Feeling the Fear, Even Behind a Pen Name

I've worked for many years as a copywriter and for most of those years, I had my own freelance business. One thing I've always enjoyed about copywriting — as opposed to when I was a journalist, for example — is the anonymity of it. I can write a great direct-marketing email or effective website copy, and no one knows it's me “behind the curtain.” I have always enjoyed having my clients be front and center, instead of me.

Now, I'm embarking on something radically different: a writing and publishing business. And wow, is it ever scary to put myself totally out there for public consumption. I'm not even using my real name on this first group of fictional stories, and I still feel exposed.

The curtain has been lifted, and I feel like I'm on stage. Not a comfortable place for most writers, I'm guessing.

My tactic so far has been to start slowly and try to get some good feedback. I can't even think about, say, submitting my work to a book blogger for a review. That's a terrifying thought to me right now.

It's weird, because in most areas of my life I have very little fear. This feels different, though, and it's made me appreciate writers and other folks who just do their work and don't worry about what the public or the critics have to say. Personally, I picture the critics as a bunch of crocodiles ready to snap my ego in half. Sort of like the ones I saw in Costa Rica a few weeks ago. (See that guy over there? —>)

So my question is this: How does one pursue a business fearlessly where you are “it”? When it's your name on everything, your creative stamp on everything, and your personal voice that everyone hears?

I'm feeling the fear and doing it anyway, as they say. But wow, my stomach is in knots a lot of the time.


  1. Hi Leah: Thanks for the push! You’re absolutely right, that I can always try again with a different pen name. I’d like to save my real name for some nonfiction I have been mapping out, but right now fiction is my focus. We’ll see where it goes. Thanks again for the support.

  2. You’re welcome.  I am creating a community online that includes links to authors, so when you book is published let me know. I will add your link to the site.

  3. Leah, that would be great. I’m writing a series of episodic short stories for Kindle under the pen name Maggie Waters. My blog is http://www.maggiewatersbooks.blogspot.com, which has links to the first two stories I’ve already published. (If you’d like the direct links to the books, here they are: Pandora / The Breaking). Really appreciate it — thanks so much.