The paradox of laying things down
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that changed things significantly, but afterwards, you couldn't remember the details?
On October 1st, I published a blog about how my plans for this year hadn't come to fruition, but that I was okay with it. Regarding my manuscript, The Beautiful List, I wrote the following:
While I’m waiting to hear back from one literary agent, I’m taking steps towards self-publishing the manuscript in spring 2022. I haven’t failed to accomplish my goal; it’s just been delayed. It’s going to take more time and effort on my part to sift through all the layers of work involved, and to think through a marketing plan that will get it into the hands of tween girls and their moms.
After being turned down in May by the literary agent I thought I'd be working with, I spent time assessing her trustworthy feedback: publishers weren't seeking middle grade fiction, no traditional publisher would touch my project because it included Bible verses, and I needed to spend time building a bigger platform (audience). Truly, I was convinced through months of both research and prayer that self-publishing was the path forward. I had acquiesced to the idea that a traditional publisher would not be interested.
It didn't feel like failure, it felt like an answer.
On October 1st, I was excited to move forward, having laid down my plans and thoughts of traditional publishing. God provided an editor to give me feedback for free. I had one email to a literary agent hanging in the ether. And I had one hybrid publishing company that two acquaintances had recommended I consider. Hybrid publishers, generally speaking, help authors navigate the publishing process in exchange for the authors paying for services and, usually, printing costs. Over the following 11 days, that company expressed interest in publishing my book. Also, the free editor gave me confidence when she told me she loved my story and it was ready for a copy edit. I decided if I was considering hybrid publishing, I should seek out more than one option.
On October 12th, I learned that Morgan James Publishing existed and that it is pretty close to being a traditional publishing house, but maintains desirable qualities of a hybrid publisher, such as enabling the author more autonomy.
On October 13th, I tracked down who I thought would be the correct acquisitions editor there for my project. I cold-called her, asked for three minutes of her time, and when we hung up, I was sending my manuscript directly to her. I still don't remember anything I said after the words, "Do you have three minutes?"
On October 19th, I heard back that my manuscript was magnificent and we set up a call for the next day. I then worked on a marketing plan for the book - updating and fleshing out the plans I had already devised to self-publish just weeks earlier - and submitted it on October 26th.
On October 27th, exactly two weeks after I contacted the acquisitions editor, I had a contract in my inbox.
That is not coincidence. That is God.
Had I not come to the place of laying down how I thought I wanted this publishing journey to go, I might be taking credit for this development. The thing about letting go and trusting God's plans for us means that when we finally release the dreams in our hearts that we are so certain He has planted there, He is free to work to bring them to completion. I can boldly claim this not simply because of the story above, but because of countless others I have heard like it. At the Citizen of Heaven tour Q&A event I attended two weekends ago in Ohio, Tauren Wells said that a pastor had told him in seminary that he needed to decide between his passions: preaching or music. The teacher warned against trying to do both. As Tauren wrestled, and eventually came to the place where he laid down music, it was precisely then that Lionel Ritchie called to ask him to go on tour. And trust me when I say that during the concert two weeks ago, Tauren both sang AND preached. God's ways are not our ways; they are better.
I could not have orchestrated the events nor the timeline above. And I'm embarrassed to confess how anxious I was until Friday. I've been stressing over all the details as I'm so prone to doing. How will this new timeline work? I was already making plans to self-publish this spring, but now the publishing date will be delayed by about six months. I have more to do than I previously thought I would. But when I remind myself of what God has done and is doing, how can I do anything but trust that He's got this?
I'm both excited and scared to move forward and pick back up what I laid down: my desire to have this book widely available (including in bookstores) to help girls, along with their moms, to recognize they are innately beautiful and worthy simply because they exist and were created in the image of God.