I feel like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come sitting here on your shoulder (A Christmas Carol has long been my favourite Dickens story). It is December, a year before your book is due to be released and you are faced with your first structural edit. I want to shake you. This time should be joyous, you have wanted this for so long, the chance for others to read this story and meet your characters, the goal of becoming a published author fulfilled. Yet you are feeling a sense of impending doom. Oh My God, other people are actually going to read your words. The realisation is making you doubt. Each sentence seems embarrassing. These words are not good enough.

I want to tell you that you will make it better. By the time you have completed the copyedit, you will feel strengthened by the knowledge that all these editors wouldn’t let you put something out that was terrible. Yes, you could always keep working, keep crafting, and even now, two years later you will pick up your book, let it fall open and wish to change something. Wise friends will tell you, ‘this is just your first book, not your best book’. Tim Minchin’s advice will swirl around you: ‘do the best you can in the time you have available’. But on your other shoulder I know you hear the voice of Marieke Hardy when delivering a scathing review on the Book Club. ‘This is the worst book ever!’  (Later, you will meet Marieke at a Writer’s Festival and will stop yourself from confessing that you hear her voice in your head).

Now comes the time for your book Into the World to go into the world. Will it be criticised? Will it be noticed? You have few expectations and have resolved not to read reviews. This advice comes from Elizabeth Gilbert who says criticism after the book is published does not help you make it better. You have made your decisions in the writing of this book, there are many ways to tell a story and now you must let the readers judge. I know your flaws, you want everyone to like you, and it is the same with this book. You will have to make peace with the fact that not everyone will.

You were prepared for criticism, but not for kindness. The generosity of readers, bloggers, authors and reviewers who want to help lift you up is a wonderful surprise.

You will cherish the friends who took the time to respond with messages about how much they loved it and your family members who made everyone around them buy the book. There is excitement and joy and people will share that with you. You will have a blast at launches and organising your own book tour. You will learn so much about the book trade (not every bookstore will have ordered your book in, not every bookseller will want you to sign books, December is a hard time to organise book launches) and festivals are not easy to be included in – all this makes you relish the opportunities you are invited to. Book touring around bookshops and libraries is hard work, but also exhilarating. You love talking about your research and the true characters you have brought to life again. The bookshops that support you and the people you meet, especially the little girl who dragged her mother into the store to meet a real, actual author, make it a priceless experience.

Not everyone will understand what you intended with your writing.

It was a good decision to read the kind words but shield yourself from anything bad. You stay away from Goodreads. Other people’s opinions cannot make the book any different now and can only harm your confidence. It is hard enough to sell yourself and the quality of your book, and you need to believe the things people loved about it.

So now, as another December approaches and your book is being released in a new paperback edition, I want to tell you to be proud of what you have done. You have brought the story of an amazing, little-known woman into the light and set off in your own canoe towards a writing career, and it doesn’t matter what other people think.



Stephanie Parkyn is the author of Into the World based on the true story of a Frenchwoman who disguised herself as a man on a scientific voyage to Australia and the South Pacific during the French Revolution, a story she discovered while living in Tasmania. Her next novel, Josephine’s Garden, is due to be published in December 2019 by Allen & Unwin. You can buy her books online or from good bookshops. 

W: Stephanie Parkyn – Writer

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Monique’s review of Into the World is here. 




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