Posted by: Natalie | October 11, 2010

The Big Sell

You might think that composing the actual book should be the hardest step in writing one. I admit, I have found it difficult but so much fun. The editing I have struggled with due to both time and a heavy dose of frustration. The start of my book just doesn’t flow in the way I want and I am beyond being able to see the answer – but I am hoping this recent enforced break and a renewed spirit might help a little. It does feel foreign to me now though – I have read the lines so often that all sense and meaning has evaporated. But I am refusing to dwell on this, in time it will fit together as I want.

As much as this has been a hurdle I am still investigating, I still don’t think it will be the hardest part of getting published. Neither will writing a synopsis – I believe in my story (and my ability to tell them) so I don’t think I will find it too much of a chore.

No, the worrisome part is the ‘big sell’. The letter. The part where I explain just why I should be considered as an author.

People are generally critical of themselves and find it difficult to pin point those intriguing pieces of magic that make themselves unique and ’employable’. Having said this, I never find difficulty in selling myself as a teacher – I know what I am good at and how hard I have worked, and inevitably it pays off. But selling myself as a writer? With no previous experience?! Ermmmmm . . . . starting point please?!

Not only am I having difficulty trying to voice what I think I believe about myself, I am having issues with structure. After all, give me enough space and characters I am sure I can put my point across eventually. But to stand out from the crowd, be entertaining, engaging, informative and concise is something I have never practised before – certainly not in my writing life. I am pretty much at a loss.

I know, the best thing to do is not micro-analyse, to relax, be myself and just write. But when I am an over-analytical, self criticising, insecure ‘creative’ I can’t help but worry the words will come across wrong. I can’t help but worry that the words will entirely fail me when it means the most. But I have to let this go, I have to.

So what to mention in my letter? My blog? My current employment? How much relevance does my teaching career actually have, realistically? Do I just sell the book and hope that my personality will shine through? There has to be an air of formality to the writing, but do I let this slide a little in order to show ‘the real me’? Do I post tea and biscuits along with the submission?! Obviously not, but I am sure editing offices would be appreciative. I know I would.

As you can see, I am struggling a little here. I need a hook. I need just one positive aspect of me, one true skill to shine through long enough to allow me to write about it. But I’m not finding one at the moment. I know I am determined and fun loving and resourceful and creative and bubbly and I like cooking and reading and knitting; but none of these things are really worth mentioning – every other member of the slush pile will be all these things, and some of them more.

So what makes me different? What makes me stand out? Right now, I’m really not sure. But when I find out, you’ll be the first to know.



  1. Hi Your comments are very thought-provoking, and I’ve experienced (and still experience) all that you describe.

    As a part of your search about how to proceed, I invite you to visit the launch posting of my blog which was published on November 4, 2009. I had just experienced something of an epiphany, and the blog was launched to share the journey with other writers. The road has been long since then, but I thought you might find the November 4, 2009 post of interest.

    Hopefully, I’ll hear from you, and I’ll look forward to our conversation. All the best. –Cheri

    • Oh thank you so much for reading and offering your pearls of wisdom. I am definitely adding your site to a MUST-READ-ASAP list. Just putting the last tweeks to a few pages and then I think I will be ready to sell myself (starting to sound a little cheap and nasty with that description!) I will certainly look through your blog and no doubt be picking your brains for advice before the end of the week!

      Thanks again,

      Natalie x

  2. I know one reason why you ARE a writer… you connect to people on the same level, NO you’re not an ‘average’ writer who speaks the common phrases, lingo… Jive! You speak purely, honestly, funnily (new word) and your writing makes a point!
    Who’s up for reason #2….

    • Once again, bless you! I feel like you are my one woman cheer group, tell me, do you have a set of pompoms by your side when you write to me?!

      Thanks again . . . I think I might now be READY! OK! (that’s about all I know about cheer leading!)


  3. Have you ever visited Query Shark? I love her blog! Not just because I find her funny when she’s tearing query letters apart, but also becasue I think she makes a lot of sense. Most of the time. 🙂

    One point that she often returns to is the fact that you’re not selling yourself. You’re selling your work. Your book. Your past experience doesn’t matter. It’s what you produce that matters…

    Does that help?

    • That’s fantastic! Thank you so much for the advice and the blog recommendation, I shall begin reading in earnest!

      Thanks again,

      Nat x

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