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I’d Rather Be Naked

So I’m getting ready to publish Shelf Life, Book Two of The Publicist (woo hoo!) and was speaking with a friend of mine about the perils of being an author. This is a new thing to me as you may have gleaned from my blog. Mostly I’m a marketing person, well a publicist to be exact. Now, however, I’m an author and can I tell you a secret? It’s terrifying.

I have a dear friend who is also getting ready to publish her book. She is a seasoned corporate executive who can walk into any boardroom and command attention and respect. She runs a million dollar company and this fiction thing she’s gotten into has been a fantastic outlet for her (not to mention her book rocks). Now though comes the time when she must hit the “publish” button. So she called me the other day to say “This is crazy, I can run circles around most men in business so why is this so scary?” Like me and most other authors we all share one trait. The thought of anyone reading our book is well, terrifying. Don’t get me wrong, we want people to read it but we want them to love it and if they hate it, we’d rather they keep that to themselves. That doesn’t always happen however, we see this with bad reviews (and the authors who make the ill-advised move of responding to them).

So, where does the naked part come in you ask? Well here’s the deal. When I published The Publicist Book One, I had nightmares. Lots of scary, scary nightmares. I dreamt that readers hated my book, that the reviews were horrible one in fact stating that I, a publicist should stick to publishing and leave the creative writing to someone who was, well, creative. Candidly I’d rather be naked in Times Square than face a crowd of readers who hate my work. I’m not alone in this, either. Recently I had an author pepper her own Amazon page with fake five-star reviews. Why did she do that? Because she worried she wasn’t good enough, she worried readers would hate her book. This antic backfired for her, however. The woosh you hear is the sound of a toilet flushing taking with it her career and all of her fake-reviews. The sad part about this, aside from the shame it brought to her and her book, is that it was actually a very, very good read.

To a point I guess I get what she did. We want people to like us (really like us, a la Sally Field) but the fact is that we put our work out there and we hope for the best. Publishing is such a cut-throat business these days that you’re really only as good or as viable as your last book. Publishers scream for book sales calling their authors to tell them: “You need to do more, your book isn’t selling.” This kind of a call sends any author into a tailspin of worry, confusion and fear. “My book isn’t selling, they must hate me!” I mean we know our moms will like our work, they sort of have to, right? But then there’s everyone else, the big, wide world looming at our doorstep just waiting to hit that one-star on Amazon and say: “She could have done better.”

Every writer I know has faced this and if you’re reading this and nodding you know what I mean. Take heart. Bad reviews happen, not everyone will love us. That’s what the publicist part of me would say. I mean I, of all people, should know this, right? Well knowing and “knowing” are two very different things. So what does the author part of me say? Wanna come join me in Times Square? I’ll be the one wearing nothing but a sign that reads: “Will write for good reviews.”