This past weekend on the reNEW writer’s retreat, I had hoped to tell everyone that my novel was finished and it was in the hands of a literary agent. However, two weeks before the retreat, I read a book called Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell that made me reconsider my whole plot. After talking with some friends, I realized that the only change that really needs to take place is the setting, but I still had a bend in my pride when I had to tell a literary agent I met that I wasn’t ready to send it in yet.
I’ve submitted my book to six literary agents. I know that the Christian fiction market is not doing too well, but I have a passion to help people see a relatable character through fiction to help them overcome their anxiety, find their purpose in life, and walk in their identity with Christ. I actually have three novel ideas that each branch from these topics. However, each time I receive a rejection from a literary agent, I wonder if God’s plan for me is to write this novel, or if it’s just my own dream.
Each time I submitted my book to another literary agent through e-mail, I prayed that God would lead me to the right literary agent, and that even if it didn’t work out, that the agent would have just enough spare time to tell me why he/she did not accept my proposal. Literary agents are typically very busy, so to expect a response from an agent is a tall order. However, as a writer trying to publish her first book, I need all the advice I can get. Of the six times I submitted my book, I heard back from two. The first one that rejected my manuscript has a blog that I follow, which has helped me tremendously as a writer.
The second agent who rejected my manuscript decided to give me some advice, which I greatly appreciated. He told me that the Christian fiction market wasn’t doing too well, so a lot of agents are steering clear of that. He also gave me advice about how to make my book better, and he encouraged me to keep attending conferences. Finally, he told me to keep pressing on, and God will lead me where He wants me to go. I am incredibly honored that this man who has very little time to spare took the time out to impart wisdom to a woman beginning her humble journey as a writer. It even looks like I got a word of blessing from him!
I share my personally journey of writing a book because, when I am a bestselling author of something, I want to look back and remember where I started. I want to encourage writers who aren’t there yet to keep going. Rejection is not the end of your story. God has given you a voice; use it to glorify Him.
Success is not defined by the end product. You may look at a book and think, “Well anyone can write a book.” However, you don’t realize the blood, sweat, and tears that went into writing it. Not everyone can write a book. It takes vulnerability, dedication, and insight.
I never want to be so famous/busy that I forget about the people that I met along the way. My why is to encourage women and the stories that God has given them. I don’t care how much money I make or what places I’m able to travel to; I never want to get to a place where I ignore or automate any experience I have with a woman who is desperate to share her story with me. I want each and every person I encounter to feel encouraged and to feel loved. If I’m making millions of dollars and I live in a fancy home with beautiful flowers and I have a social media team writing my tweets for me, I’ve lost my why, and I’ve failed at my goal.
Rejection hurts, but it’s not the end of my story. Even as I was writing this blog post, I had to remind myself that the rejection was not of me, but of my book. And as my friend encouraged me last week, the book may be great, but it might not be marketable at the time. It’s literally in God’s hands.
I say to myself what I say to you if you are struggling to fulfill your dreams: Don’t give up!