The Confidence of the Mediocre White Man

I drink out of a mug every morning that says, “Lord give me the confidence of a mediocre white man.” It is a much-loved gift from my niece. And on my lowest days, it gives me the boost I need.

I think of this phrase quite a bit and what it really means. I think of it when I read query letters and the sometimes angry responses after a query rejection.

The authors who are most willing to clap back after a rejection are often white men. The author who will tell us in a query that they’ve written the best thing ever is usually a white man.

Now I’m not suggesting these are techniques anyone should take up. I mean, I’m really NOT suggesting that. Please don’t. What I am wondering though, is how much queries would change if we all approached them as confidently as those mediocre white men.

This isn’t something you can simply decide I realize. It takes practice, encouragement and sometimes a coffee mug to remind you daily.

Steps to Greater Confidence

If you weren’t born with the privilege of a white man, something that seems to inherently give confidence in many (I realize not all) here are some steps you can take to build it up.

  1. Remind yourself how amazing it is that you wrote a book in the first place. Something millions of us will never do or be able to do.
  2. Celebrate every query you send out and even every response you get. These are the steps to success.
  3. Quit saying you want to be something and define yourself as the thing. No longer do you want to be an author because you are an author. Stop saying you want to be the kind of person who (goes to the gym, reads more, or is patient) and start telling yourself you do go to the gym, you do read more and you are patient.

Confidence isn’t an easy thing to get. I’ve always been confident. I’ve always worked to be more confident. But the first step is telling yourself daily that you are, not that you want to be.

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4 comments

  1. OMG I totally want a mug like this! (I have honestly considered taking on a male pseudonym, after polishing my manuscript but before beginning the query process, just to find out if it really does make my queries better. But that would probably cause more problems than it would solve! 😀 )

  2. This is discriminatory, self-righteous, and bigoted. I am a white man, by no means mediocre, I have seven published books to my credit, and I am represented by an equal-rights agent. Meaning, he does not discriminate by sex, race, or level of self-confidence in his clients. You might learn a valuable lesson from him.

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