I harbor many irrational fears. As New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane puts it, "Sometimes the brain is a dungeon." Just ask my husband about the phase I went through in college when I became convinced that a cinder block was going to hit me on the head (thrown off a dorm balcony during spring cleaning, of course).
Here's the thing: I'm not scared people will hate my book. (I hope they don't, but if they do, I can accept that. Everyone has different taste in stories. It's really okay.)
No. What frightens me are the people who will dislike what they think has occurred in my book, rather than what has actually occurred. The Misinterpreters, I'll call them.
A friend of mine wrote a project a few years back, in which the words "[FirstName] Effing [LastName]" showed up as a tribute to a celebrity. (You know, like when you think someone's "effing awesome.") This phrase was used on a few occasions, within a larger context of showing that the author had idolized the celebrity and wished to emulate her. Well, an early reviewer claimed that the words, "Eff You, [First Name, Last Name]" were used, and lambasted my friend for being crude and disrespectful toward the celebrity. In short, the reviewer had not only missed the point, he or she had gotten it backwards, and then reviewed the wrong information.
What's frustrating is that there's no recourse in those situations. It's not a matter of opinion or taste, it's a matter of being factually incorrect, but pointing this out risks looking defensive or whiny.
So now you know all about my fear.
Writers: What are your publishing fears?
Reviewers: If you were to misremember or misinterpret something, would you want to be corrected (not by the author, but perhaps by other readers)? Or would you consider that a breach of the reader/reviewer code?