There are lots of things jumping around in my head today. One of them is, "Happy birthday, Charles Dickens!" (And no Google Doodle for him? What gives, Google?)
But the thing that's burning in my heart to share with you is this: People out there need your book. They just don't know it yet.
Every once in a while, a reminder of that pops up. For example, at my last job, I worked on the revised edition of a book about using sign language in the classroom with young children. The author clearly knew her stuff and was wonderful to work with.
Then I came across something that surprised me. The manuscript had a brief section in which the author suggested coming up with name signs--essentially, invented signs that represent a specific person's name--for the children in one's class. She even included tips for creating name signs.
The thing is, I have a friend who was born Deaf (within that culture, the word is capitalized). I distinctly remembered a conversation in which he had told a group of friends, including me, that people don't come up with their own name signs. A name sign has to be given to you by a member of the Deaf culture, and that only happens after you've built a relationship with that person.
Knowing the significance of name signs, I worried that we would offend readers from the Deaf culture if we published the manuscript with this section intact. I voiced my concerns to the author, and she responded quickly and positively. She heavily revised the section to explain the cultural importance of name signs and added a specific statement that one should not invent name signs. Instead, she added ideas for other ways to use sign language with students' names (such as teaching children the signs for letters of the alphabet).
Would anyone else have caught that issue in the manuscript? I don't know. Maybe my boss had Deaf friends and would have spotted the problem when she reviewed the final, formatted-for-publication manuscript. Again, I don't know. But by that point, even if she'd caught the error, it would've been much harder to fix. Or--heaven forbid--she might not have noticed, and we might have published something with insensitive content.
Just as that author needed me, your readers need you. They're looking for authors who can teach them things they don't know, provide fascinating new ideas, and speak truth--whether that's done outright in nonfiction or cloaked in fiction. No one else can do those things the way you can. Even if someone else writes a book on the same topic or with the same basic plot, for some readers, only you can put the message together in a way that will reach them.
Don't give up. Your readers need you.
P.S. If you're struggling to write despite your noble purpose, click here to book a consultation call with me so we can break through those walls together.
(Thanks to Ian Schneider for sharing their work on Unsplash.)