Do You Have Imposter Syndrome?

Writers Do You Have Imposter Syndrome This week I'm celebrating the sale of a client's project to a dream publisher—a project I first saw (and loved) two years ago. I knew the moment I read the manuscript that it was something special. I resonated with the author's story and her writing, and I felt very strongly that many others would too. Eventually.

My instinct was that it wasn't the right timing to put it out to publishers. I suggested she take some time to polish the manuscript, while also working on her blog and building her platform. I told her the market wasn't ready for it, and I didn't want to show it to publishers at the wrong time. I promised I'd be watching for the right time and the right editors to send it to. She handled all of this like a professional. She improved her manuscript. She continued blogging—and being patient.

Meanwhile, I was second guessing myself. It's risky to ask a client to be patient, to trust me to find the right timing to give their project the best chance for success. Do I really know what I'm doing? What if I'm wrong? What if this long wait doesn't pay off for my client?

I get mired in Impostor Syndrome occasionally. In fact, I think many people do - writers included.

Impostor Syndrome is when you have those moments of thinking: I can't do this! People think I can do this, but I've got them all fooled! I'm a fraud! A poser! A fake! I'm not REALLY an agent/novelist/physician/teacher/take your pick. They are going be on to me soon!

But then ... we have those moments when we're reminded that we do, in fact, sort of know what we're doing. I had that moment yesterday when the editor I'd hand-picked for my client's book called me with an offer. I'd been patient, watched the market, determined the timing was right—and it paid off. I had to take a moment to acknowledge that I do know just a teensy bit about what I'm doing. Maybe I'm not an impostor after all.

I think it's important to be aware of the insecurity that makes us sometimes feel like a fraud; and to remind ourselves that we do have talents, skills, and abilities. The most helpful thing I've done to keep my confidence strong is a simple sticky note on my computer:

Sticky note

"This is what I do." Every day when I sit down to work, that sentence reminds me that I know what I'm doing; that I don't need to waste energy thinking it's too hard or I can't do it; that I've put years into learning this job; that I can simply start the day with confidence, do my job, and always be open to learning how to do it better.


I (Dani) am giving away a copy of one of my books (your choice!). Simply answer the question below in the comments for your chance to win and be sure to tell me which book you would like to win!

What about you? Do you ever feel like an impostor? What makes you feel that way? What reminds you of the truth about yourself?


Rachelle GardnerRachelle Gardner is a literary agent with Books and Such Literary Agency. She is an experienced editor, writing/publishing coach, and speaker. She has been working in publishing since 1995.

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