The Doubt Demon

Do you battle the doubt demon? That scary inner voice that whispers, “What makes you think you can make it as a writer?”

I know exactly how you feel. In my career as an author, I’ve faced every doubt demon you’re facing now.

Let me tell you a true story. Years ago, like every new writer trying to break in with their first novel, I sent queries to literary agents, then waited and hoped.

One morning, I got a call from a New York agent who said she was so excited by the description of my book, she wanted the full manuscript immediately. Hooray! Ecstatic, I sent it that very afternoon.

Soon after, I got her terse written reply: “Alas, the manuscript did not live up to my expectations.” Those were her exact words. I was devastated. Tears flowed. Then weeks of agonized self-doubt.

Maybe I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer. I was ready to give up.

Then, just days later, that very same query attracted legendary agent Al Zuckerman of Writers House, New York. Al has shepherded dozens of bestsellers. He, too, asked for the full manuscript. He read it – and loved it! He offered to represent me, and I eagerly signed the contract.

Within weeks, Al sold the book to Audrey LaFehr, Senior Editor at Penguin USA. Audrey said it was the best historical novel she had ever read.

Head-spinning, right? From “alas” to “the best.” Same book. Go figure.

So, I assure you that although the journey to write your book and see it published can hit you with heartbreaking moments, it can also bring joyful surprises.

Just keep in mind that your writing will not appeal to everyone, whether agents, publishers, or readers. It’s the same even for bestselling authors: millions love Stephen King’s books; for countless others, his style is not their cup of tea.

By the way, that first book of mine sold 75,000 copies and led to six more books in my Thornleigh Saga series. My book sales have now topped over half a million copies.

So, persevere, my friend. The rewards are so worth the effort!

All my best,
Barbara Kyle

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