Monday, September 13, 2010

The Light Came On



I can't tell you the exact moment it happened, but I'm glad it did. For six years, I'd been attending the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference and fighting my enemy, fear. Several times, I considered attending the workshops and skipping the whole editor/agent thing. While the non-fiction area flowed along, fiction left me bruised from hitting an invisible brick wall.

A couple of months prior to the conference, I spoke with a writer friend. When I explained the brain freeze and confusion, she gave me several tips:

1) Forget about selling your book at the conference. It isn't going to happen. An editor or agent might show interest and ask for a partial or full manuscript, but no one would commit to a contract.

2) If the editor/agent isn't interested or their house doesn't publish your material, ask them to suggest another publisher.

3) Ask them about market trends.

4) A conference is about building relationships. Get to know them as people. Pray for them and encourage them.

Some of the tension left me after that phone conversation, but I still didn't quite get it. I kept reminding myself of this excellent advice throughout the conference.

As the first day progressed, it looked like my book was doomed. No one wanted to touch futuristic fiction. I'm talking non-Sci-Fi, but definitely set a few years out from now. By the third day of the conference, I wanted to cancel my last appointment. My friend, Clare, urged me to go and explain the situation to the agent.

To my great surprise, he wasn't negative about the genre. He questioned me whether or not I'd researched the marketability of my book. I think my passion came through when I told him I'd been working on these manuscripts for years; the first book is the book of my heart. I had to write it. He said he liked my first paragraph (first paragraphs are CRITICAL!) and requested the full manuscript. Afterward, I wondered if he just felt sorry for me.

Several days later, I read an article on Camy Tang's, "Story Sensei," about agents. She urged the writer to send whatever an agent requests because they don't have time to gather manuscripts or proposals they really don't want. This got me past the whole, "maybe he didn't really want it" thinking.

Before I went to the conference, I prayed the Lord would give me favor and make the right connections. Here I'd been handed a golden opportunity. Was I going to throw it away? I purposely told people, not because I wanted to brag, but because I was afraid I'd chicken out. I'm reminded of a teacher's saying, "do it afraid." So, I did it afraid. Maybe this will be the beginning of a big break; maybe not. My job is to produce the best possible manuscript and trust God with the results.

Are you ready "to do it afraid?" Do you have any stories where you almost missed a great opportunity?





36 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

What an uplifting story! Just goes to show that even when we think there's no hope, God leaves a candle burning. Hoping you hear great news from the agent, Susan!

Diane said...

So glad you stepped out of yourself and into what God has even though it took faith. He will reward you! :O)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Love the "do it afraid"! Every time I'm afraid I'll remember this! Thanks!

Praying that you will have great news on your manuscript!

Sassy Granny ... said...

What a bogeyman is fear! It's stopped me in my tracks on far too many occasions, so I work hard at staring it down.

I like that you've mentioned the leaving of results to the Lord. That was a HUGE wisdom for me to finally "get". I make plans. I work at something. I rest in the certainty that outcomes are uniquely God's.

I have the feeling that someday I'll be asking for your autograph, and reading the book reviews others write about YOUR work.

Blessings,
Kathleen

Britt Mitchell said...

Ugh. I'm AFRAID. Why? Is it rejection? I mean, rejection isn't a exactly shock if you know anything about this business.

I'm also shy about meeting agents/editors/etc. at conferences. I don't understand this either. I'm normally an outgoing person.

The devil is using my love of writing to toss new fears at me each and every day. But God will help us, for we should not have a "Spirit of fear..."

I've been wondering about yout manuscript. I pray this is it! The big one!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Katie -

I pray my experience will help those attending ACFW and other conferences.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Diane -

Thank you. I think we sometimes lean on our own strength and abilities and forget that God is holding us in the palm of His hand.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Donna -

I've applied this to many areas of my life. Why I couldn't put it into action here is a mystery.

Fear is a bully, and the only way to deal with a bully is to call their bluff.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathleen -

Aw, thank you. As they say, "from your lips to God's ears." :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Britt -

When I get afraid, I stop and consider WHY I'm quaking on the inside. 1) Am I afraid of rejection? It goes with the territory. 2) What's the worst possible thing that could happen?

