Four years ago, I published my first book. I thought that when the first printed copy would find it’s way into my hands, I would feel a level of success and relief. To some degree I felt those feelings, but in the back of my head I knew this book was self-published. In essence then, I simply paid for my book to go to print, it wasn’t printed on the merits of the book itself, or my ability to write. Anyone could do this. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this was nothing to be excited about. To add insult to injury, my book didn’t sell more than 300 copies, which in the publishing world means it was a flop. It’s been four years and I’ve not braved the waters of publishing since.
I remember reading posts by Michael Hyatt on how his first book was rejected by 32 publishers, but then one picked it up and it became a NY Times Bestseller. I dreamed and longed for his story to be my own. However, after about 15 rejections I caved and paid for it to be published. I was given some good critique on how to make my book better before publishing, but I ignored it. I went ahead and took my manuscript and asked others to help me get it published. I deeply regret this move.
I recently put my newest manuscript in a contest with Thomas Nelson‘s self-publishing arm Westbow Press. I’m no longer willing to pay for my book to get published, but I wanted to see if my book was good enough to win in a writing contest. It wasn’t. I didn’t even place within the top 10. Yet, I write and I can’t seem to stop writing. I love to communicate and I don’t sense this will ever stop. I sense a call to preach, teach and to write, so no matter what happens to me and my writing, I can’t stop. I’m simply designed to communicate.
I’ve found that I invest a large amount of emotion into my writing. I care what people think, but I’ve learned to take constructive criticism and not reject it. I’m changing the way I approach how I write. I’m changing the way I listen to the criticism I receive. I desire to make my writing better. It is hard to keep going when there is so much rejection of your work but I can’t not write. I am adamant that I will never self-publish again because if I have to pay for my book to get published, it’s not good enough yet. I understand the harsh realities of the publishing world where for the most part, if you don’t have a platform you won’t get a contract. My thinking is if I don’t have a platform, do I even have anything to say? This can be a negative, disarming thought, but it can also be a healthy one. If God desires what he’s calling me to write to get published, he will make it so. Since I’ve written my first book, I’ve received more speaking gigs than I ever had before. God has been slowly giving me a larger and larger audience to speak to…I believe he is building my platform…not for me to lift myself up, but for me to lift him up.
I will be honest, if I had a large platform when I was 22-26 (when I was developing and publishing this book) it would have been more about myself than about Him. Too many pastors who were famous young have burnt out, walked away from the Truth or screwed up in big ways. If God would’ve allowed me to have what I wanted then, I may very well be the same. I think I have grown due to the pain of disappointment in the rejections I’ve received from my writing. When I first began writing, it was truly to gain recognition, a name for myself. Now I am seeking to have a platform so I can allow Him to be known.
When things don’t go as we expect, or feel like we were told they would, maybe God is up to something bigger. When it comes to my writing and developing a platform I believe it is to ensure I will be able to handle what comes my way with it all. I fully believe that before I die, I will have something that I write legitimately published by a known publisher. I guess I’m just not ready yet. I will keep writing and pushing towards the goal, even though it’s hard and hurts sometimes.