Fear of Novel–How to Overcome the Shakes and Send it In!

So you wrote this novel, right? And you want everyone in the world to read it because they saw it on the New York Times bestseller list. And you want to win those shiny stickers they plonk on the cover.

So you edit, and you edit, and you edit some more…and you could really keep editing forever. But if you want readers, and bestsellers, and those shiny medals, you do at some point have to submit your manuscript to agents and publishers. Or you could self-publish, but I’m not touching that can of worms in this blog post.

What I am touching on is a pretty personal experience. I’m getting ready to start submitting my manuscript (my self-imposed deadline for final edits is April 8), and even though I tell writer friends all the time “just send it in!” I’m having a lot of trouble with that advice myself.

I’ve gotten over that impulse to edit, edit, edit in my short fiction. I submit short fiction like it’s my job (and believe me, I collect rejection letters like paychecks). But the novel…it’s just so much text! If you want every word in a novel to be perfect, good luck. It will take you until you die, and you probably still won’t be satisfied.

So maybe the secret here is: don’t settle for perfection. Settle for a coherent, compelling story line, gripping characters, and a unique concept. Let the editor edit (once you have one. Which you won’t, unless you submit).

I suppose it’s all well and good for me to say these things, but following your own advice is pretty hard sometimes. I know the novel’s good, unique, interesting. But in the final throes of editing, all I can do is glare at the document and cry “woe is me! It’s terrible!”

Another reason to submit: all those slush readers are impartial. If it’s good, they’ll like it. If I get a rejection letter, then there’s some basis for critical evaluation. But don’t reject yourself!

For those of you who are thinking of submitting, short fiction or long, I recommend AgentQuery and Duotrope as good resources. As for dealing with the crippling self-doubt: crush it with action!

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