Coming March 2020

The Copy Cat

What if someone actually reads your book?


You knew this day would come, the day when someone you barely know (or who you know very well) reads your book.

So why does it feel so icky?

And yes, that’s my clinical term for the feeling I get now that people outside my book’s inner circle – my family, my agent, my critique partners, and my publishing house – are beginning to read my work.

And it’s about to get worse. Next month, Advanced Reader Copies of my book are going to make their way into the world, hopefully to build up interest in the big day.

The fact that more people are about to read It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! kind of makes me woozy.



Seriously, I’ve worked on this book for YEARS.

I want it to be published, I really do.

But the thought of someone reading my book, a thing that is so personal to me, is a little overwhelming.

What if no one likes it? What if they like it too much? What if no one reads it?



Well SOMEONE is going to read it, that’s for sure, and I will survive, but I am gobsmacked by how vulnerable this whole book publishing thing makes me feel.

It’s not like the job I had before becoming a full time writer wasn’t fraught with pressure, unreasonable timelines and incessant criticism – it was, in spades.

But this, this is personal.


Okay, maybe not Sonny Corleone kind of personal, but personal like when someone sees your newborn baby – the baby you consider the most beautiful creature to have graced the planet – and gives you a mere nod and a simple “cute baby.”




You’ve carried that baby for 9 months! It looks like you! It looks like your partner, your parent, an angel. And all you get is “cute baby” ?

It’s enough to make you tear your hair out.

And then imposter syndrome raises its ugly head.

Suddenly you wonder if perhaps you are the one person who gamed the system, who somehow slipped the worst manuscript ever past your agent while she was busy with more important clients and past your editor who accepted it while her eyes were bandaged following cataract surgery.

Somehow, you’ve gotten past everyone.

But your day of reckoning is coming.




Okay, I may be slightly exaggerating here for entertainment purposes, but note that I’ve only underlined the word slightly in this sentence.

But here’s the good news: almost every writer feels like this.

Heck, almost everyone who has ever gotten a promotion feels like this.

If you’re not nervous, it probably means there is something seriously wrong with you, like you have perfect self-esteem or something. Which would be very tedious.

Yes, I’ll survive this, clinging to the kind words of friends and strangers like Rose clinging to that board in Titanic…



…hoping that people do like my baby, but knowing that no matter what, there will be other babies to fret over in the future…



This writing thing is a smashing occupation, huh?


4 thoughts on “What if someone actually reads your book?”


Hey Wendy, I’m not publishing a book, but I do know what you mean. I don’t even like hearing the sound of my own voice, which is kind of the same thing (isn’t it?). Still, take heart; a lot of people love your writing, there’s no way you are an impostor and, as you say, every writer feels this way which is, in its own way, a commendation – YOU’RE A WRITER!! I remember your blog where you would share your dream of writing for a living, when you worried about leaving your job, all that has been worth it. Good on you! :0)

Wendy McLeod MacKnight

Patricia – I am going to return to this comment MANY times in the coming months! thanks!

Kathleen Burkinshaw

Wendy, I truly enjoyed this post! I can so relate to all you’re feeling. The baby analogy is perfect?I am looking forward to reading IT’S A MYSTERY,PIG FACE!, and telling you what a wonderful writer you truly are!

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Author of Children's Literature