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  • Writer's pictureIan Brooks

It’s Me, Hi, I’m The Problem, It’s Me

A woman's face showing the duality of the split self

At times, trying to get a publishing deal can seem like an impossible task. While there are direct routes to certain publishers, if you’re like me your first port of call lies with agents.

There are rules for submissions, strict guidelines one has to follow, structures that must be adhered to. And then, after countless hours of writing your book, preparing your submission and sending your work out there into the big, bad world, you get a traditional “I’m sorry but this is not right for us at the moment. Best of luck with other agents.” That’s if you’re lucky. Some agents don’t even respond. Once I received a rejection less than an hour after submitting. Hopes and dreams built upon months and months of hard graft and toil disintegrated in under sixty minutes.

How dare they! It conjures up images of malevolent tyrants laughing manically while sitting on a throne of literary skulls as they gleefully toss manuscript after manuscript onto the submission scrap heap. These people are evil! They have no regard for the hardship I went through crafting my masterpiece. They are rude and arrogant and need a reality check.

This isn’t true of course. Publishing is an industry. Sure it has rules, but so does every industry. And agents aren’t bad people. They’re just people. In fact, I wager that if I was ever meet one, I would consider them to be very nice people. Even if the act of writing is slow, the industry is fast-paced. There are far too many writers and submissions out there for agents to give everyone the time of day. But instead of foisting the blame on agents, one has to look at the real problem.


If I haven’t gotten a publishing deal, there can only be one issue. I haven’t done enough. Sure, there are cycles and fads that can result in certain genres and types of books coming into vogue. Maybe my book just hit a rough timing. And yes, there are stories out there about agents and publishers rejecting bestsellers. Everyone loves to bandy around the Harry Potter example.

These are distractions. Simple things we say to make ourselves feel better. But they won’t actually help us. They won’t make us grow or improve. If, after fourteen years, I haven’t managed to grasp that brass ring or break that glass ceiling, then obviously I am lacking in something.

Maybe it’s my writing. Or the start to my book. Or my plot. Or the submission letter. Or what about the synopsis? Or is it my social media following? Or could it be my lack of a writer profile? What if it’s everything combined?

It's not a comfortable thing, realising oneself is the problem. But it’s a positive step. Once you acknowledge the issues, you can address them. And by addressing them, you can develop as a writer and a person. Consider this website and all its bits and pieces as one of the ways I am trying to develop.

The first step to solving a problem is recognising its existence. For too long I have ignored the issue. For too long I have tricked myself by providing excuses. No longer.

From today forth, I am no longer the problem. I am the solution.

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