Tag: publisher

Meeting Imposter Syndrome

Two days ago I resumed work on a book proposal I’ve been meaning to write for a while and, to my dismay, something I met when I started the proposal was still there waiting for me: fear.

Some call it Imposter Syndrome. Tom Hanks has felt it. Thom Yorke has felt it. Neil Gaiman has felt it. Hell, even Michelle Obama has felt it. If you dare to do something that will place you in the public eye, like write a book that readers and critics will scrutinise, it makes sense that you’ll doubt yourself. What if they think you’re an idiot? Chances are, given hundreds of thousands of readers, someone somewhere will.

Book publishing, especially in the non-fiction categories, is just as much about the author’s credibility as it is about the book. Notice how many authors are journalists, professors or, at least, ‘experts’ in their fields. It makes sense from a publisher’s perspective because, while a book may be art to its author, to the publisher it’s an investment. I believe I can write this book but I have doubts whether potential publishers or agents will believe that I have enough credibility to sell it. Only one way to find out.

Dare greatly.

You Don’t Need to Qualify to be a Writer

To the right of my desk, in the top drawer of a steel white cabinet along with all my other qualifications is my Creative Writing degree from John Moores University. Though I’m proud of the work it represents I never felt I needed a degree or any form of qualification to write. When I doodled and sketched on a whim with pencils and crayons as a kid it never once entered my mind that I needed permission to draw.

In the job market of today’s specialised economy qualifications matter because many jobs require them and anyone who goes through their working life somehow ignoring them risks having little to no market power. It doesn’t have to be the most important thing in your life, but it still matters, if only to make money. That’s the job market but what about the book market?

If you look at the books for sale in your local supermarket you’ll often find they stock cookbooks, weight loss books, celebrity autobiographies or novels on the bestseller list. These books are ‘safe’, i.e. publishers feel confident these books will sell because the authors are well known or the genres are popular, e.g. crime. If you’re unknown and the book you’ve written or propose to write is unlike anything in the current market then publishers will think you’re too risky to publish. But, as history has shown, many people eventually break through the gates. It make take them years or decades but they get through.

I doubt any publisher ever looked at a Creative Writing degree and thought that was enough to publish someone.