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Fear of Success

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 When you’re querying and submitting a manuscript, you’re afraid of failure. You’re thinking, ‘Will anybody say yes to my hot mess written and revised and revised again manuscript?’ 

Even though you’ve labored over it for years months and months, you have doubts. It looked shiny and sparkly a long time ago, but now… Now it looks like your manuscript might end up on some bookshelf gathering dust because every agent and every publisher is either not answering your query, or they’re saying no.

However, what happens when you get a yes? You get a yes from a publisher, you get a yes from an artist to get a book cover, you get a yes from review team members, you get a yes from a newspaper book editor, you get yes after yes after yes… What happens then?

First thing: you take a breath.

Working on a project for five years is like running a marathon. You pace yourself, you often sometimes wonder if you’re going to make it to the end but then you see the finish line, and you go all-out. My manuscript-turned-book was Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story and since it was about the Tulsa Race Massacre, my publisher and I were determined to get it printed and delivered in time to go to Tulsa for the 100-year commemoration. So, as our deadline approached, there was last-minute editing and decisions.

Crossing the deadline while traveling at top speed meant I was exhausted. Out of breath. Once I took some deep breaths and drank a few bottles of wine water and ate some chocolate oranges, I was ready for what came next.

                                                                   image by Pixabay

And what does come next? It certainly depends on what kind of book you’ve written and what is going on in the world, but here are some suggestions:

Get business cards made. Pass them out to anybody who is breathing looks interested in your book.

Contact your local libraries. I emailed the three library systems in my area, and one has responded. I’m going to be part of a three-author panel. Our presentation is going to be called, “Do You Have a Book Inside You That’s Trying to Chew Its Way Out?” All three of us are first-time authors, so we’re gearing out talk to an audience of frustrated writers.

Set up book signings at independent book stores. I have a great relationship with the Half-Price Bookstores in the St. Louis area because of the dog rescue group I belong to. You’re not fnished with your manuscript yet? Develop a connection with the bookstore owners in your area so when you have a published book to sell, you’ve already done some of the groundwork.

Think outside the box. Think of some unique connections. Is there a cooking thread in your novel? Approach some restaurant owners. Maybe they’d love to have you over for a book talk, while they serve some appetizers and wine. Is there a stray dog/dog rescue in your book? Perhaps a dog event would allow you to set up a table. Is your book historical fiction? How about asking historical societies if they’d like you to do a presentation. The possibilities are endless.

And finally (and perhaps most importantly),

Start something new. You have to keep your writing momentum going. So, while you’re setting up book signings and setting up author talks and designing business cards and expandable banners, write. Begin a new manuscript. After all, you first were afraid to fail, then you were afraid of success because when you succeed, your life totally changes and it involves lots of unknowns. Start a new writing project and start a whole new marathon…

What are you working on right now? Inquisitive Sioux wants to know.

Sioux Roslawski is a middle-school teacher, a dog rescuer and a freelance writer. In May 2021 her debut novel, Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story, was published. If you’d like to check out more of Sioux’s writing, head to her blog at



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