Writing a novel is the easy part of being an aspiring author.
When I finished War Sonnets, sent it through the last batch of beta readers and critiques, and polished it until it shined, I felt like I was on the home stretch. I’d written a good story, felt validated by the work I’d put in and the positive feedback I’d received. I was ready to send my baby out into the world of agents and publishers.
Now, six weeks into querying (aka trying to find an agent to represent my work), I’m beginning to question everything I ever thought about writing and my abilities as a writer. Twenty-six queries sent, “thanks but no thanks” rejections (some encouraging, but still a rejection) crickets from the rest so far. I know it’s early–way too early–in the querying process, but right about now my self-confidence is lying in the gutter, trampled, bruised, and muddied. No broken bones yet, but the day is young and I am filled with doubt.
Is my story really that bad? Is there too much cursing? Too little action? Not enough angst? Or maybe it’s me. Am I too old? Too white? Too female? Maybe my pen name is totally wrong for a war story.
But, but, but…… I can change all that!! (Except for the age. Sorry.) I have worked so hard researching, writing, refining, making sure I have a variety of beta readers including sensitivity readers to check the accuracy of my portrayal of combat and characters of a different race and gender. My editor has earned every penny of what I’ve paid for her guidance.
I so want to have War Sonnets traditionally published. Yes, I could self-publish, but I want the validiation that I feel comes with traditional publishing. Who am I to decide my work deserves to be in print? (Hello, imposter syndrome!) It feels like so much vanity; I suspect it’s more a lack of self-confidence.
There are a lot of successful, self-published novels out there. Really, really good novels. I’ve read them and marveled at their authors. And, to be honest, I’ve read some self-published novels that are awful. Why do I fear I might fall into the latter category?
So tell, me, self-published authors: How did you get the chutzpah to go it alone? How is it going for you?