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?