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You & Your Manuscript Deserve Love
By M. Alouette
Social media can make it seem like everyone is happier and more successful than you. That includes writers and their books. According to Facebook and Instagram, everyone in your feed is getting book deals except for you. Of course, that's probably not true. And even if it were, it does not matter. Those people are not you. Their books are not your books. Only you can tell your stories and express your ideas in exactly the way that you are meant to do. There is enough space for your voice.
Feelings of competitiveness, inadequacy, and jealousy are unfortunately normal. Regardless of peer group, people will compare themselves to each other. Writers of all genres are no different. We suffer from envy, too. Yet you can choose how to move forward after your first reactions. If your first reaction is to feel jealous after you find out a peer has landed a book deal, ask yourself what you want your second reaction to be. Do you want to dwell on that jealousy? Or do you want to congratulate that person, order their book when it comes out, and get back to writing? Make a choice. Actions that involve graciousness, kindness, and positivity are often the best options. Remember—your peer's book deal shouldn't prevent you from writing your heart out, editing your work, and submitting your manuscript. A book deal is still a possibility for you. People of all ages and backgrounds get books accepted and published these days. You are never too old, whether you're turning 40 or 80.
It's tempting to feel down when you see people living your dreams. Writers are imaginative people and we spend a lot of time dreaming. We picture ourselves finishing a manuscript, signing book contracts, being the guest of honor at readings and signings, reading our author interviews in publications we adore, and answering emails from fans. At the most basic level, we want to tell a story, know that others read it, and that it touched them. We have a voice and we want to use it. When we notice our peers get book contracts when we aren't, it can feel like nobody cares about our voice. That hurts because it makes us feel powerless, even unimportant or, worse, worthless. Know that you are not powerless. You do have power, more than you probably recognize.
The publishing industry is expanding. There are more presses and book titles now than ever before. Thanks to the online ebook creator by Venngage, you can even make your own ebook from scratch. Publishing is becoming more inclusive, not exclusive. There is room for a story well told. Some manuscripts may need more nurturing from a dedicated editor and a writer willing to put in the time, but once those manuscripts are fully realized, the publishing opportunities are there. Perhaps you need to spend more time with your manuscript before it becomes a book. You might need to reflect a little longer and do more re-writes. Or maybe you need to better research presses before you submit your work to them. The biggest, most "glamorous" press might not be the right home for your book. There is no shame in that. Be honest with yourself about your manuscript, as it is and where you hope for it to be. Close that gap. Do the work and honor your principles. The time will come when it's right for you and your book. Rushing the process won't help and probably only increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
Publishing really and truly isn't a race. You might have to deactivate Facebook for a while and spend more time straight writing (and reading!) to get in touch with your values and actual aspirations (not just peer pressure.) If that's the case, do yourself the favor. Facebook will still be there when you're ready to go back, perhaps with a book deal in hand—and if not, at least more resilient and self-confident than before.
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