Hint: It’s not the traditional gatekeepers.
My latest book will be done once I transcribe the final edits from the printed manuscript. I have a rough draft of a query letter written, and all I need to do is apply the suggestions my writing critique offered to make it better. Once I’ve completed these two tasks, I can begin the process of querying agents, hoping that one of them will find something in what I’ve written to request more, and eventually find the book its perfect publisher.
And yet, I’m letting that manuscript collect dust in a corner of my office. I’ve even started writing another book, all while my unpublished novel stares at me, wondering when I’m going to get the courage to finish the final tasks.
What’s wrong with me? I’ll tell you. Fear.
I’m a self-published author of eleven books so far. I took the indie route seriously, paying for editing and covers, and researching everything I could get my hands on to learn how to write and market. It’s been a rough road financially, and I’ve made more mistakes than successes, but the journey has also been rewarding in that I made my dream of being an author come true.
I like self-publishing
I like that I have control over what I write, how often I publish, the price of my book, and everything else that goes along with publishing a book. I like the lucrative opportunity in self-publishing — that you can make a lot of money if you strike literary gold, and you won’t have to share it with a bunch of gatekeepers.
What I don’t like about self-publishing is that I’m a lone wolf. Not only do I write the book, but I have to pay for editing, pick the cover that will best sell it, come up with the blurb that will capture a reader’s interest, market it in a variety of different ways, be spunky and perky on social media, and still find time to write. With a day job. With a meager book budget. With waning energy after every book I write because eleven books later, I still haven’t found the success that will allow me to quit my job and focus on my writing career.
It’s time for a different path
I chose self-publishing from the start, deciding to bypass the gatekeepers that might prevent me from getting published. But now, I am throwing my hat in the traditional publishing ring. I’d like to see if this new path might benefit me. I want to see what it will be like to have professionals help with cover and interior design, a higher paid editor, and if they can get my book in Reese’s Book Club and maybe the New York Times Best Seller List. I want to see if a traditional publishing deal will get my book in front of new readers, and start the process toward my full-time writing career. My hope is that I can finally do what I was meant to be doing instead of treading water in the 9–5 grind, hoping someone will throw me a lifeline.
Because I’m drowning.
Still, my manuscript sits. The rough draft query letter remains locked in my computer. And no agent has heard of this book because I haven’t told them about it. I’m trying to figure out what I’m afraid of.
Success? Maybe. Rejection? Absolutely.
Biggest Gatekeeper = FEAR
All these years, I haven’t had to wait for someone to tell me my book was worthy before I published it. I could put it out in the world because I said so, because I believed it was ready.
Now, I’m placing myself in the vulnerable position of seeking approval. I am asking a professional to grade the hard work I’ve put into this book. Their assessment of my novel could make my dreams come true, or it could crush them. I’ve developed thick skin over less than stellar reviews, friends and family members who have ignored my books, and the flat line of my sales numbers. But I’ve yet to figure out how to face an agent who might reject my book.
Of course, my procrastination is only feeding my fear. The longer I wait to pull the trigger, the more excuses I come up with as to why traditional publishing is the wrong road.
This is the week. No more excuses. Maybe. I hope.
Wish me luck.