I’m not great at asking for help.
Beyond being a single woman who prides herself on her independence, I’m also an only child who was raised to be self-reliant. Growing up, I mostly had to entertain myself, and I took care of my own laundry and other me-centric chores when I was still pretty young. I got a job as soon as it was legal, and there were times I juggled three or more simultaneously. While I would have loved all the expensive vacations, clothes, and other perks my friends enjoyed, I’m glad my parents taught me how to manage my own money and take care of myself.
Sometimes we can’t do it all on our own. Lately I’ve struggled with a lot of self-doubt about my writing career. Even though that inner voice is screaming that I worked in marketing for over ten years, and should be able to figure out everything about book promotion on my own, it’s a lot easier to promote other people–at least, that’s what I’m finding. I’ve been grappling with some pretty big questions. Keep submitting to agents and editors or stick with my smaller, sure-thing presses? And if I keep submitting, when’s the cut-off mark so these books aren’t on the query-go-round forever? What should my next move be? What’s the best way to find new readers and turn them into loyal fans?
Finally, instead of always whining about how I needed a writing mentor but had no idea how to find one (sadly, there’s no Mentors-R-Us), I decided to do the unthinkable and ask for help. Unfortunately, people who are at the level I hope to get to tend to be extremely busy. I asked anyway, even though I felt terrible about imposing.
As expected, some of the people I asked for help were too busy, even when I offered to pay for their time. But most were more than willing to point me in the right direction, and one dear writer friend offered to ask a USA Today bestselling author to mentor me. Another offered to introduce me to his agent. While I was incredibly touched by their generosity and openness, I wasn’t overly surprised. Writers are, in general, the nicest, most giving people on the planet. And most of them, no matter how far up the ladder of success they’ve climbed, remember what it was like to be beset by doubt and fear. Some of them still are, even the ones who have achieved the success most of us only dream of.
Sometimes it’s great to figure out a problem on your own. But other times, it’s even better to ask for help.
Do you have a writing mentor? If so, how did you first connect with them? What’s the best way you’ve found of marketing your work?
Thanks to Lee Murray, Tim Waggoner, Ronald Malfi, and Hunter Shea for always taking the time. You’re good people–the best.
The purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.