Tuesday, January 8, 2013

If you write it, they will read, part one



My next few posts will be dedicated to telling the stories behind the publication of But the Greatest of These is Love. They are awesome details about the God who continually pursues me. I am pretty oblivious and stubborn, so He has his hands full!

Back to the book . . . Any new author's dream is to find a successful literary agent who will represent her book, otherwise publication is all but impossible. I had written a great book, I had polished, and shared, taken suggestions, edited, and polished, and repeated the process. Who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to represent my magnum opus?  After a couple of years getting form rejection letters in return email, I finally got some encouragement. I saved this one which represeted a moral victory. I have deleted a sentence here and there, for brevity, but the words are hers.

"Thank you so much for contacting ___ Literary Agency. You certainly do have a poignant story that is a beautiful tribute to God's amazing love, and the power of the human spirit. I'm sure that it could be inspiring to many.

Unfortunately, having a valuable story isn't enough to get a book published these days. Agents are faced with a big dilemma in taking on unknown authors with good books. Publishers want a "platform". Basically, they want an author who has the ability to help them move books. Begin to see yourself as an author/speaker with a message to share about the amazing ways God uses ordinary people to accomplish His mission. This way you will begin to build yourself a platform -- speaking in churches and other organizations.

Publishers want to see what the author is already doing to get their message out. If you could demonstrate, in you book proposal, that you have a strong and growing platform, I could likely make sure this got a good look at the publishing houses. If not, I would strongly recommend that you take the time and effort needed to build your platform (even if it takes a year or two). Without this, no matter how good or helpful the book is, publishers are simply not giving even good books the time of day (sorry to say). Your next option is to self publish and sell the books yourself, which many authors are doing  (but you likely won't sell many copies). 

I encourage you to work on building a platform, and continue seeking representation and/or publication. I truly hope God provides a way for you to have this project published."

I have  emboldened the words that jumped off the page at me: "a year or two." A finished, ready-to-read book had been my mother's prayer for years already. I was afraid she wouldn't live long enough for me to establish a "platform," even if I knew what a "platform" was!

Self-publishing had never been an option for me. Her letter echoed in my mind for the next year, particularly the "you won't sell many copies."

Well, what came to me one day when I was overwhelmed trying to start a blog, and learn to tweet, figure out an appealing platform, and do it in a way to gain followers, yesterday--I had a sudden and foreign thought: (I knew from experience where these "random" thoughts come from.) God is in control of this project. If He wants people to read the book, He will make a way for it to happen. He will do it, not a great agent, not my marvelous tweeting abilities (certainly not that!), not a captivating "platform." God will make it happen. Then, in Him only can I boast. He had clearly been behind, or in front of, the writing of the book. To what end? So people would read it. So, the steps toward self-publishing began.

Stay tuned. God is awesome! Continue here.