Imposter Syndrome

by: Margena Holmes

As an author, you will almost always have doubts at one time or another about your writing. Is it good enough? Am I good enough? How does an author feel validated? You may have a case of Imposter Syndrome.

What exactly is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. You may feel inadequate or incompetent as a writer despite evidence to the contrary.

Don't let Imposter Syndrome stop you from writing.

What Equates Success?

My problem with Imposter Syndrome is that I sometimes don’t feel validated as an author because I’m not “successful” in my eyes. But what equates to success? Having a certain number of books out? If that means success, then yes, I’m a successful author, having five books published and three more coming out this year (well, that’s my goal, anyway). I’m not prolific, but I’m trying to keep a steady pace of publishing books, with a goal of one a year now. I know authors who do more, but in many cases, writing IS their job. I work outside the home, so I have to plan my writing time around my work days as well as watching my grandson on some days and evenings.

Does successful mean having lots of sales? In that case, no, I’m not successful. I know of some indie authors who have weekly book sales, and they are bummed when they don’t sell a book in one particular week. I’d LOVE to have a book sold each week. My marketing skills suck, but I’m trying to learn more about marketing through reading books, like Craig Martelle’s Become A Successful Indie Author, Unmarketing by Scott Stratten, and Online Marketing for Busy Authors by Fauzia Burke. But I digress.

How about reviews on Goodreads and Amazon? I have a few of those, and they make me feel good about being an author (the good ones, anyway. The so-so ones leave me feeling like a fraud again). I’d love for a random reader to say they just found my book on Amazon and read it and loved it. I do have a couple of reviews from random readers, and they make me think, well, maybe I do have a handle on this writing thing.

How to Get Past it

How does one get over this sense of feeling like a fraud? Well, writing can be an isolating career, so talk with other writers. I’m sure they’ve felt the same way at some point in their career. Also, remind yourself of how hard you’ve worked to get where you’re at now. How many hours have you spent writing and editing? Those add up to being successful.

Reflect on positive feedback. I know authors aren’t supposed to read their book reviews, but that may help you to realize you are not a fraud. If you don’t have a book published yet, what positive feedback have you received from critique groups and beta readers? Focus on that.

A lot of people know that I’m an author and when they mention me and how many books I’ve published, I feel kind of embarrassed, because I don’t feel successful in my eyes. I don’t claim to know everything about writing and that’s why I go to writer’s conferences and workshops as often as I can to keep learning about the craft, and like I said above, I read a lot. I enjoy learning because it helps me to become a better author and maybe with that and the steps above I will overcome Imposter Syndrome and I’ll finally feel validated as a writer.


Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.