The Most Challenging Aspect of Being a Published Author

This week at The Debutante Ball, it’s “choose your own adventure”, so I thought I would take this opportunity to spotlight my fellow multi-published authors. What we do–create, destroy, inspire, and spark change–is no small feat. I’d say there’s some serious adventure to be had amid all of those sumptuous pages, and in the daily life of being a writer. So I asked them:

What is the most challenging aspect of being a published author?



“Finding the balance between writing what you desperately need to write and writing what is needed to be written to have a substantive career.” –Donna Russo Morin, multi-award-winning novelist



“Believing in yourself when you don’t have a contract to drive you forward.”–Anne Easter Smith, award-winning novelist


kris waldherr

“Dealing with publishing house changes, with editors coming and going and imprints being rearranged.”–Kris Waldherr, acclaimed novelist and award-winning artist


“Not giving into despair when the words won’t come or a story stalls or even when the career stalls, but forcing yourself, instead, to find creative solutions to all of these.”–Lynn Cullen, NYT bestselling author
susan spann
Learning to accept that fear is a constant traveling companion, and finding ways to address it and live with it.”–Susan Spann, acclaimed author 
Trying to stay the course and keep faith that you know what you’re doing – when a project turns out to be the Book From Hell. Some projects are just tougher than others, for whatever reason . . . but it’s really hard sometimes to remind yourself that you don’t suddenly Suck At This. You’re just tackling something tough.”–Kate Quinn, NYT bestselling author
Facing the blank screen in the morning – that’s why I try to start the day telling myself I just have to write 100 words to get started.”–Tracy Grant, acclaimed author
“I think it’s hard to stay in the chair when the novel’s protagonist is being elusive.”–Christy English, acclaimed author
As for me, I find two things incredibly difficult: learning how to let go of your novel so it may become the readers’ (in other words, accepting reviews and opinions for what they are–opinions), and talking down the fear that threatens to overwhelm your confidence at all stages of the game. In this wonderful, passion-filled, grueling, exciting, gut-wrenching profession there’s much that challenges us, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I suspect my fellow authors would agree.

What about you, writers? What’s the most challenging part of being a writer–pubbed or not yet pubbed? Readers, what is your perception of a writer’s daily life?

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Heather Webb

Writer, Editor
Heather Webb is the author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, her debut historical (Plume/Penguin 2014). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. You may find her Twittering @msheatherwebb, hosting contests, or hanging around as a contributor to the Editor's Posts. She is also the Twitter mistress for the popular Writer Unboxed. She loves making new reader and writer friends. Stop on by her website, Between the Sheets!

This article has 15 Comments

  1. It is so nice to read all of these thoughts and feelings. I have yet to publish my work, but I worry about or experience most of the things mentioned above. Glad I am not alone. Thanks for the great post, Heather!

    1. You are DEFINITELY not alone, Corinne. 🙂 The best thing we can do as writers, in my opinion, is support each other through the difficult times so we can see how our paths are really all so similar.

  2. Hi Heather, I think it is definitely keeping focused and finding enough hours in the day to fit writing around my family. I’m often bursting with ideas, full of confidence, contract signed, but being tugged at by toddlers.

    1. I’m so with you, Amy! My kids will both be in school full time for the first time in seven years this fall. I’m so used to having a little companion at my side most of the day so I’m a little sad, but also so relieved and excited to have a real schedule to work. Bring on the flurry of ideas!

  3. Yes, the fear and doubt. It is very helpful to read this post and see that this experience is common, not just me. I agree with all of the authors, actually.

    For me there is fear at every stage, including fear of success. However, these fears, when examined and worked out, lead to incredible self-growth, understanding of what one wants, and in the skills needed to maintain serenity as one expands into the world in the way that being an author requires.

    1. I can’t agree with you more, Nia. I’m working on that piece right now myself–examining my fears and learning how to not be attached to the outcome, to enjoy the process and be proud of all that I have accomplished and will in the future as well. Thanks for your comment today!

    1. The balancing act is super-tough. I’m in a constant state of I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME and it’s exhausting just thinking that way all day, every day. Balance has to be the key. So let’s find it, shall we? LOL. Easier said than done…

  4. I absolutely love this, Heather. Thanks so much for collecting all these great insights and sharing them with us.

    For me, the toughest part of being a published author is that even though you’re published, every new project is in essence, a new beginning. And that can be exciting but it can also be terrifying. There’s no guarantee (unless you have a multi-book contract!) that your next book will be published just because the first one was. So there’s no guarantee that this life you’ve worked so hard for will continue the way you’ve hoped.

  5. Great post! For me, it’s finding consistency with my writing routines and not letting the day-job suck so much of the energy out of me that I can’t find that consistency.

  6. Thanks for including me, Heather!

    If I can add – one of the BEST things about being a published author is getting to know, and become friends with, other authors like you and the rest of the Debs.

  7. With my first novel actually on the road to being published, I find myself analyzing EVERYTHING in the book and then worrying that this dream finally happened and everyone is going to hate it! But, luckily, the excitement over holding that finished product in my hands outweighs any of the doubt. Hoping I’m “multi-published” like you ladies sometime soon!

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