Trouble Hitting Send?

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

A writer emailed me:

The novel is finished, the query letter is drafted, the synopsis is as tight as I can get it, and I still can’t bring myself to hit that darned “send” button. I’m sure you see the work of many writers who query too eagerly and make bone-head mistakes… I’m trying to avoid making one of those blunders right now.

I have a feeling a lot of writers can relate to this. There’s always a nervousness that comes with putting yourself out there, especially if you’ve been preparing for a long time.

What holds us back? It’s partly our fear of failure. As soon as we put it out there, we become open to rejection. What if we did it wrong? What if it’s not good enough? What if someone says it’s horrible? Can I handle that?

I even feel that way about the blog sometimes. What if my post is awful? What if nobody comments? Hitting “publish” is a risk every time.

We know all the answers to this, don’t we?

We only fail when we fail to try.

We miss every shot we don’t take.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

But I have a feeling you’re not looking for inspirational quotes here. Let’s talk about why you might be paralyzed when it comes time to send out that query (or proposal, or manuscript…). There are all the obvious reasons (fear of rejection, etc.) but I think there’s another factor. If you’re reading blogs and attending conferences, learning about the industry so that you can get published, you’re probably seeing a lot of “do this in your query” and “don’t do that in your query.” You’re being given so many different pieces of advice, and hearing so many agents say they’ll immediately reject you for making the smallest mistake… honestly, I think it’s enough to paralyze just about anyone.

We are telling you the bar is high and encouraging you to bring your very best work. Sometimes we tell you about how competitive it is out there, because we’re trying to give you a dose of reality.

But sometimes you have to shut your ears to all of that. You can’t take every iota of advice from every agent out there. You can’t run away scared every time someone says “This business is hard.” So all you can do is ask yourself: Is my manuscript (or proposal) ready to go? Have I done some homework so that I know which agents to query? Have I taken my time crafting the best query letter I can?

If so, then go for it. Hit “send.”

Don’t wait for perfection. You want your work to be as strong as possible, yet you can’t just wait forever, always saying, “I can do better.” At some point, you’ve got to listen to your gut when it tells you, “This thing’s good to go.”

You are definitely opening yourself up to rejection, but you could be opening yourself up to your future, too. You’ll never know unless you hit send.

Can you relate to the difficulty of hitting “send”?



Ever have trouble hitting Send with your query or proposal? Click to Tweet.

Hitting “Send” with your query opens you up to rejection. Are you up for it? Click to Tweet.

Don’t wait for perfection before hitting Send. Click to Tweet.


37 Responses

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  1. Your post is so powerful today, Rachelle. I know of at least one finger that it has prompted to finally click “Send”!

  2. When I’m reluctant to hit ‘send’, it’s usually because my inner voice is telling me that something is not yet where I want it to be, and that prudence dictates another look-see.

    I’m not a perfectionist, by any means – to me, perfection is the enemy of good enough, and good enough generally carries the day. Thus, when I have a feeling something’s wrong – it’s wrong.

    There’s another reason to hesitate, and it may be somewhat peculiar to me. I live in a rural area, and the broadband signal can drop to nothing without obvious warning. If I hit ‘send’ on Gmail when this is happening, the text will be lost; so will it be on certain blog platforms. The hesitation is a good indication that I need to do a “highlight-ctrlC” to copy what I’ve just written, because I’ve picked up a “twitch” that the signal may be gone.

  3. I can certainly relate…I often feel nervous hitting the send button!

  4. I’ve had times of being nervous about hitting the Send button. Usually, it’s fear keeping me from pressing that button.

    It’s easy to get caught up in what all the agents say needs to happen before I press that button. It seems like the best thing to do is to make sure I know what the agents I’m sending to want to see (formatted correctly), prepare my best work, pray and press.

    Your post is a great exhortation to just do it… the right time of course. 🙂

  5. The perfectionist in me quivers at the thought of the SEND button. 🙂 But if I’d never hit send, I wouldn’t have an awesome agent helping me make my work as good as can be. You’re right — sometimes, you just have to take that leap of faith.

    Besides, I’ve heard many stories of how forgiving agents actually are. Sure, some will remember your name forever if you sent too early, but I think most agents in the inspirational field are kind and truly want to see writers succeed. They know that writers grow and change. Of course, they’ll remember some psycho that chased them to the bathroom in order to pitch at a conference — there’s only so much they can “forget.” LOL.

  6. Jim Lupis says:

    I have the opposite problem, Rachelle. My right hand runs to hit the click button too early, so my left hand has to wrestle him down until the urge passes.

    Not a pretty sight.

    But I’m learning and growing.

