Small victories can seem like the world to an independent author, but those feelings quickly fade into more self-doubt and second-guessing. The point of this article isn’t to discuss why we have those feelings, but rather, explore why we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones.
Fee required contests are a huge gamble, and I’ve never entered one. But there are plenty of free opportunities that can arise along the way that you should take advantage of. Recently, my county library opened up a contest for authors who were also members of the library. If they liked your book, they’d purchase five copies of it and make it available to the public.
A few weeks later, I got in. My Summer Vacation by Terrance Wade is happily sitting (and being checked out!) by library patrons.
One of my fellow Scriptors, Brooke Johnson, benefited from a contest which ended up with her signing a deal with Harper Voyager.
If it is free, and you meet the requirements, why hold yourself back? What does a “no” really cost? Rejection hurts, but not gaining the small victories from receiving a yes is worse for your career in the long run. You never know when something good will happen, so you should always take advantage when the prize is worth it (but, you know, read the fine print and what not).
If you want an agent, a publisher, or to join an author collective: submit your work. Query the right people, follow their instructions, find agents and publishers you think would work well with you. If you receive rejections across the board, see if they have any common threads. Did the agents/publishers give you advice? Constructive feedback? They know the industry, so maybe there is something you can learn from a rejection.
Recently, an editor sent me a very nice rejection email. She explained the two big issues she has with Conscious, and told me why she passed. I took that information and thought, “Will changing this change the story?” Nope. It didn’t. It made the book a little more marketable, but had no effect on the plot. So I’m implementing the edits as she suggested. A no cost me nothing, but actually gave me a lot.
Remember to Celebrate the Small Stuff
While it might not be a big deal that an editor read my entire book or to have a book in a library, it is. I’m doing this mostly on my own. I have incredible alphas, amazing beta readers, and fantastic author/writer friends. But at the end of the day, I’m doing my own editing, formatting, cover art, proofreading, and typesetting. I’m producing a book, on my own.
That’s huge. A lot of people never finish writing a book. And if you are a writer or an author, you need to congratulate yourself on every small victory. You’ve come much farther than other people. Celebrate the fact that each day you get a little farther along in your journey.
Celebrate any and all of the following:
A person you don’t know rates your book 5* with a glowing review
A person you look up to reads your book and likes it
A friend purchases your book because it sounds interesting
A library accepted a donated paperback copy
A library accepted a digital copy (because you are in a freaking library, come on)
An agent responded with a non-canned response
A publisher responded with a non-canned response
Someone new followed you on social media just because of your work
Someone new signed up for your newsletter just because of your work
A friend shared your work on their network on a social site
You finished drafting an outline
You finished writing a draft
You finished editing your draft
You published a freaking book.
The next step is to submit your work to anything and everything that applies. Because a no costs nothing, and can sometimes lead to something greater than expected.