Imposter syndrome never goes away

“It’s getting scary and real!”

I’ve been working with an author since last summer. I helped them shape their book proposal, and edited their manuscript.

The result? They landed a book deal with their top publisher. Success!

But despite that success, the imposter syndrome never really goes away. Now that the author is lining up beta readers—early readers who give feedback on the manuscript—the self-doubt is creeping in.

I’ve seen this happen over and over. The book becomes “real” when the author sends the manuscript to peer reviewers, or out for blurbs, or when they first see it typeset.

The book was always real and alive, even when a kernel of an idea. It’s not some creature that needs to be animated. But each stage of the writing, editing, and publishing process is unique and presents a fresh way to look at the content. Now no longer solely yours, it begins to live in the world, moves through others’ hands, and eventually belongs only to the reader. Imposter syndrome is not only a fear that you’ll be named a fraud, but that you won’t be there to defend your book.

Every stage in the process is like adding another layer to the book until it’s fully formed, printed and in the hands of readers. If you can recognize these stages and anticipate them, you can be better prepared for when it feels bigger than what you think you can handle. Tell your editor when you’re nervous, and they can help you turn that fear into growth.

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