Look, the publishing industry is changing fast. Things are buzzy and kind of terrifying. There’s always something to compare yourself to—a stellar success that is just enough like you to make you really jealous, or a flameout that is just close enough to home to make you wince.
It might sound cliche, but the only way I know to combat this weirdness is to look for the book only I can write.
When I got close to my first book deal (spoiler alert: it didn’t happen), I really didn’t get this. I didn’t get that an editorial committee, or an editor, or a reviewer, or a librarian, or a reader would take a look at the cover of a book with my name on it and say something to the effect of “So? Why should I care?” And that’s okay. It really is. Because when I’m doing my job right, I’m writing the book only I can write, the book I was born to bring to all of you. This doesn’t mean that the book will change the world, but in order to succeed I have to bring my uniqueness and my voice and courage to the work. It might be scary, or confusing, or really hard to get down to that essence, but I kind of feel like that’s my calling as a writer.
It’s also the hardest thing in the world to go for, because in order to pursue the book that only you can write, you have to figure out what “you” means at any given moment. That’s the really tricky part.