A TOUCHY SUBJECT: Conceited Authors…and their opposites – Angela Hoy

Writers are a funny bunch. It seems they either have very low self-esteem…or far too much of it. That’s probably true of workers in most professions but, since writing is such a personal matter, writers can appear to go to the extreme with these emotions. Unfortunately, these feelings can lead to some unattractive actions that can harm or even ruin a writer’s opportunities for success.

Here are two examples:

John Q. Writer has dreamed of writing for his favorite glossy magazine for years, but was always too nervous to give it a try. When he finally got up the nerve to give it a go, his query letter fell flat with this: “You probably won’t buy my article but here’s my idea anyway…”

That type of submissive behavior is not attractive in the business world, nor does it create sympathy. It’s actually annoying to professionals. Most, if not all, editors would be turned off by this type of behavior, and will either reject John’s query, or ignore it altogether. John needs to portray confidence about his topic…but not too much so.

On the flipside, we have Jane Q. Author who has spent several years on her non-fiction, religious manuscript. In her book proposal, she writes that God told her to write the book (you can’t imagine how many authors say this about their religious manuscripts!) and that God also told her it’s destined to be a best selling book. If this author’s book never becomes a bestseller, she’s going to look foolish…much like those cult members who wake up and find themselves still alive the day after they predicted the world would end.

Even authors who don’t reference God, but who boldly announce up front that their book will be a bestseller, are extremely presumptuous and annoying to publishers. Authors with this type of behavior come across as prima donnas (holier-than-thou, if you will), and usually receive rejection notices. Publishers hear this from far too many hopeful authors and nobody wants to work with a big-headed know-it-all, do they? While it’s fine to privately hope your book will be a bestseller, and to even be confident about it, it’s not okay to openly brag about it before it occurs…because it might not.

Another mistake is to openly compare yourself to a bestselling author or celebrity journalist. Let’s be honest. Calling yourself the next Erma Bombeck or Stephen King is downright conceited. Nothing turns off an editor or publisher faster than someone who tries to ride the coattails of a true success in the industry with an irrelevant name-drop like this. Unfortunately, many writers make this mistake.

It’s a much better idea to portray confidence, mixed with a healthy dose of humility, and to let your own writing speak for itself. While a bit of self-confidence can go a long way, too little of it, or way too much, will have the opposite effect in your business dealings.

Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com is: “As close to perfection as you’re going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I’ve ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can’t go wrong here. Plus, they’re selective and won’t publish any manuscript just because it’s accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors’ books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know.”

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