Welcome to the Table: Battling the Author Imposter Complex

Conference attendees watched from their seats as literary agents paraded across a stage and sat at a table. A hush fell over the ballroom, anticipating the MC’s first question. And in that silence, I squirmed, pressed my fingernails into my palms, and gazed from the stage at the audience. My nameplate’s credentials welcomed me to the table. I matched the other literary agents in dress and experience, yet I struggled to answer a single question:

Do I belong here?

The Imposter Complex prevents us from accepting our place at the table. Regardless of our expertise, we wonder if we’re ruses, fakes, actors and actresses pretending to fit into someone else’s roles. Fellow writers and literary agents, we wear the AUTHOR and AGENT titles like badges, then doubt their value when surrounded with people we view as more accomplished and deserving of the statuses.

I realized three truths while participating in the conference’s agent panel.

1.     I was invited into the room. I didn’t need to prove myself because other people already handed me the authority and platform I required to speak.

2.     My value matches their value. I am no more or less important than my fellow literary agents and authors.

3.     I decide whether I’m an imposter.

Takeaway: We must battle the Imposter Complex and embrace the value, authority, and truth of our AUTHOR and AGENT titles . . .

Welcome to the table.

You belong here.

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