    • Wendy McLeod MacKnight says:

      Jim – I sadly resemble that remark. I wish I had stopped myself from hitting send 8 times last year. The sends I have sent this year are such better sends. I guess that is experience and you are right about that voice, Andrew!

  7. Current WIP … I’m biting nails over the idea of hitting “send” to a crit partner. I know it’s not ready for an agent. But it’s coming along. 🙂

    I hear when I’m finished editing, sooner the better, we are going to professionally bind it for our girls. Washing hands of it! But with an underhanded grin, plagued with potential, I’m hoping to hit “send” one day!

  8. Linda says:

    Oh yes – I can definitely relate. Your posts are always so helpful and encouraging Rachelle. I’ve felt every one of those things. Working with a writing coach has helped me so much. We’re going to make this little book the best it can be. Then I’m going to hit “send.”

  9. I think the fear of success is just as real as the fear of failure, though perhaps less recognized and admitted. I’ve written about it before. What if I hit send, the gatekeepers love it, it becomes a bestseller, and my writing career takes off? How will that change my life? My relationships? How will I cope.

    If rejection and failure come, life doesn’t change. We just keep plugging away and can say we tried and be praised for trying. Failure doesn’t bring change; success does. And change is a fearful thing. I think my inability to give my writing proper focus is in part fear of success.

  10. Southpaw says:

    Oh yes. That send button. It’s like our world is brought to the brink and the send will destroy it or bring world peace. – OK, overly dramatic but still…

  11. Terri Wangard says:

    I’ve submitted to agents and editors, and have gotten back “Not interested” or no reply at all. Now I struggle with, Why bother?
    At this year’s ACFW conference, I’ll try for as many extra appointments as I can get. With that, and using all the tips I’ve picked up from your blog this year, I’m hoping someone will want a deeper look.

  12. Sarah Grimm says:

    I can certainly relate. Such a well-timed post.

    This month I’ve heard–from a number of different angles–to not let the demon of perfection stall my progress.

    You’re right. The story doesn’t have to be perfect. There’s no such thing, and I will wait on perfection forever. I just have to do my best.

    And, honestly, a story that you’ve written with your heart exposed and vulnerable might be the scariest to “send”, but they’re the best kind to read.

    Don’t hold back.

  13. This is definitely something I can relate to well. As long as my manuscript sits here, no one can tell me it’s not the right fit, not what we’re looking for, or anything else.

    The only way I can silence the fear in me is to send each chapter of my WIP to my critique group once or twice, send along my query to them once, and then make three rounds of edits. After that, it is what it is and I must let it go.

  14. Thank you, Rachelle, for helping me to see that I am not alone in my fear of the send button. My pulse races just posting comments on agent blogs. I will definitely take Jeanne’s approach of ‘prepare, pray, & press’ when I finish my current round of editing.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  15. Jane Driskell says:

    Very appropriate today! 15 minutes before I opened the blog, I had hit “send” to my self-publisher after 15 years writing my memoir! Don’t believe I really did it! Thanks for the validation that others have the same issues!

  16. For my day job, I develop Christian curriculum that we market to homeschoolers and private Christian schools. When a study guide is completed, we send it in the field for testing. Those testers are also looking for clarity, typos, etc. When we get it back, we make the suggested changes, then send it to a professional proof reader. Those changes are made and another proofing is done before we publish it. You’d think the pages would be error free. But in the 50+ study guides I’ve written, no matter how careful I’ve been, something pops up that I have to change, after its published–or for this purpose–after the “send” button is pushed. I strive for perfection, but would be paralyzed if I waited for it.

  17. Rachelle, it’s a balancing act on the order of “darned” if you do and “doggoned” if you don’t. As I learned early on, the inclination of the novice, struggling to get that first contract, is to hit “send” before the work is finished. But sometimes it works in the opposite direction, and I’ve known authors who spend three years or more polishing a novel (when they probably should send it, take their rejections, and start another).
    How does one strike a happy medium? I have no idea. But thanks for reminding us that there is one.

  18. Jamie says:

    As an unpublished author who has only recently finished my first novel, I can totally relate. People ask if I’ve sent it out yet, and my reply is, “No. I need to do more revisions/editing.” But ultimately, the fear comes from exactly what you hit on: It’s a tough world out there. I read books by authors that I admire for so many reasons, and I think, “I’ll never be that good.” (I believe you posted about that a few weeks ago.) I feel like I can’t measure up to the standard I hold other authors to in my reading, and it is immobilizing. Thanks for this post. It has had a motivating effect on this writer.

  19. I like Ice Cream.(Cherry Vanilla)

    That’s why I renamed my SEND button: Ice Cream.

