SEPTEMBER OWLS | Fear of a different blank page

In Guest Articles, OWLS by RWA Blog Coordinator1 Comment

Taking the plunge: your book submission pack with Janet Gover

As writers, fear of the blank page is something we all understand. But the blank page I fear is not the one that says Chapter XX at the top.

It’s the page that has the word Synopsis at the top.

And the one that starts, Dear (agent or editor)…

For me, the hardest part of being a writer is not coming up with ideas. My head is swimming with those. The hard part is letting go and sending my book out into the world to be read by someone else. What if they don’t like this book that I have sweated over for months? I’m sure it’s a fear we all share, and it never really goes away.

I have an agent, and I have a wonderful editor at Harlequin Australia. But that doesn’t mean submitting a new book now is really any different to when I pitched my very first book to my very first editor. It’s still scary. They might say No this time.

My upcoming OWL gives lots of practical; advice about how to prepare your actual submission pack… but here’s a few thoughts on how to prepare emotionally.

I ask myself if I have written the best book I possibly can. The answer should be yes.

I ask myself if this synopsis gives a good idea of what the book is about. It won’t be perfect. No synopsis ever is. But again, hopefully, I can say yes.

I make sure the accompanying letter is professional. A business letter, because that’s what it is.

Then I remind myself that a book that never leaves my desk will definitely never be published, and I hit that magic button.

Of course, 30 seconds after hitting send, I remember that I meant to fix this scene… and change that bit of description… and give that character a bit more oomph.

But that’s fine. Really it is.

The job of an agent or editor is to find authors who write good books and get those books published. They WANT to find the next shining new talent. And they have done this once or twice before. They can see past the nerves. The can see the diamond in the rough. They won’t be put off by simple mistakes, especially when made by newcomers.

So – the best advice I have – make your work the very best it can be, find the most appropriate person to send it to, and get it out there. Then, as soon as it’s gone, start writing something new. It will distract you while you wait for a reply. It will give you something new to love, just in case the answer is no. And, best of all, when THE CALL comes, and your new agent or editor asks what’s next – you will be able to tell them what book two will be.

Good Luck everyone. 

Course Dates: 7 Sept to 2 Oct 2020

Cost: RWA Member – $55.00. Non-RWA Member: $88.00.

Venue: Online – RWA Moodle Platform Booking Link:

About Janet Gover

Author Janet Gover

I grew up surrounded by books. Both my parents loved to read and they shared that love with me. In the tiny Australian bush town where we lived, there wasn’t a lot to do except read and ride my ponies.

As it’s pretty hard to make a living out of riding ponies, I guess I was always going to be a writer.

After some fun-filled years at Queensland University (during which I passed the occasional exam), I became a television journalist, first in Australia, then in Asia and Europe. I got to see and do a lot of unusual things. I met some interesting people, including one Pope, at least three Prime Ministers, a few movie stars and a dolphin.

I also discovered that most interesting people are often the ‘ordinary’ people – who sometimes have quite extraordinary stories to tell.

My first published fiction, a short story called The Last Dragon, appeared in 2002. I love writing short stories and you can check some of them out for free on the site.

My first novel, written when I was about 11 years old, involved a young girl (me) being rescued from kidnappers by two handsome men – one of whom was former James Bond Roger Moore.

My first published novel, The Farmer Needs A Wife was released in 2009. It might not surprise you to learn that it was set in Australia and featured men on horses.

Australia, horses and men still feature in my writing – although I have written one book without horses in it. There were penguins instead.

I enjoying running workshops and teaching. Twice a year I lead writing retreats with fellow writer Alison May. You can check out those retreats on my page for writers.

Alison and I also write together under the name Juliet Bell. Our first joint novel, The Heights, is a modern adaptation of the classic story by Emily Brontë. It’s set in Yorkshire, against the backdrop of the miners’ strike and the decline of a once proud pit community. There will be more Juliet Bell books to come.

I travel a lot – and many years ago in Hong Kong, I met an Englishman with green eyes – which explains why I now live in London. My travels inspire me – but it seems that when I write, I often come back to the place I grew up.

Some things you never leave behind.





  1. I’m definitely one of those people who just needs to take the leap. I’ve had beta readers and I’m implementing their suggestions at a snail’s pace. It’s better just to send it out and get it over with – am I right?

    All the best from South Africa, Michelle (

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