Elephants Dancing in My Tummy: And The Angels Cried

November 4, 2012 | By | 9 Replies More

I have a herd of elephants dancing in my tummy; my head aches and I am intermittently overcome by a wave of panic which starts at my toes and oozes from my fingers as I type; I’m not sleeping too well either.

I’m not ill or on drugs – unless you count the medicinal Pinot Grigio I take at weekends. Instead, I have decided to take the plunge and self-publish a collection of my short stories called “And The Angels Cried and other stories” on Amazon Kindle.

Self-publishing requires a vast amount of self-confidence and belief in one’s work.

You are saying to the world, “Hey there! Look at what I can do. Not only do I think I write well, I’m expecting you to pay to read it.” Terrifying.

Yet each time we commit our thoughts to paper there is an element of arrogance: that what we have to say is worth recording and being read. I freely acknowledge that a big part of me thinks I’m a decent writer and my stories worth reading. But what if I’m wrong? What if I’m not as good as I hope I am?

Some of the stories have been published elsewhere, or been placed in competitions, so these must be quite good, right? But the little devil of self doubt who sits on my shoulder likes to whisper in my ear that, perhaps, the standard in these competitions was spectacularly poor, and mine was the best of a bad lot. And we have all seen things published that, quite frankly, should have been consigned to the wastepaper basket. What if my work falls in to the latter category?

And The Angels Cried and other short stories by Annette S. Thomson

While I’m sure that all writers suffer from pre-publication nerves, the independent author sends her work into the world without the comfort of an endorsement from a publisher or agent.

We put our self-esteem and professional reputation on the line and it’s not a comfortable feeling. I debated the wisdom self-publishing with myself for a long time before coming to the conclusion that if I don’t have confidence in my work, how can I expect a traditional publisher or agent to?

I’ve edited my stories time and time again, sent them out to beta readers and edited them once more. I’m as confident as I can be that they are grammatically and logically sound. I wanted to use my own photography on the cover and, after much Photoshop trickery, am happy with the design. I’ve converted the text to .mobi and gone through every page, making sure that everything looks exactly as one would expect from a professionally published book. The conversion process is fiddly and finicky and I can still see blue formatting marks when I close my eyes. I know I can do no more.


I mentioned to a friend that I was petrified I would awake on the day after publication to thirteen 1* reviews on Amazon. “At least 13 people would have read it,” he said. And he is right: that’s thirteen more people than would read it had I kept the files archived on my hard drive.

And The Angels Cried and other stories is published on Amazon Kindle on November 9th and I can sleep in a future life.

Annette Thomson has contributed multiple times to Women Writers, Women Books.  Follow Annette S. Thomson, “Nettie” on @NettieWriter on Twitter.  Subscribe to her blog, Words and Pictures.

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Category: British Women Writers, Independent Publishing, On Publishing

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  1. Guest Post « Annette S Thomson | November 6, 2012
  1. Jo Carroll says:

    Enjoy the fun, Nettie – yes, it’s scary, and the marketing is tedious, but it’s wonderful to know this is all your own work! Good luck with your stories.

    • Thank you, Jo. I do find the marketing difficult for myself. I am more than happy to tell people all the reasons they should buy other books, but it’s a different matter when it’s your own book.
      Hope you are successful with your work too,


  2. Gill Wyatt says:

    I have just taken the plunge into self-publishing and I echo those feelings. I procrastinated a long while before committing myself to the process. I think you’ve done a fabulous job on the cover – it’s beautiful. I quite agree about the ’13 people’, we just want our work to be read.
    Wishing you all the best with your marketing and sales.

  3. Fran says:

    I think you are very brave going down the self-publishing route. I considered it as I was writing my first novel but it filled me with dread. I was lucky to get a publishing deal so I can put off the fear factor of going it alone for now. Just being published has me reaching for the Pino Grigot. I’ll put your collection on my ‘must read’ list and I look forward to reading it. I’m writing a collection of short stories at the moment.

    • Hi Fran, and thank you. Congratulations on your publishing deal! Do you have a deal for your short stories or will you be self publishing those? I’ll definitely keep an eye out for them. Good luck with all your writing endeavours,


  4. Thank you, Rashda. It is scary to bare your soul in such an intimate way and risk disapproval and ridicule and I’m glad to hear it’s not just me.

  5. The first sentence of this essay hooked & I’m so glad I read it. I think you touch on a very valid issue that I believe all writers experience, but don’t often voice.

    Like Sylvia Plath said: “The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt.”

    Good luck with your short story collection!

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