Writing Success. Fear.


My memoir Camp Follower One Army Brat’s Story by Michele Sabad, continues to be a success. But what does that mean? I defined my first book a success by these criteria:

  • I recouped my self-publishing costs, and continue to generate enough sales to pay for ongoing costs. Plus about a bottle of wine a month.
  • The reviews are good, 4.5 out of 5 stars on both Amazon and Indigo. Hey, not 50 reviews yet, (Someone told me that was the goal to get Amazon to rank the book higher? Who knows how these things work!), but there are enough to give potential new readers a solid recommendation. (see one review)
  • The personal emailed reviews are even better, detailing how the book touched people as readers. Letters like this make my day.
  • The readers are varied : old, young, military-raised, civilian. I am pleasantly surprised by the range of readers, but then, why should I be? I myself read many varied genres and topics.(see a civvie review)

So, Success as defined by me. Now, what next?

I’ve always been motivated to do well, whatever the endeavor, and honestly, when I started writing in retirement, I did not think that a memoir would be the first book I’d write. The first rule I had was to write what I myself would like to read, and I don’t read many memoirs. (see “Who reads memoirs?“)I like fiction. So now, I’m writing fiction. But something has happened: Fear. I have a fear of success. Not the fear of writing another successful book, but the fear of not doing so. What if the readers who liked Camp Follower don’t like my fiction? What if the topic is not popular? What if the writing doesn’t resonate like personal, first-hand memoirs do? Fear, fear, fear. It has stymied me this winter; it feels easier to coast on the first book’s success. I write these words now to force myself into the open with that fear, and give myself the strength to continue, to write that fiction, to write what I myself would want to read.

Because I realize, this fear of success is not new to me in retirement as a writer at all. It is a motivation in all of aspects of life. We all have fear of not succeeding. Failure is an option. Deal with it. “I get knocked down, I get back up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.” – Chumbamumba.


2 thoughts on “Writing Success. Fear.

  1. Michele, Kim Medders author of The Italian Lesson (full of marvelous details of life within DoDDs) just informed me of this group. I’ll order your book and be eager to hear your fiction is out. My non-fiction, A Cold War Teacher’s Tale about civilians in Europe during the Cold War has 1,450 copies out there. My fiction piece Reconnections, about a family returning to their roots to aid their family of origin, has about 50. It’s so much easier to promote non-fiction than fiction. That has nothing to do with the quality of your writing and everything about reaching your audience. I believe in getting feedback to spot gaps and unexplained allusions we all presume others understand but I took my 1st ch to a writers group and they pronounced it too religious. Shocked, I edited much out and changed the title, but now I realize they’d only read 20 pages and didn’t see that I wasn’t pushing Catholicism(they were mad at the scandal), I was referring to the strength people gain from prayer (no matter what religion they follow) when circumstances push them. I’m working to rename, restore, improve and republish that novel now. My point is, take heart Work to polish but to yourself be true. If you’d ever like feedback on a section or technique I’d always give my honest opinion at–knych1@yahoo.com. All my best. Carol O’Donnell-Knych

    1. Thanks so much! My next book First We Eat, is due out momentarily 😉, another non-fiction collection. But the fiction is collecting. All the best to us both,🤗

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