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I am Afraid.

Benjamin Stein

Six years ago, in 2012, I chose to self-publish my first novel. I self-published my second novel four years later, in 2016. Now, as 2018 screams to a close, I’ve decided to submit my third novel to literary agents for a taste of the “traditional” publishing experience I’ve read and heard so much about.


The question veers through territories a paid psychologist might be better-equipped to decipher. The most straightforward thought is that I fear rejection. And sure. I do. Doesn’t everyone? I don’t consider this one of my core fears, though, so it’s not a blocker. I think the true answer sits closer to the way in which I’ve always viewed writing as an escape.

I’m agoraphobic. I don’t enjoy large crowds or even socializing with more than one or two people at a time. (This makes living in NYC extra fun!) Nevertheless, I do go outside. I go to work. I have business dinners. I schmooze. All of these activities upset me, but I do them anyway. When I write, it’s like I’m doing the opposite of all those upsetting things.

Submitting my novel to literary agents is exciting, but it’s also frightening. I love the idea of publishing my latest novel, of which I’m deeply proud. I don’t love the idea of going to conferences and networking to catch the attention of an agent. I shy away from the notion that I am burdening an agent with my writing by forcing her to read my query letter… though I realize most successful agents love their jobs. Most of all, I fear a day when writing turns into work.