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AuthorJennifer Smith

5 Big Lies That Stopped Me from Publishing My First Book

The evening sun beamed through the living room window, highlighting the edges of everything in its path. I was only 12 years old, but the beauty overwhelmed me.

I took a piece of paper and pen, and poured my heart out, struggling to capture what I was feeling. Enthralled by the art of rhyme, I took my time to scroll through different words in my mind, striving to satisfy my heart’s desire to create poetry. 

This is just one of the millions of memories that capture my love of creative writing. As I grew up and considered what I would do with my life, I dreamt of being a published author.

I imagined what it would feel like to have my name printed on the cover of my book. I imagined sharing it with family and friends, with a smile of humility and hopefulness plastered on my face, eager to experience the moment they expressed being proud of me for reaching my dreams.

Jennifer Smith

The years came and went. Soon I was in my late twenties, married, and about to embark on motherhood. I never wrote that book or published those stories. I knew I was created to write; I loved it too much for it not to be a purpose in my life. And yet, however badly I wanted to be a well-known author, lies began to smother the passion that once motivated me.

Anybody who dreams of self-publishing has faced these lies. I want to share them with you so when you hear a voice whispering them to you, you’ll know not to let that voice smother your confidence; you’ll be able to combat them with the truth of who you are and what you are actually capable of.

1. I believed my content wasn’t good enough to be published

A few years into college, I began writing my first novel. I enjoyed love stories and decided to try writing my own. I could never get past the fourth chapter. Every time I sat down to write, I got hung up on the details of the characters, the setting, the plot. I overthought every detail, wondering what people I admired would think of what I had written.

I found myself unable to pursue the story because I was constantly changing details depending on how I thought people would view me. The fear of people not liking my story was more powerful than the passion I had to finish.

I gave up before I ever really got started.

No matter what I wrote, I believed others would think it wasn’t good. I belittled my work and answered on behalf of others before giving them a chance to form an opinion. It was a defense mechanism to avoid the uncomfortable experience of criticism or rejection of my work.

I had zero confidence in what I was able to produce. I believed people wouldn’t enjoy it. I cringed at the thought of people sharing their opinions of me because I feared they would be negative.

I gave up before I ever really got started.

The truth is that other people will have opinions about your work. But you can’t keep your work hidden from the world. Authors give people reasons to form opinions, to communicate how things make them feel, and to converse about the content. Authors give the world something to talk about. Authors give people a reason to connect. We have to accept that we cannot please everyone in life, but our work is worth it for the people who do enjoy it, and who are inspired by it.

2. I believed I wasn’t qualified to be published

I never finished college. I attended for several years, I even took a creative writing class, but I never received a degree.

I had no professional writing experience and no credentials to prove I was a worthy author. I didn’t think I would be allowed to be published because I had no official title that followed my name. I feared that people would not take me seriously if I were to pursue writing.

But the truth is, if you can tell a story, you are qualified for the task.

It’s easy to give up on yourself when you believe you will never meet expectations. But we can’t limit ourselves. We can’t define ourselves by someone else’s perceived value. People understand experience. Whether or not you are credentialed or considered a professional, people are storytellers. Authors are storytellers. If you can conquer your fears and share your story, you are qualified for the task.

If you can tell a story, you are qualified for the task.


3. I believed that writing wasn’t a real job

One of my high school teachers told me that a poetry book would never pay the bills. That statement shocked my heart with a sharpness that never left.

In that moment I was convinced my poetry would never amount to anything. I believed the voice of my teacher, one that was coated in discouragement and disbelief in my ability to write. My teacher’s desire for me in that moment was to focus on the work she required of me and not the creative work I desired to pursue. I trusted her and I received the weight of her words.

I didn’t understand the value of writing and publishing books. Instead of pursuing publishing, this lie had seeped into my heart, reminding me time and time again that it was more important for me to do the work that everyone else was supposed to be focusing on. For me, that was a full-time, minimum wage job. The lie I believed had boxed me in.

