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What "Should" You Do That You're NOT Doing?

A friend recently read a section of my memoir in progress where I wrote about my search for a literary agent for my first novel, FINGERPRINTS.


"I had no idea it was so hard to get published," she said. "Well, why would you know? You're not a writer," I said. That got me thinking that I should probably write about it.


Writing books is not the hard part. Getting published is the hard part. The most common stat I see is that only 1% of books written get published by a traditional publisher. And you can't just email Harper Collins and say, "Hey! Check out my book." You have to get a literary agent first and getting a literary agent is hard.


I pitched FINGERPRINTS to agents for a year before I went to a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in New York in hopes of getting an agent's attention. If I hadn't had the money to pay for the conference, airfare, and hotel or the ability to take time off work, I never would have met the agent who represented FINGERPRINTS.


Once I got the agent, she spent two years pitching traditional publishing houses. FINGERPRINTS got 26 rejections from traditional publishers. So, I put it aside and started writing CHOOSING TALLY.


Years later, I decided to independently publish them and to my surprise, people started buying them and continue to do so every month. (THANK YOU!) Now that I'm writing a memoir, I want to find a new agent and experience traditional publishing. I keep seeing tweets from agents that read, "I want to see memoirs from writers with large followings."


So, in addition to writing a fantastic book, they want me to have 100,000 followers? AWESOME.


I let that get in my head. I let a fear of not having a Kardashian-sized social media following make me do something I "should" do but didn't want to.

I decided to resurrect The Question of the Day, a blog I created in 2008 where I asked a question every day for 1,000 days straight. At the time, it was fun and playful. Now, it seemed like the perfect way to build a following on medium.


Medium not only has 85 to 100 million members, but once a following is established, writers get paid on medium. So, building a following there could satisfy agents and my bank account.


So, I posted a question on medium and then posted the link on Facebook. Facebook friends replied that people who weren't medium members couldn't respond on medium, so I decided to post the questions here too.


And the next day, I woke up mad at myself. This blog on my website is about my digital nomad travel journey, my journey healing chronic Lyme disease, writing, and a whole lot of things, but it's not about asking a question every day because I should have a large following in order to attract an agent.


I begrudgingly wrote a question a day for a few days. I felt trapped since I'd started and not finishing seemed lame but then I thought, "Who cares? If you don't want to do it, don't do it."

So, I'm not doing it. What "should" you do that you're not doing?


Rainbow across a grey sky with mountains and a giant tree branch.
Rainbow I spotted on one of the days I was writing questions I didn't want to write.

4 Comments


Alex Valley
Alex Valley
Feb 02, 2023

Oh hi! So this is the exact blog topic I came looking for. You are SOOOOO much further ahead than me (not that I am comparing...er but I am comparing! ha). Three books! Three books out in the world! Your words are changing readers. Your words are being consumed! Your words are being purchased! They are valued. All of that is so damn cool! So, yeah, I came here after reading your website's 'About Me' section. I wanted to know how you were going with your Literary Agent / Trad Publisher journey. I guess now I know, and it's really great learning for me - as I shove my overly enthusiastic inner-child back in her one-metre by one-metre soundproof box …

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Suzanne Casamento
Suzanne Casamento
Feb 03, 2023
Replying to

YESSSS! Right now, a writer is popping champagne to celebrate their book deal. I get it, it can feel hopeless, but the thing is, you're going to write the book anyway - you can't NOT write the book. It's who you are. So, just write it, enjoy the process and take it step by step from there. You've got this! ❤️

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heidi.green
heidi.green
Jan 30, 2023

Well, Suzanne, I seem to always be "should-ing" on myself. I should go to be earlier because I'm more productive in the morning. I shouldn't eat so much chocolate. I should exercise more. I should read a book instead of playing games on my phone. I should make more time for my art. I should not binge-watch six episodes in one night of this show I'm loving. If I'm going to binge watch, I should get out my knitting that's getting dusty in the corner and knit scarves for people who are currently houseless. I have to ask, is this you saying you won't be pursuing this question a day venture? That you might ask questions once in a while if…

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Suzanne Casamento
Suzanne Casamento
Jan 30, 2023
Replying to

OMG. I love you. Thank you. Your words mean so much. Yes, this means I will share questions when they come up and post about life as usual. As for you, forget the should's. Eat the chocolate. Watch the show. Do whatever feels right whenever it feels right. 💕

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