Since its that day of the year when people like to frighten each other with costumes, decorations, stories, etc., I thought I'd make a list of things that are "scary" when it comes to publishing.
1) REJECTION -- It's the author's number one fear to have a story turned down for publication. But did you know that editor's go through rejection too? We have been known to find an author (or story) that we want to work with and have had our offer to publish turned down for various reasons: author goes with another publisher, author has a life crisis that takes her away from writing, etc.
2) STEALING -- Many authors fear sharing their proposals of story ideas, thinking publishers or other authors will steal the idea and cut the author out from making any profit for originating the idea. It is similar with editors. We get ideas that we think would make great stories, but it is scary to share that idea with anyone if there is the remote chance that they'd take the idea to another publisher who might profit from it. So, editors rarely seek out authors and ask them to write a story based on the editor's idea unless there is a contract in place first.
But ideas are subjective. We often all filter similar things like a TV show, a country music song, an emailed urban legend, and the like that sparks an idea for developing a novel. As an author, what you really copyright is the way you develop that idea into your own voice, because each author will tell even the same story outline in their own way.
3) EDITS -- Authors, editors, and really anyone who writes tend to fear being edited. We fear that someone else will want to change the essence of what we are trying to say in our writing. A good copy editor knows how to improve upon the wording of a piece without changing the author's voice. I think the main thing we fear about edits - if we're honest - is the work. We've put a lot of effort just into getting the piece finished, and it can be painful to revisit it and rework it. Sometimes in reworking we find we don't even like what we've written, and that can be really scary to a writer.
4) WRITER'S BLOCK -- It's a common fear of every writer that we'll sit down to the computer and nothing will come out. We might even know the plan for writing (story summary or article outline), but we can't seem to form the words on paper/screen. And the more we worry about being blocked the worse it gets. It's a mental war we play with ourselves, and the worst of it originates deep within our being at the root of feeling inadequate for the job, unworthy of an audience. Blockage at the very least can also come from the inability to relax and let the muse flow. In the midst of a block, a mini vacation might be in order. Even a 10-minute break from the computer to do something that mentally and physically relaxes you could help. Take time to be reminded of your personal value in God's eyes and His gift of writing for your life.
5) SALES -- How the sales results for a book will pan out is a worry for both author and editor. We fear a book that never sells beyond a handful of copies even though we've done our very best to make it marketable. We even fear a book that only sells enough to cover the initial costs. Without momentum to sell enough to actually make money, a book could be considered, by some, to be a failure. But I've even heard murmurings of authors who fear good sales. Sales success brings responsibility upon the author for more books that will sell as well, to get out and do book signings and other promotions where the readers are, and to answer other authors who are looking for publishing advice. Success puts authors in the spotlight, which many fear.
I'm sure we could increase the list by talking about other fears like deadlines or contract business, but I'll stop here and leave you with this prayer.
"When all is said and done, it simply comes down to this, Lord: In whom do I trust? If I allow messages from the devil to fill my mind, I will be defeated. You have overcome this world, You have overcome the evil one. Plant Your Word in my mind so that there is no room for the fears that threaten to consume me. Help me to remember that I need never fear, for You are with me."
(from Power Prayers to Start Your Day by Donna Maltese)
If you would like a copy of this book, post a comment about a publishing fear you've had that you've been able to overcome. On Monday I'll pick the best comment (or 2) and send you a book.
UPDATE: All very good responses to the fears in publishing, but I'm going to pick Patricia's comment about taking it a step at a time and Jess's comment about hearing the right voice. Both will get books. Thanks to all who commented.