Ditch the Asterisk

In the past, if you’d asked me what I do, I’d have probably said I was a stay-at-home mom. And that’s true…I have four kids who keep me very busy for most of my waking hours. But I’m also a writer. And since my book was published a few months back, it’s been easier to tell people, “I am a writer.” But what you wouldn’t have known is that if I told you I was a writer, I put a mental asterisk by that title in my mind. I’m a writer.*

I didn’t fully realize I was doing this until last week when I received my first industry review. I had been waiting anxiously for months to hear back about my Kirkus Indie review. Kirkus is actually known for very tough reviews and when you get a review, there is no guarantee it will be a good one. You just have to take what you get. (Of course you don’t have to publish the review if it’s bad.)

So I got an email from my publisher last week saying my Kirkus Indie review was ready. It was attached to the email so I read it from my inbox and was really excited. It was a great review (sigh of relief!) It was very affirming to get a positive review from a big deal in the publishing industry. I had gotten lots of positive feedback from friends who had read it but this felt different because it was unbiased and it was a professional review.

The next day I got another email saying that my review was now available on the Kirkus website. I clicked on the link and looked it over again. Yep, it was still good. Phew. But then I noticed a blue star next to the title of my book. Hmm. What did that mean? I didn’t have to look far to find out. At the top of the web page it read “For books of remarkable merit, look for the Kirkus Star.” What? My book is of remarkable merit? Oh my gosh! I got a Kirkus Star! I was shocked. I kept going back to the site for a couple days to make sure the star was still there. Maybe they put it there by accident? I was laughing at myself, but checking just the same.

I know I’m not alone. A lot of writers go through the roller-coaster emotions… “My book is great! Everyone will love it.”… “My book is terrible, no one will read it.” It’s normal, especially, I’m told, if you get a bad review or two. But my lack of confidence wasn’t really rooted in my book itself. After great reader feedback, I was pretty convinced my book was good. However, I’d had no industry confirmation of that. I don’t have an agent who tells me how much she loves my book. I don’t have a publisher who tells me they believe in my work.

See…I self-published, thus the asterisk. I didn’t think of myself as a full-fledged writer because anyone can self-publish and it doesn’t mean you have a great product. There is no validation in self-publishing. (Although, to be honest, I’ve read some things that were published traditionally that made me wonder how they ever got published.) Still, I hadn’t been “chosen” by a publisher so I gave myself an asterisk. Even after my book hit Amazon and Barnes & Noble and started getting great customer reviews, the asterisk was still there…hovering next to the word “writer.”

But now, a starred Kirkus review is giving me the courage to ditch the asterisk. I am truly a writer. I wrote a book and I write a blog and I’m going to keep writing. And whether I choose to self-publish again or seek out more traditional publishing avenues, when someone asks me what I do, I will tell them I am a writer. No asterisk.

How about you? Have you put an asterisk by anything in your life? Is there something that God made you to do but you’ve been too scared to fully embrace it? Maybe it’s time for you to ditch the asterisk, too.




(This post was inspired by Jeff Goins’ 15 Habits of Great Writers. Today’s topic was “Declare” and he challenged us to declare that we are writers. So there ya go!)

If you’d like to read my Kirkus Indie Review, please click here and feel free to click the Facebook-“Like” button next to the review. That will post it on your Facebook page and I will be very grateful!!


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  1. I can totally relate to this one Reb. I always feel the same way when someone asks if I’m an artist. I say yes, but in my mind there’s always a little thing buzzing around, saying, well sort of, not really. I guess that’s because I never went to school for it, and I don’t do anything consistantly to make a living at it. But that’s not really what makes someone an artist, so I guess I should stop doing that.

  2. congrats! SO happy for you 😀

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