As long as I believed the lie, I was stuck in that box, unable to see the opportunities that existed just on the other side.

I believe there are many voices in life we give weight to, that we are convinced by, sometimes blindly. We must be careful not to let those words define what we are capable of without challenging them with the truth.

As long as I believed the lie, I was stuck in that box, unable to see the opportunities that existed just on the other side.

The truth is that people are creative and capable of doing great things. Our motivation should not be contingent on a paycheck. We should pursue our passions even if we have to work that minimum wage job in order to do it; we should be motivated by the impact of our words on the world, not our bank accounts. Don’t let money or the fear of finances keep you from your dreams.

4. I believed I didn’t—and couldn’t—understand the process of publishing

When my husband and I finally began to research publishing, I believed that traditional publishing was all about who you are or who you know.

One of my first phone calls with an agent left me deflated. He reiterated his reasons for not representing me, which included my lack of clout and my young age.

In addition to this, self-publishing was new at the time. There was a lack of information about how to self-publish and how to do it well. We both felt lost.

I believed publishing was for A-listers, and I wasn’t one of them.

I was a nobody, so what right did I have to figure any of it out? Believing this about myself, in combination with fear of rejection, kept me from pursuing publishing. I believed I was better off if I didn’t know the how-to. And I would never be rejected if I never tried to figure it out.

I believed publishing was for A-listers, and I wasn’t one of them.

We must push past the fear of the unknown and ride the learning curve no matter how challenging it is. Learning comes through experience. So whether you have positive or negative experiences in life, don’t let them hinder you; instead, let them help shape your understanding. Then, with that understanding, crush your fears and do the impossible.

5. I believed actually writing a book would be too hard for me

If I did pursue becoming a published author, that meant I would have to write that book I dreamed about. And I didn’t believe I could actually do it.

Even when I started a book that later became my first published book, the entire process of writing was a wrestling match with myself. I would sit in front of the computer defeated, believing that it was too hard to finish. I complained to my husband that we were wasting our time trying to self-publish. I wanted to give up so many times.

Despite these overwhelming fears that hindered me from believing in myself and what I was capable of, I became a published author. I overcame these daunting fears, accomplishing the dream I had in my heart since I was a little girl. It wasn’t easy, by any means, but chasing after my dream and becoming a published author has made me incredibly proud of myself. I know the effort it took to produce my book from start to finish, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

I did it. And you can too.

Conquering your fears is necessary to fulfill your dream. You have to combat every fear you have by reminding yourself what you are capable of. And if there are moments of weakness that overwhelm you, if you think completing your book is impossible, you need to commit to the task and keep trying until you get there.

Some days you may write several pages or chapters, other days it may just be a line or two, and on the really tough days, you may be staring at a blank page. But just by showing up, you give fear a message: You are not going to settle to believe that you are not capable. You are going to persevere until you achieve your dream. You will experience the joy—and pain—of becoming a published writer.

Believe that your story is worth publishing

Once I overcame these fears, I felt a sense of freedom. I finally believed my story was worth publishing. And I want you to experience the same thing.

But my fears weren’t the only thing holding me back from becoming a published author. I remember not even knowing where to start. And once I started, I made a lot of mistakes.

In fact, it took me hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to figure out how to write and self-publish my first book. Would I do it all over again? You bet! But I’m here to tell you that I would do it much differently today than I did five years ago. I’ve already made the mistakes. I’ve learned the hard lessons. And I’ve overcome the fears.

That’s why we created BookWorthy. To help you navigate the roadblocks and actually become a published author.

I understand that writing and publishing a book isn’t for everyone. It’s a time-consuming and expensive journey that not everyone can take. But if you’re still reading this article, I think you just might be up to it.

Let me guide you along the journey. I know that if I can do it, you can too. Register for BookWorthy today.

About the Author

Jennifer Smith

From a young age, it was always a dream of Jennifer's to be a published author. She wrote and self-published her first book in 2014. Since then, she and her husband have sold over 560,000 self-published books in print.