Hitting Publish

I’ve come across that button several times now and thus far I haven’t been able to pull the trigger.

“Save and Publish.”

The button that makes my work available to the public at large. The only thing standing between me and my dream of becoming a published author. And every time I look at it I feel physically sick with anxiety.

I read somewhere—I believe it was an article with tips on self-publishing—that it should be difficult to click Blog-Save&Publishthat Publish button, that if it’s not difficult then you haven’t really poured yourself into the project and it can never truly be great. Of course, pouring yourself into your novel is no guarantee that it will be truly great either. And that’s where this paralyzing terror comes into play.

Because all these months, all these years really, that I wanted nothing more than to become a published author, I never really thought about how vulnerable you become, how much of yourself you expose to, well everyone. Not just strangers, but friends, family, colleagues. I’m fairly upfront about my thoughts and opinions on most matters, but I’m also very protective of certain aspects of my personality and I am genuinely concerned that once I publish a novel these will be laid bare.

Of course, there are other fears as well. What if my book isn’t good? What if it’s merely adequate? What if readers are indifferent? What if I’m not, in fact, meant to do this thing that I’ve always wanted to do?

All this time, I’ve been worried about what I’ll do if I can’t get people to read it. How it will feel to have a book that’s only read by a couple hundred people (and even that is no guarantee). I feels utterly irrational to confess, but my greatest fear right now is people actually reading my book. Being offended by the obvious satire or the fact that my protagonist is a lesbian. Or again—and I can’t help but come back to this—indifferent.

Logically, I believe the author of the self-publishing article was correct in saying that it should be terrifying to push the “Publish” button. That it should be an act of faith—in yourself, in your story, in your potential readers. Because if you’re completely comfortable with your novel, then you probably didn’t take any risks, didn’t challenge yourself or your readers, and maybe even didn’t have anything to say. In which case, what was the point?

But even when someone tells you that your feelings—all of your fears and self-doubt—are normal, it doesn’t make the challenge before you any easier. That Save and Publish button doesn’t become any less final, any less terrifying. You don’t know what lies on the other side. And while that may be for the better, it doesn’t help quell this overwhelming anxiety that makes me want to chuck my lunch into the nearest shrubbery.

I know I have to hit that button eventually. My book release party is two and a half weeks away and I’m pretty sure it’s going to require an actual book. But, for now, I’m just breathing into a paper bag, telling myself it’s going to be alright, no matter what happens. I wish I believed myself.



  1. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m nearing the point of being ready to self publish the novel that I’m working on. I’m currently in the process of doing the third revision. I can imagine that it must be terribly difficult to click that button and let your baby fly. Best of luck to you! I guess I’ll see how well I deal with crossing that bridge once I get to it.

    • Thanks! It’s really quite an intense experience (as I’m guessing you know) and there were so many unexpected challenges and layers to the whole process. I thought I would be relieved and eager to hit “publish” so it was quite a surprise to find myself reluctant and nervous. And good luck to you too! It takes an enormous degree of devotion and will-power to self-publish!


  1. […] now available in three libraries across two states. It feels so terribly long ago that I was panicking about pushing that button, terrified of what people would think and say, so incredibly vulnerable, and all over this tiny […]

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