Park Your Ego at the Door

I see this too many times in my job as an editor in chief. Authors believe they’ve brought you the next Harry Potter, Divergent, or Hunger Games. They’re arrogant, demanding special attention for their book, because it will be so great. And their ego gets the best of them, in the demands they make to the way they speak to a person in an email.

I’m here to tell you to park your ego at the door and approach a publisher humbly.

I can hear the comments now. “Why should I do that?” “Publisher XYZ is lucky I even considered them.” “The Big 5 will be knocking on my door soon. Why do I have to be nice to you?”

Well, first of all, let’s go with the last comment before all the others. If the Big 5 were about to sign you to a multi-million dollar contract, you wouldn’t be submitting to a small publisher without an agent. In fact, we would have never seen your book. It would be in serious negotiations for an advance and other considerations. So, that excuse doesn’t fly with me at all.

Now, why should you park your ego at the door? Well, it’s a little thing called being humble. You are asking a publisher to take a chance on an unknown quantity. They don’t know you, don’t know if you’re willing to do the bulk of promotion work, and sure don’t know how well you work and play with others. All they have to go by when evaluating your work is the cover letter you’ve put on your submission and your novel. That’s it. With that small amount of information, an editor in chief is expected to decide if you’re worth the investment. That means leaving your ego out of your submission goes a long way to acceptance.

Is a publisher lucky you submitted to them? That depends not only on the content of your book but also on your attitude. If you expect a publisher to have a full promotion team ready to make your book, and only your book, the next best seller, you are not going to find that with a small publisher. If you are looking for cover art that is done to your exact specifications, which might include a photo shoot of a top model, or one designed from scratch, you are going to the wrong place.

Once your ego is parked, you will soon discover that becoming the next big author today requires a lot of work. First, you will have to brand your name, become known on social media as an author of good books. Second, you will have to be willing to concede that small publishers aren’t the Big 5, but they are the best place to get your start. Finally, you will have to understand that the staff at a small publisher aren’t there for your personal use.

We are there to make your book the best possible book it can be and help you find ways to promote it.


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