They’re Just Not That Into You: Ego vs. Humility

I was reading a publishing forum the other day and was appalled by one commenter. She had just gotten her rejection notice after months of waiting, and was (obviously) disappointed. But rather than just expressing her disappointment, she went sassy, saying she wasn’t going to bother to thank anybody because they didn’t give her a real chance anyway, and she was going to self-publish this one and all the rest. You could just hear the “so there” implied in her rant!

It’s one thing to be disappointed. That’s completely normal! Expected, even.

It even is perfectly understandable to think all of those things: nanny-nanny-boo-boo, I can get published without you!

But it was just nasty and mean-spirited to do so in a public forum, and, really, all I think she achieved was making people not WANT to work with her (I wouldn’t want to). And that’s really the opposite of the message you want to be sending with your internet transactions; the next time a publisher or an agent comes along, they might Google you, and the way you act online might — fairly or not — influence their decision to take you on.

It’s a tricky thing for sure. To write a novel and begin the publishing process, you have to have a bit of an ego. It’s an egotistical thing to think “Oh yeah, I have a novel in me. I should be published instead of all those other people.” That’s a powerful drive, and it takes a lot of time and effort to get published, so that kind of ego can keep feeding that drive, even when things are hard and the wait is long.

But you also have to be humble. As special a snowflake as you may be, the agents and publishers out there are in a blizzard. It’s a competitive market, and it’s only getting more so. It really is a miracle that some people get plucked from obscurity (the slush pile, or the deep dark dregs of the ebook list) and become authors with a decent market. That is downright amazing. But, unlike any jolly red elf miracles, it just doesn’t happen over night. It takes work, and it takes some skill, and it takes a lot of luck.

And try not to embarrass yourself with the gatekeepers too badly. That helps, too.

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