Today I signed a book deal with a publisher.
I might be the most surprised of all. I had planned to publish it myself, but I didn’t see this coming. But not for lack of trying.
Two years ago I attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference to pitch my book to publishers and agents. That conference went better than I could have imagined: I won the writing contest, publishers beamed, and the agent of a best-selling author liked my book so much he was fast-tracking my request to represent me.
Publishing was going to be easy. I went back home and waited for the good news.
But it didn’t come. The agent turned me down. The publishers turned me down. It wasn’t the tune I had heard at the conference. But it was okay. I felt like God said to keep going.
So I continued to think and pray. I continued to read books on writing by people like Stephen King, Ann Lamott, Donald Miller, Annie Dillard. And I continued to write.
Then six months later I tried again for an agent. Agents can present your book to say, 20 publishers at once. Without an agent, you’re presenting to them one at a time at conferences or through online services. And agents negotiate the contract on your behalf.
So I emailed a number of agents to introduce myself and my book. They said no. Except for one. He gave me some suggestions. I rewrote two chapters.
He emailed back with an agent agreement and Les Stobbe became my agent.
I prepared a book proposal, perfected two sample chapters, and Les sent them out to publishers. We began to hear back. They were nice about it but there was a catch:
We like your stuff, but you’re not famous.
If you were writing on another topic, we’d say yes.
It’s a good idea, but the world doesn’t need another book on prayer.
And finally there was no one else to say yes.
I thought about writing on something else. I toyed with other topics. Maybe the world didn’t need another book on prayer. But as I thought and dreamed, only one topic beat within my heart—prayer.
You know you’re in love with a topic when it seems like that singular topic is the answer to life’s ills and man’s discontent and God’s plans, and should you not write on that topic, the world would be full of less color and less song. You know you need to write on that topic. God is willing you to.
It’s here you need to dig down deep and persevere. Hebrews 10.36 says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
I wonder how many promises we don’t receive because we give up. The path is too steep, the twists unexpected, the journey too long. We give up when all along God wants us to keep going.
But we’re short sighted, weak in the knees, light hearted. We don’t like discomfort or being turned down or the unknown. So we stick to paths whose ends we can see. Then we wonder where the adventure is.
But let me tell you, I’m glad getting a book deal has taken two years.
The message has improved, I’ve gotten wiser, and I’m filled with more faith. I’m a better writer, I’m more equipped for what’s ahead, and I really love this book because I have fought for it.
Isn’t this what the world needs more of—people who will fight for what God has called them to do? Because if they don’t, who will?
And during the two years, God brought encouragers and guides to help me. Along the way, I met David Kopp, editor of the New York Times best seller Radical and contributor to the international best seller The Prayer of Jabez. David became my writing mentor.
My writing prayer team kept praying for me. Readers of my weekly email kept emailing with proof of fruit.
So I kept going.
I went back to work on the book. I reshaped it, restructured content, told different stories. I wrote a new proposal and sent it to Les, and Les sent it out. The response was the same:
No one knows your name.
When no one knows your name, they’ll pick a book by someone they know, not you.
They won’t pick up your book, especially because it’s on prayer.
It was the same old. And eventually there was no one left to say yes.
But God said to keep going.
Really God, are you serious? They said no one knows my name. They said I should write on something else. They all said no.
I emailed my prayer team about these rejections. Our spiritual daughter Simone Alex replied: “I’m to encourage you that what you are viewing as rejection is really the Lord’s “ACCEPTION,” because His expectations of what He has for you regarding your BOOKS is WAY HIGHER than you can ever ask or think.”
From there, God spoke to me further. All the publishers had said no, but God was saying yes. He said He knows my name and when He knows your name, it doesn’t matter if nobody else does. He said to write on what makes my heart sing. He said where your heartbeats chime in time with God’s, pour your treasure there. My first book had to be on prayer.
So I kept going. I made plans to finish the book in the fall and publish it myself.
Then one day I heard from a publisher named Marti Statler. We had met at the writer’s conference two years ago when this whole publishing thing began. Marti’s publishing house wasn’t a fit with my book then, but she signed up to receive my weekly emails, and for two years Marti has been reading them.
But things were different now. She had started a new publishing house and wanted to publish my book. The world needs your book, Marti told me.
So Les contacted them and they emailed a contract and Pure Word Partners became my publisher. And get this—the manuscript is due on October 20, my birthday. If you follow my writing, you’ll agree that God’s at it again!
The book will be published in 2013.
How did I get a book deal? Through perseverance.
When I started the process I didn’t know how long it would take or where it would lead me. I just knew God was calling me to do it.
Sometimes what we see as failure or rejection isn’t that all. It’s preparation. Or not the right time. Or a test of the heart. It’s God’s acceptance.
But if you hold fast and stick with that holy calling no matter the bends or bruises it brings and walk with the encouragers, helpers, and guides God is putting beside you, then in the right time God will make good on His promise. And when it comes, He won’t be surprised at all (even though you might be).
Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, encouraged me, and read my stuff. Although it feels the journey is over, the adventure is really just begun.
For updates on the book, you can subscribe to my email newsletter or go to www.MadetoPray.com.