Success Baffles Me

I have always been my own worst critic. I grew up with self-esteem issues and a defense mechanism I learned at an early age was to always say worse things about myself than anyone else could. That way, other people’s opinions of me or my work wouldn’t hurt so much. Yes, it’s a terrible way to live but childhood is what it is, and we all learn coping mechanisms – some good, some bad.

When it came time to publish my book, I prepared myself for the worst. I imagined all the terrible, 0-star reviews that people would post about the book, the hate that would infect social networks about my miserable excuse for a fantasy novel. The apocalypse was about to happen, and it was my own fault.

But the apocalypse didn’t happen. All of the reviews of The Fifth Vertex have been positive, even those from people I don’t know, people without a vested interest in making me happy. People with absolutely no stake in the game genuinely liked the book. More than that, the book has actually been selling well.

Today, The Fifth Vertex is #10 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Epic Fantasy. It’s ranked 37th overall in Epic Fantasy, and 52nd overall in all Epic Fantasy books. As I sit and watch this happen, without me having done any serious advertising for the book, my only thought is what’s wrong? What mistake is happening to cause this? What algorithmic fluke has allowed my book to appear on the same page as a Robert Jordan book or Terry Goodkind and even Stephen King?

Trust me when I say this isn’t just humility at work. I genuinely cannot figure out why the book is doing so well. I am genuinely shocked when people tell me they liked the book. I was shocked when my stepdaughter loved the book so much she read it over, and over, and over again. She wants to make sure all of her friends read the book because she thinks it’s amazing. I honestly don’t know how something like that could have happened.

What I will do, despite my own doubts about the level of my writing, is continue on. I’m working on book 2, and I’m continuing to make plans for marketing The Fifth Vertex. While part of me waits for the other shoe to drop and the stream of unending bile and loathing to come from my readers, part of me has fulfilled a life-long dream of entertaining people with words and a story that I truly love.

  • Brian Gerhardt

    OK, so I’m only on Chapter 11 as of this morning’s commute, but I’m really enjoying it right now. You should be proud of your work. Tell a good story and the rest will just fall into place, right?