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Lacking Self-Confidence To Market Your Writing? Do It Anyway

magic wand for writer's confidenceI got this question a few days ago. I’ve changed the initials of the sender; I think you’ll see why.

Hi  Anne,

I have a writing question you can help with… and I bet I am not the only one out there.

My biggest dilemma is I don’t know what to write about?  How do I pick subject matter that people will pay to read?  Is it basic SEO, which I know very little about?  I understand I want to pick subject matter that is of interest to me or I will not be a happy camper and subjects where I have some knowledge but how do I determine a good fit that I can monetize?

There has to be a method to this madness!

Thanks for your input.  If this is too stupid of a question then just help me off-line. 🙂


Hi KF,

I really wish I could breathe self-worth and self-confidence into you from here. Or maybe a magic wand. Or maybe just shake you until your teeth rattle.

Look, the magazine and book publishers need writers. That’s why they go to considerable trouble to list their needs in Writer’s Markets and other places like their websites. And they aren’t hiding.

For example, suppose I wanted to write an article about training dogs. A quick search for magazines about dogs brings up something like 57 million results. Okay, obviously there aren’t that many magazines about dogs, but on the first page I can spot four plus a list of the top 10 magazines about dogs.

A quick and dirty search on the word dogs in my digital edition of Writer’s Market reveals 4 pages of publishers – some magazines, some books, some newspapers, etc.

If I can’t dig out at least one paying market that would be apt to buy a piece on dog training I’ll eat my hat. Really.

Sure, I don’t write about dog training. In fact I don’t know much about dog training except I wish the neighbors would train their dogs not to bark,

Your question demonstrates you can write decently so what’s preventing you from sending off either queries or articles or a book proposal or two in your areas of expertise?

The only reason I can think of is you seriously doubt yourself. Stop it. Or submit in spite of it, or turn your fear into an article for a writing magazine.

I’ve told this story before. My first queries were to two major consumer magazines, Woman’s Day  and Family Circle. I was so scared I had to drive to the next town to put them in the mailbox. But I did it. They were rejected, which only meant that I’d broken through my fear and submitted. No one took out a page in the Wall Street Journal laughing at me. In fact no one noticed at all, even when I put the rejection slips on the wall and kept working at it.

There really are only three secrets to successful writing – write, rewrite and market. That’s it. Period. Without each one you’re only fooling yourself about wanting to be a writer.

Whew. I guess I had a lot on my mind! Thanks for asking.

Got a question about freelance writing? Contact me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll do my best to get it answered.


Image from http://www.sxc.hu


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Martha Taylor

    I just stumbled upon this Website. It is most inspiring, especially the encouragement about overcoming self-doubt. I am 62 years old and what I know for sure is that I was born to write. However, there have been so many personal trials and tribulations to overcome until my confidence, strength and energy has been greatly challenged. I do feel that I have a lot to say, but don’t know where to begin. I don’t have a Website but thanks for taking the time to read my comments.

  • This couldn’t be more true, Anne. I can’t believe anyone who started out writing has never had that self-doubt. Even if they didn’t recognize it as self-doubt. It can be crippling at times. But in the motivational words from Nike: “Just Do It”!
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