|photo from Flickr.com by Alan Levine
OMG! What is wrong with you?
The other day, I felt like I had validation from an outside source. In the WOW! course, my students start their novel writing process with a tagline and book cover summary as well as picturing where in the bookstore or on the Amazon "bookshelf" their book would fit. My philosophy is before spending months on a book, figure out your goals and if you want to be published, where readers will find your books and whether they will want to read it. Is your book about something? You have to think of the story hook (the tagline) and where readers will find you. I know this is good advice, and it's helped me with my own writing. But I was doubting myself when teaching the class.
Maybe we shouldn't have started this way, I thought. Maybe we should have begun with planning the novel using Save the Cat.
But then I was listening to the lastest Self-Publishing Show podcast with Mark Dawson and James Blatch. They also offer classes, and they get good reviews just like we do at WOW! I know that the information they share on their podcast is "right," and it matches what I hear and read on other sites, including WOW!. (Why do I trust them and not myself?!?) But until I heard one of them say that it's smart to start with your book cover and tagline before you even write a word, I hadn't felt confident that I was correct to start this way when teaching my class. As I was listening to that episode, I even said out loud to myself (or to the dog, as we all know she is hanging on my every word): "So I do know what I'm talking about. I should be more confident in my abilities and teaching."
This week, I was also worried about some advice I gave to a picture book author. (Right now, there's a lot of time at home, folks, alone with our thoughts, right?) Let's look at my credentials: I have a picture book traditionally published. I have been to countless workshops on picture books. I have read hundreds of picture books, new and old. I know the trends. I offer a picture book package on my Editor-911.com site, and one of my picture book clients recently secured an agent who sold the book to a publisher! (This is very exciting. It's almost like I have my own agent when a client is successful!) I know I help people take their ideas and make them better. But still I worried: Am I giving her the right advice?
Sometimes, I think the fact that I do worry is what makes me a good editor. If I thought I knew it all, then I wouldn't study and think about clients' work long after I shut down my computer.
But I'm still irked at myself for needing this outside validation. But isn't that true for most writers? I thnk it's why we take rejection and bad reviews so personally and can't stop obsessing about them, even if we have 500 good reviews. I'm not sure if it's true for most editors, but it's true for me. And I'm working on having more confidence in my years of experience, repeat clients, good reviews, and so on. Having confidence is not boastful. It's not bragging. It's just understanding that I know what I'm talking about and I have the knowledge and skills to educate and help others reach their goals.
Here's to confidence and kicking imposter syndrome out the door!
can sign up whenever. But she's teaching the WOW! novel writing course for any genre now, and the next one is on May 1. You can find that syllabus at the link. To find out more about Margo, go to www.margoldill.com.