Can’t Hit Send?
A writer emailed me:
The novel is finished, the query letter is drafted, the synopsis is as tight as I can get it, and I still can’t bring myself to hit that damned “send” button. I’m sure you see the work of many writers who query too eagerly and make bone-head mistakes… I’m trying to avoid making one of those blunders right now.
I have a feeling a lot of writers can relate to this. There’s always a nervousness that comes with putting yourself out there, especially if you’ve been preparing for a long time.
I’ve been thinking about this from my own perspective lately. I had a great conversation with a friend over lunch where we tried to identify the things that hold us back in our work. We tried to be really honest about our fears and talked about ways to keep our fears from impeding our success. I realized that I sometimes have the same fear of hitting “send” when I’m submitting an important project to editors at major publishing houses.
What holds us back? It’s our fear of failure. As soon as we put it out there, we become open to rejection. What if we did it wrong? What if it’s not good enough? What if someone says it’s horrible? Can I handle that?
I even feel that way about the blog sometimes. What if my post is awful? What if nobody comments? Hitting “publish” is a risk every time.
We know all the answers to this, don’t we?
We only fail when we fail to try.
We miss every shot we don’t take.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
But I have a feeling you’re not looking for inspirational quotes here. Let’s talk about why you might be paralyzed when it comes time to send out that query. There are all the obvious reasons (fear of rejection, etc.) but I think there’s another factor. If you’re reading blogs and attending conferences, learning about the industry so that you can get published, you’re probably seeing a lot of “do this in your query” and “don’t do that in your query.” You’re being given so many different pieces of advice, and hearing so many agents say they’ll immediately reject you for making the smallest mistake… honestly, I think it’s enough to paralyze just about anyone.
We are telling you the bar is high and encouraging you to bring your very best work. Sometimes we tell you about how competitive it is out there, because we’re trying to give you a dose of reality.
But sometimes you have to shut your ears to all of that. You can’t take every iota of advice from every agent out there. You can’t run away scared every time someone says “This business is hard.” So all you can do is ask yourself: Is my manuscript (or proposal) ready to go? Have I done some homework so that I know which agents to query? Have I taken my time crafting the best query letter I can?
If so, then go for it. Hit “send.”
Don’t wait for perfection. You want your work to be as strong as possible, yet you can’t just wait forever, always saying, “I can do better.” At some point, you’ve got to listen to your gut when it tells you, “This thing’s good to go.”
You are definitely opening yourself up to rejection, but you could be opening yourself up to your future, too. You’ll never know unless you hit send.
Readers? Can you relate to the difficulty hitting “send”?
© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent