One scary thing every day

About six months ago, I said I’d never want to own my own business. Three months ago, while researching what it took to self-publish my books, I realized I’d need to do exactly that. All the experts on self-publishing encourage you to treat it as a business right from day 1, so in early July, I dropped off one of my kids at the dentist and walked across the street to Town Hall. Fifteen minutes later, I became a small business owner.

This is scary. I’m not going to lie — going ahead and becoming Philangelus Press required a commitment from me, a commitment to risk failing in a very big way. A public way.

So I researched. I got my tax ID and a bank account. I lined up freelancers and wrote a business plan and bought my ISBNs. I have a list of things to do that’s as long as my arm. And at some point, I froze because it was just too difficult. Too many things. “I can’t,” I said to my Patient Husband about buying the ISBNs. “I know I need to do this, and I’ve set aside the money to do it. But I get onto their website and I know pushing the button is the point of no return.”

He said to me, “Try doing one scary thing every day.”

So I’m trying. One scary thing every day. Scary things like buying ISBNs, like setting up an Amazon seller account, like interviewing narrators for audiobooks. And after I’ve done it, it doesn’t seem scary anymore, so I move on to the next scary thing.

A week after my Patient Husband returned with K1 and K2 from vacation, the mailman delivered a large, flat package. I joked, “More Magic cards?” and my Patient Husband said, “Look and see.” It was a canvas of this image (for which I’m sure I’d get a takedown notice, by the way, so just go over and look and save me a legal headache.)

It’s called “Leap of Faith,” and the artist explains that one day he looked into a tree about 20 feet overhead and saw a duck looking out of a hole. He pulled out his camera and waited…waited…and after about five hours, the duck launched, and for the first time, he could see she’d had chicks behind her. He started snapping pictures, and out tumbled all these baby ducks, for the first time spreading their wings and learning to fly on the way down.

He said, “I thought you’d like that story.”

I did. But more than that, I looked at the baby ducks and saw myself: born to fly but never having done so. Flying must be scary the first time, especially flying from so high up, and those stubby wings that look so underpowered for the size of the bird. But they leaped, and they flew, and they made it to water.

So every day, I work on my one scary thing. I’m willing to fail in a big, public way. But maybe on the way down, Philangelus Press will learn to fly.


  1. Elizabeth Duncan

    (Love the new look of the blog, BTW).

    Thank you for this post. I really needed it today. I admire what you are doing. I will definitely be buying every one of your titles as soon as they are released. 🙂

  2. ruthkj5656

    Love this post. Well done, you. Keep flying in the face of fear and you’ll get there. 🙂

  3. Loriendil

    I’m on the exact same journey, my friend. If you want to talk shop or partner up for a crying fit or something, just let me know!

  4. Lauren Lynch

    Testing my wings right along with you! <3

  5. seschoen

    Awesome advice. If we are never scared or confused or uncomfortable, then we aren’t growing. (And if we’re scared or confused or uncomfortable too often, then we start shrink.)

  6. Bopper

    There is a quote I like: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

    1. philangelus

      The question I usually ask myself is “What would a brave woman do?” and then I try to make that the thing I do.

  7. pen11

    I found your blog from a forum I used to lurk on. You always dispensed wise advice, so I came to see what you had to say here.
    Over the course of a few months (and whilst I was doing RCIA) I read back through all of the archives of your posts. I really enjoy your style, and although I probably don’t agree with you on everything it was very helpful. I also read the Seven Archangels book that was available online at the time, and all of the short stories where the links still worked. I love your work.
    I have the two of your books that are available on the kindle in the UK (The Boy Upstairs and The Wrong Enemy), and read them as soon as they came out. I’m so excited that more will soon be available! Aside: I was just fact checking before posting and I see that Seven Archangels: Annihilation is now available for kindle too since 5 September. Why was this not publicised on your blog? Now I own all three of your books that are available for kindle in the UK.
    (I really hope I didn’t come across like a crazy stalker: I just wanted to say thanks for the enjoyment and encouragement I’ve had from your writing, and cheer you on with the publishing).

    1. philangelus

      You’re not a crazy stalker — thank you for coming over to the blog and telling me about it. I’m so happy you were reading here during RCIA, and no, I’m probably not right about everything I’ve ever posted here, but then the folks in the comments help keep me on track.

      I didn’t publicize the kindle edition of Annihilation because I want to wait fo rthe print version to be ready. I’m about to start putting a bunch of stuff out there, and I’m afraid I’m going to give everyone announcement fatigue. “Oh, gee, Jane’s got ANOTHER book…yawn.” So I did a soft release and just let it sit there, waiting until it’s joined by its paperback sibling and the papeback version of The Wrong Enemy. It never occurred to me anyone might go looking for it! Thank you!

  8. radiqx

    It actually gets to be fun after a while…maybe after the third or fourth book 🙂

  9. Ken Rolph

    There’s a lesson here about putting things off. You should do it when you are young and too innocent to know what you are getting into. In 1977 (when I was somewhat younger than I am today) I thought it would be nice to be a publisher. So I contacted the National Library (of Australia) and asked about the ISBN thing. They sent me a computer print out on that large pieces of paper with green and white stripes. It contained my publisher prefix and 100 self allocating ISBNs. I still haven’t used all of them.

    Publishing is supposed to have become easier, but from all I can see it is more complicated, with more procedures and more costs. When you get older you know too much about things that don’t work out. Today when I get a good idea for a publishing project I tend to go out to the shed to make wooden toys for the grandkids, and it soon passes.

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