Publishing a book is scary

I have a few things in common with the main character in my series, Bernice Hordstrom. We’re both detrimentally stubborn. We both have a heavy dose of indignant self-righteousness. We’re both suckers for chest hair and a nice butt on our guys. But I instilled in Bernice a trait that is sorely lacking in myself, a big ol’ pile of moxie.

Fortunately, I have wonderful woman in my life who do have moxie, so I know what it looks like. It’s that apparent fearlessness that allows a person to feel confident and empowered. Boy, that must be nice.

You know what’s not nice? Living in a constant state of fear and self-doubt.

Never has that state become harder to leave than when I have to show my work to professionals. It’s getting to that point now. I’ve completed my third book, and now I’m trying to convince myself that I am good enough to query for a literary agent. All I have to do is just look at articles about it, and my first instinct is to hide like a hobbit.

It’s one of the reasons I self-published in the first place, that and I have a severe lack of patience (another thing Bernice and I share). Being a fictional author was not even something that I knew I wanted until just a few years ago. The idea of sending out my very first finished book (ever) to a literary agent was simply too intimating to bear.

So I made a promise to myself, and my husband, that when I completed Book 3 in the series, I would pursue the route of getting it published through a publishing house (verses self-publishing). That’s where I’m at now. Mentally, I’m shitting bricks.

Both the statistics and the expectations stagger me. An average literary agency receives THOUSANDS of query letters a year. Out of that gigantic tree of paper, they break out one teeny, tiny branch of 1%. Even if I am the lucky branch, I could sit languishing for months while the agent tries to market my series to publishers who are even more selective than they are. That means that the query letter and those sample pages better be damn near perfect.

By the way, this is not bitterness, this is cold reality. I’m from Northwestern Wisconsin. I come from the land where it’s perfectly possible to freeze to death in your sleep six months out of the year. That fact is less frightening to me than the daunting task of getting published.

I’ll keep you posted.

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