“Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”
James F. Byrnes
I don’t consider myself to be intimidating. I like to try to be scary in my writing at times but usually end up wondering if I achieve that goal consistently. I have found, however, that fear, like beauty is highly subjective. A friend was reviewing the submission guidelines that my publishing company uses. She found them too intimidating for beginners and writers of say, romance or humor.
I agree with the assessment in part. Honestly, there is a method in the madness—or intimidation, if you prefer. The author of a standard romance story, or a The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank book of humor must still be serious about writing even though their work is not generally considered “serious” literature.
If you read any of my books, you know that literary fiction is not the type of writing I do. I write supernatural and paranormal fiction. Nevertheless, I am serious about doing so. I work at it. I invest time and effort into producing a story. If you are shelling out $13 for a paperback, you are hoping I delivered on the promises on the cover and the blurb on Amazon.
Authors, even those who self-publish, must submit their work to others. If they don’t, they are writers, but not authors. There’s nothing wrong with being a writer unless you want your work to be read outside your circle of family and friends. If you seek readers, you must take the steps to become an author.
The first giant step is submission to a ready critic. And I don’t mean your great-aunt the retired English teacher. I mean a professional editor who will tell you to your face that your manuscript is crap. The best ones will then add, “And this is what you need to do to fix it.”
This step holds no fear to the writer who knows their first draft is a monumental bestseller as is. I know some of them. I worked with them until I dared suggest changing things. Or answered the question, “Why is no one buying my book?”
From experience as a writer, I will admit submitting to a professional is fraught with a fear that fuels every anxiety of an overthinker like me. Every day they spend looking at it, you promise yourself—never again, I quit right now. But, of course, you are lying to yourself and you know it. You have probably started the sequel in your mind already.
Our submission guidelines at House of Honor books are intimidating, but they are standard fare. There’s nothing there that a traditional publisher does want from you. They will not even read your work unless you submit it just as they ask. We are a small publisher. Reading a manuscript takes time and before we invest that time, we want to see that you are ready to work with us. Your following our guidelines say that about you. And that’s enough for us to want to work with you.
I want to be open here about one point I mentioned above. Our submission guide is lacking in one very important point. We don’t care what color, religion, or gender identity you claim. Identifying as a victim of oppression will not get you to the head of the line or get your work accepted. Neither will it keep you from the line. Your writing will do that.
The bottom line is don’t let fear lie to you, intimidate you, and keep you from your dream. More important, at times, that putting words on a page is slaying the fear that keeps you from holding your work up high and telling the world, “I wrote this!”
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”—Eleanor Roosevelt