  20. Hannah says:

    Thanks for this. I’m working through a second draft of my novel, studying craft books, combing helpful writing how-to blogs, etc. I come away paralyzed, sometimes, because it all seems overwhelming, especially the social media aspect of today’s writing world. Yet I know that I can do it. This post reminded me that I have to put forth my best effort and then let it go. There’s no amount of effort that will allow me to control the ultimate outcome of pressing ‘send’. Sometimes I think that it’s that feeling of being out of control that is the most uncomfortable for me. But learning to deal with it is a sign of growth!

  21. This blog is so timely for me. I’m a month away from pitching my ideas at a writer’s conference and I’m working so hard right now. I completely rushed the process last year after two publishers expressed interest in my fiction manuscript. I was actually pitching a pretty lame non-fiction idea. I felt like I had to send my novel and follow through because of the expressed interest. But, I wasn’t ready…at all.

    I learned so much from that entire process and figured out what I really wanted to write. Last year wasn’t a failure; it was the sweetest gift of discovery. Each seasoned editor/publisher gave me the gift of believing in me enough to push me towards greatness. Because of that I am at a completely different level of being ready to pitch my ideas with clarity. I’m positive that I’ll freak out again. I’m already emotional eating as I type this comment and work on my proposal; but still I’m going for it.

    Thanks for this post, I needed it.

  22. I taught a Continuing Ed series called FINISH THE BOOK: Reaching THE END and Pressing SEND, and yet I still have trouble with this!

  23. Shauna says:

    I recently attended a writers conference and felt so paralyzed by all I’ve read about agents, appointments, professionalism, and “the-things-I-should-never-do” that I didn’t make any appointments with agents. Only published authors. HOWEVER, after attending the conference I understand, at least in part, the reasons for the detailed advice offered here. I handed out the Books & Such web address like it was a gospel tract!

  24. Roger Floyd says:

    Absolutely not. I have no fear of hitting the send button. It’s not that I’m not afraid of rejection. I’ve been rejected so many times now it doesn’t bother me that much. Certainly not enough to prevent me from sending it out again and again. My real problem is I can’t get anyone to take a good look at my novels. All I get are form letter rejections, like “It’s not for me,” or “I don’t think I could represent this novel,” or words to that extent. My novels (I have two sci-fi) aren’t that bad, I’m sure. Anybody interested?

  25. Elaine Manders says:

    Yes, I have major problems hitting “send”. I’m a perfectionist, but I’ve finally sent out a proposal and entered a couple of contests. Just hope it gets easier with time.

  26. Yes, I agree with all that’s been said. I’m going through that process at the moment as I revise my query. I have put a deadline on when I want it finished. That gives me the time to write it just the way I want and hopefully interest an agent. Not easy finding the right moment. I think I tend to over-edit.

  27. Andrea D says:

    Yes, I can absolutely relate. Part of it is that I’m a perfectionist at my core, but you’ve also nailed the other part…after attending so many classes and reading so many blog posts, as well as knowing there are so many different standards of expectation out there, I sometimes find myself paralyzed, afraid the one small mistake I make will be what sends my manuscript straight to the circular file. Thanks so much for the encouragement today!

  28. Leah Everson says:

    This is exactly what I struggle with – and I’m just starting my book. I suddenly became so overwhelmed with the whole publication process I am discouraged to even try. But it’s not about perfection, it’s about obedience to God’s calling me to do it. Whether it’s published or not, perfect or not, I just need to do it.

    Thank you.

  29. Sondra Kraak says:

    Thanks, Rachelle.

  30. Yes, I did then I sent it and to my horror I never received a reply so now I’m even more paranoid. Then I remind myself that it’s in God’s hands and I’m not afraid anymore.

  31. brendakoinis says:

    Today was a “push send day” for me. Thanks for the help!

  32. Don King says:

    How many of us have been in the middle of a great novel(reading) only to find a glaring error? To think that book made it past an agent and possibly several editors and STILL got printed imperfectly.Each time before I hit the send button I just say a prayer and know that if the world needs to read my story, it will happen. I handle what I can control, making it the best it can be, and then let the experts make the call. I think it is safe to say that nearly every book on the shelf was changed and edited to the max before it ever got published. Established writers definitely included…Thanks for an important post.

  33. Renee-Ann says:

    Talk about hitting the nail on the head. A fellow-writer and I discussed the very same thing this morning, mostly my fear of pitching to an agent at the upcoming writers conference. Then I stumbled upon this! Wow!

    Thank you!

  34. Laura says:

    I recently told my sister that I am shoving my type-A anal retentive side in the closet for the time being. Why? Otherwise, my work will never evereverever be perfect enough to send out. I need to listen to the little voice that has said, “You know, it’s done. It’s good. You’ve had people read it, edit it and it’s done. Go forth and query!”

    You know what, though? It feels really GOOD to hit “send”!