This blog is part of a series by mental health writer and Dear Blue Author, Saoirse Schad. Pictured: a laptop covered in sticky notes sitting on a picnic table outdoors

My book is with my editor and I’m in hell

Hiring a professional editor was perhaps the most important step in My Little Publishing Adventure. Bringing someone else aboard the adventure train forced me to start taking the whole thing seriously. Hiring Peter Dunne is what made me actually finish my debut novel.

Meet my editor

I first met Peter when he was the editor of GCN (Gay Community News) Magazine. The magazine is Ireland’s leading LGBTQ+ publication and it also happens to be the place where I became a professional writer. Peter and I worked together for a year before we both left GCN within a few weeks of each other.

Peter is a mega-talented editor with lots of other feathers in his cap. He’s an award-winning writer, playwright, producer and creator of audio dramas, podcasts and unusual experiences. He’s also the writer-director of the sensational Petrified Podcast which continues to win numerous accolades and spook the heck out of scaredy-cats like me.

Hiring Peter was a no-brainer. I love the way he works and I’ll take any opportunity to work with him again. Inviting him, an established actual real-life professional in creative Ireland, meant that I had to get my sh*t together.

So I got my sh*t together

It took a while to kick off and we ended up delaying publication by a year so I could look after my mental health. But we finally came up with a timeline that should be more than doable.

I planned it perfectly. I divided my calendar into writing months, revision months, beta-feedback months, professional edit months, etc. But I f*cked my plan out the window almost immediately, as happens so often with my timelines.

For a long time, I just couldn’t get myself to write, to put words on a page. It was too hard and too complicated because I was pulling from childhood experiences I hadn’t yet worked through. In fact, this book really became my opportunity to work through those emotional wounds.

As you’ll know from my previous posts in this series, it took a lot of therapy to get me to finally write that last page. Then, it took banning myself from Instagram to finally get my personal revisions done. And let me tell you, when I crossed my final revisions off my list, I was damn proud of what I’d done.

And now, my sh*t is together

So, Dear Blue has finally found its way to a professional editor. Because of the aforementioned f*cking-my-plan-out-the-window, this is much later than I had hoped. So, unfortunately, I had to cut some corners when it came to beta-reading.

Originally I had planned on recruiting thirty betas, a mix of people I know and general YA readers. Then when I realised I was falling behind, I cut the list in half and only focused on the volunteers from my own life. When I realised just how tight the schedule actually is, I cut yet more corners. I decided to give the book to betas while it was with Peter. I figured I could consolidate both rounds of feedback into one set of revisions, thereby streamlining the process.


The problem is, I’ve just discovered that I’m a stinkin’ coward and I’m beyond terrified of getting feedback from my loved ones. In fact, my editor even advised against it. He pointed out that I wouldn’t want to be overwhelmed by too much feedback all at once, which is a valid point.

So I’ve sent the book out to everyone I promised could read it, with the caveat that I’m not particularly looking for feedback. The exception to this is my wife (who has a great eye for this kind of thing) and my mother (who has a mental health background and would be able to pick up on any inaccuracies).

Right now, at this particular moment in time, I’m okaaay. But the last week or so has been really difficult. I’ve been picturing my loved ones reading the book and being disappointed when they learn that I’m not as talented as they thought, or I’ve been wasting my time on something that will never amount to anything. I know it’s imposter syndrome talking, but it’s hard to overcome. My loved ones’ opinions are the ones that matter most, so it feels very vulnerable to share the unpolished version of Dear Blue with them.

This isn’t my mental health blog, of course (check out my Instagram for that!), but I want to share every aspect of my publishing journey here. These fears and anxieties are a very big part of the experience.

On next week's episode...

In self-publishing, there is no big company behind you.

There’s no traditional publishing gatekeeper who chose your book out of a slush pile and told you your book was good enough for public consumption. In self-publishing, it’s just me and my own belief in my abilities (plus the belief my loved ones have in me). That, unfortunately, is something that fluctuates. Right now, I’m not exactly where I want to be in the self-belief spectrum.

Hopefully, by my next post here, things will have turned around.

With any luck, I’ll have heard from my editor, and maybe one or two select beta-readers, to get some constructive feedback and restore my confidence.

In the meantime, I’m plodding along with other publishing admin so it’s a good time for me to get the book out of my head and put these nerves to good use.

Wish me luck!

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