Even if that doesn't help, I've decided I'm going to "do it afraid."

Blessings,
Susan :)

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter said...

That is so great. Thanks for telling me about this. I'm thrilled for you!

tiff

Karen Lange said...

Great post! So many lessons wrapped up in one conference:) I can relate to 'doing it afraid'. Glad you had the courage to press forward. Good things are ahead for you, I'm sure!
Blessings,
Karen

Marja said...

Do it afraid... I like that Susan :) Thanks.

Patti Lacy said...

GREAT story, Susan! Thanks for sharing from your point of fear!

Patti

Becky Lange said...

The whole "do it afraid" thinking has been on my brain recently. Helps me to remember that when I'm in God's will, He's ready to meet me when I take the step of faith towards Him!

Thanks for sharing!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Tiff -

Thank you for your friendship and wise advice. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

Yes, and hopefully they'll stick!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Marja -

I wish the saying was original to me. It's helped me so much.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Patti -

Point of fear...ooo, I want to come from the point of faith from now on. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Becky -

I've found that when I step out even when I'm afraid, everything works out. Then I slap myself on the side of the head and say, "that wasn't so bad after all."

Blessings,
Susan :)

Stephen Tremp said...

I have never given up the vision of my trilogy because I think God gave it to me. He has a warehouse full of stuff like inventions, new music, medical cures, miracles, stories, etc to give to his people. You just have to see it through all the trials and tribulations, because it won't come easy. The secret is to not grow weary and faint in well doing, because in due season we will reap the rewards Gal. 6:10.



Stephen Tremp

Stephen Tremp said...

I have never given up the vision of my trilogy because I think God gave it to me. He has a warehouse full of stuff like inventions, new music, medical cures, miracles, stories, etc to give to his people. You just have to see it through all the trials and tribulations, because it won't come easy. The secret is to not grow weary and faint in well doing, because in due season we will reap the rewards Gal. 6:10.



Stephen Tremp

Jessica Nelson said...

Yay! Does he still have it? I usually feel afraid and nervous about my stories but I try not to any opportunities.

I hope things go awesome for you. :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Stephen -

Thanks for the good word. When we take our eyes off Him and put them on the circumstances, that's when we get in trouble.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jessica -

Yes, the agent still has my manuscript. He said it will take up to 4 months to send a response.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Rhonda Schrock said...

I always 'do it afraid.' That's my MO! :) I like using your worst-possible-scenario technique. That helps.

Nancy said...

How wonderful that an agent wants to see your full mankuscript. I'm so glad that the scrpit of your heart in in such good hands. Blessings on the next move.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rhonda -

It helps me! :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

He has it. Now I hope he likes it. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Faith Imagined said...

Sometimes it isn't until we have practically given up before a door opens. I am so excited for you!

kristen said...

Near the end of this years Oregon Christian Writer's conference I was tired. I didn't really feel like going to a workshop but a quiet voice inside nudged me to to bite the bullet and go to one about one sentence summaries.

During the class, everything clicked. I wrote my one sentence summary and when the teacher (also an editor) asked for volunteers, I raised my hand and shared my sentence.

After the class, she asked for the full manuscript.

If I hadn't gone to that class, I wouldn't have gotten that opportunity. YAY!

Terri Tiffany said...

I hope you hear good news and so glad you continued on!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

How exciting! Congratulations on the request for a full manuscript.

I often wonder how many opportunities we let slip through our fingers because we don't listen to His still, small voice. Distractions, fears, anxiety, and other things vie for our attention.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Thank you. I'll be sure to give an update if I hear anything. :)

Blessings,
Susan

quietspirit said...

Susan:
A pastor once told us we should attempt something so big that without God's help we would fail.
This sounds like your 'do it afraid' stance.

Thank you for the pep talk.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

I've heard that saying before as well. Getting a book published certainly qualifies!

Blessings,
Susan :)