Your favorite pumpkin writer M. R. Foti (born one day before Halloween!) brings you a spooky list of terrible things that could happen to you if you are writer… and how to prevent them (or deal with them).

  1. Someone copy-pastes your writing. Either the whole article/story, or at least pieces. And they claim it as theirs. You’ve tried asking them to remove it, but they say: “What are you talking about? I am the real *your internet nickname*.” What to do: Try not to post your work online, except from short fragments / quotes that are for marketing purposes. If you plan to publish a story for free, then sign it at least with your pen name (or real name – if it’s the same as your pen name). Additionally, always keep your materials in one place and never delete them. If you had to prove authorship, they might turn out very useful.
  2. Someone steals your ideas and writes their own story with them. Actually, this is something that can’t truly be prevented; in reality, we all plagiarize, rewrite and remix other authors’ ideas. If you are writing about a kiss in the boat and someone else writes about a kiss in a boat, too, you can’t tell them not to. However – if your work was copied scene by scene and it’s clear – you must act. What to do: find the thief and sue them. Your book is a golden egg hen and you don’t want anyone else to steal it!
  3. Your short term writing progress is lost when computer resets. This doesn’t need explanation: you write, write and suddenly… blue screen of death! What to do: choose a writing program with autosave option. I loved writing in Notepad and Wordpad, but in the end I switched to Word – because Word automatically saves your document. The default setting should be autosaving each 10 minutes. I set it to 1 minute. Problem solved!
  4. Your long term writing progress is lost when computer dies. It has never ever happened to me. No, not because I was lucky – but because I have always treated my writing as a priority and I had spare copies. Now, I have even the stories I wrote when I was 11 – incredible, isn’t it? (I put it in the folder: “unusable writings”) What to do: zip your writing folder frequently. Put copies on your pendrive and upload them to Google Drive, too.
  5. Your novel gets bad reviews from the target audience readers. Nooo! It sounds horrible when I only think of it! How about you? What to do: be absolutely honest with yourself. Was your book read by the target audience interested in the genre? Maybe you attracted the wrong target audience by choosing a wrong genre or using an unsuitable cover? Was your book edited? Is it free from plot holes, grammar errors, incorrectly used words? Is it gripping or the reader must wait 100 pages before anything starts happening? Does your worldview or language offend anyone? You need a reality check. See also: 6 reasons why your book isn’t popular on social media and how to fix it.
  6. Your novel is under haters’ attack. It happens even to the best of the best. Haters are people that felt hurt by something you did directly or indirectly to them. What to do: differentiate between negative reviews (“I found this book boring”) and offensive reviews (“The author is a whore”). It’s important cause negative reviews won’t be deleted by the bookshop/library admins, while offensive ones most surely will. Also: pay attention if the chain of negative reviews doesn’t match the sales. If you got 10 one-star reviews in one day, it’s very likely that it’s always one person – especially if their accounts are new. You should tell to that to the bookshop/library owners, too. Related article: 20 things to tell yourself after receiving a bad review, to feel better.
  7. All publishers rejected your book. Don’t worry. Really. Publishers do reject tons of decent books! Why? Find out here. What to do: self-publish! It’s as easy as that. It’s going to be cheaper than asking a private publishing house to publish for you. Additionally: Don’t buy the idea that your book is too weird to be liked.
  8. Your sales drop to zero after a few dozen copies. Imagine a boat waiting at the river bank. If you push it, it will go in the right direction. But later, the river current will take it where it wants, and if the weather is bad, it might even sink. Pushing the boat is publishing – once you publish, your parents, friends, teachers will all pay attention to you. But if you don’t do anything to boost your sales, they will become lower and lower until they reach zero. Books  that aren’t in the libraries don’t get discovered. E-books by unknown authors released all over the market don’t get discovered. What to do: Your boat needs a motor (advertising agency). If you can’t afford it, at least get an oar! And in order to get anywhere, you actually need to use the oar, or motor, persistently. Don’t think that you will put three links to your book on your Facebook and it will be over. Marketing must be constant!
  9. Someone (or everyone) tells you: “you have no talent”. In the best case. Cause in the worst case, you’d think much more – and many worse things. Related article: When constructive criticism becomes destructive: is your beta reader a bully? What to do: ignore it completely! You have the right to write and nobody can take it away from you. If you want to be a writer, you will be a writer. In case you truly doubt whether you are talented, and wonder if talent can be learned/acquired, read this article: Where does talent come from? Why isn’t it a prerequisite for success?
  10. Writer’s block turns to creative burnout. You thought you would get to writing after a small break, however, you feel even more demotivated than you were before the break. You just don’t feel like writing, you don’t know what to writing, you feel like you’ve been donating blood daily for months and now you just can’t. What to do: I have created several resources that will help you deal with writer’s block and creative burn out. Check them here:

Those were writers’ nightmares – and here are other scary things connected to the writing process (and progress!):

  1. Receiving a really good writing contract.
  2. Seeing your book online.
  3. Reading reviews.
  4. Writing honestly about what matters to you.
  5. Writing about controversial issues.
  6. Your pen name getting discovered.
  7. Giving your novel to read to someone you personally know.
  8. Re-reading the first draft.
  9. Talking face to face to your readers.
  10. Giving interviews.

And the final resource for today which you might find useful if you are a writer who is chronically scared:

Why dealing with social anxiety is so important if you are an author.

Happy Halloween! Everyone, stay scared inspired!