Saturday, April 6, 2013


Common advice tells us that confidence can make a difference in how people perceive you and contribute to success in all areas of our lives. Dress for success!

It is good advice. We should all take it, even the writers among us.

Confidence can be fleeting when your life is filled with rejection, published reviews and constant self doubt. I used to keep a file folder of rejection letters. At first, I kept all of them. In those days, queries were sent by snail mail with a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). Weeks or months later, I would find a 9x12 envelope in my mailbox with my handwriting on it. Usually it was a form letter rejection attached to my manuscript.

When the personal letters of rejection started coming, it could make my day. My husband would stand next to me, perplexed as to why I was so excited about getting rejected. You don’t understand, I said. He still doesn’t.

A high point of these rejections was one I received on a picture book submission. It was a personal rejection, in the form of a handwritten note scribbled on letterhead. Even more exciting, there were pencil marks all over the manuscript itself. Someone at this big 6 publishing house took the time to work on my manuscript. I was over the moon!

I stopped saving those rejections. Queries shifted to email, which don’t have the same signature impact as a personalized note penned by an editor. I am pretty sure I saved my acceptance letter from Solstice Publishing in my email box, which doesn’t have the same nostalgic feel as a file drawer of yellowing paper.

Writers face a lot of obstacles in our careers, and we are constantly seeking validation. It has to be one of the professions most mired in self doubt. This problem doesn’t end with publication. Then we worry if people will like the book, if it will sell enough, if the next book will be any good, or if that one will sell. 

Back in the day, I gained confidence when an editor gave my work thought enough to write a personalized note. These days, I gain my confidence from my readers. They are my most important critics now. For all those who shared reviews and ratings on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere, thank you. It is fuel for the writer’s soul. 

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