Most of you know by now I wrote a book on sexual purity this past summer during my sabbatical. Well, I guess it can’t be called a “book” technically, but it is a very long Microsoft Word document that I hope gets turned into a book someday.
I was really blessed to have an editor at Baker Books volunteer to look at it for me and give me advice as a first-time author. (A very generous gesture and something I really appreciate) There was a chance if he liked it and thought it would sell, that I could skip over a lot of the middle steps and get published by Baker.
Got the email last week.
He liked parts of it.
And he said it wouldn’t sell.
He recommended turning it into a series of blog posts or self-publishing it.
Everything I’ve read, as well as advice given to me by my author friends, tells me to get used to rejection when trying to get published. In Michael Hyatt‘s book Platform, the go-to book on advice for aspiring authors, he talks about how he received 40-something (I can’t remember off hand) “No’s” on his first book proposal before someone finally agreed to publish it.
The advice: Persevere. Keep going. Don’t let the “No’s” bother you. Be secure in who you are.
All things I figured I had down pat.
Until I got my first “No”.
When I started learning about the publishing world, I was a bit surprised by what I discovered. You don’t get your book published by having good content. You need an agent (Jerry Maguire style?). You need to show you have a platform. Platform = people who already know about you who will buy your book (namely blog hits/subscribers, Twitter followers, and/or being a megachurch pastor). Without this, you have no shot at getting published.
So in order to get published, you have to get a bunch of people to like you. Then you need someone with authority (first the agent, then the publisher) to consider you worthy.
How on earth do you do this without losing your soul?
I want to help people learn how to be free from sexual sin. So my first step is to start the Noah fan club, tell everyone how great I am, and get as many people to sign up as possible.
After getting my first rejection, and feeling its sting, I had to ask myself, “Why do you want to get published by a big publisher?”
In order to reach more people with my message of course.
More like: Because it validates you as a good author. It tells people you are worthy to be listened to. It tells people you have value.
The word “self-publish” sounded to me like the person at open mic night who can’t sing worth a lick but keeps belting out painful note after note, and even worse, telling everyone about the record deals they are pursuing.
Why do we seek things like a big name publisher to validate us? And I don’t mean as authors, I mean as people.
You may or may not be an aspiring author, but we all have our “big publisher”. That person or that institution we are looking to to validate us. To tell us we are worthwhile. To tell us we aren’t just another nobody.
If you’re a pastor, it’s likely your church attendance.
If you’re a blogger, it’s likely your site visit statistics.
If you’re a salesperson, it’s your amount of sales and how you compare with your coworkers.
If you’re unemployed or underemployed, it’s likely that awkward feeling when someone asks you what you do for a living.
If you’re a baseball player, it’s likely your batting average (and what the coach/fans think because of it).
If you’re a quarterback, your QB rating (and what the coach/fans think because of it). (funny how only the quarterback has a rating in football, analyzing every single thing he does — I wonder what my Strong Safety Rating would have been?)
If you’re a student, it could be your GPA.
We live and die by these numbers.
Do these numbers have significance? Sure.
Are there life consequences if they go up or down? Sure.
Do they determine our value as human beings? Not a chance.
Yet we get sucked into them like they do.
Why do I feel like I’m important when my blog stats are up, and like a loser when they are down?
Why do I feel like a success when the church auditorium is full and like a failure when it’s sparse?
Because I’m letting these things determine my ultimate value. Rather than realizing I am God’s son, adopted securely into his family, and this alone gives me my value.
God’s not impressed with a .400 batting average, or that a big publisher thought a book would sell enough to make them a profit.
It’s natural for us to look at our jobs and get a false sense of value from them. Join the club and don’t beat yourself up over it. But with this awareness, realize it takes this type of ‘failure’ to really learn where our ultimate value is coming from. You won’t learn it when you’re throwing all touchdowns or when your blog traffic is off the charts. You’ll learn it when there are 18 people in church and nobody thinks your book is any good. You’ll learn it when your face is in the mud and you finally realize God loves you just as much as He always has.
For me, I’m making it a new discipline to not look at my blog stats anymore unless I’m needing to send out an official update in a book proposal. And if I end up self-publishing, I will not think any less of myself.
And if my goal with this whole venture into blogger/author world is truly to simply reach people with my message, why do I need a certain quota before feeling like I’m actually helping people? If I’ve helped one person, is that not enough?
We are so concerned with the audience we don’t have. We lose sleep over them. We beat ourselves up about them. But the truth is, we all have audiences already. Whether it’s 90 friends on Twitter, or the 14 other guys in the dugout, all watching your next move after getting pulled from the starting lineup. Captive.
You have an audience and you are worth listening to.
What will you show them?
Focus on the audience you have, not the one you don’t.
- Ep. 35: Interview with Kevin DeVries on going from a millionaire to homeless, finding wholeness from brokenness + dying for 15 minutes and seeing the Risen Christ - September 18, 2020
- All Lives Matter vs. Black Lives Matter - September 11, 2020
- Ep. 34: Interview with Todd A. Wilson on a biblical theology for sex, marriage, and LGBTQ+ issues - August 25, 2020