I’ve been away for a few days and busy playing catch-up since my return. I hope I still have a few readers left! Thanks for being patient. Today I continue with one of the questions submitted to me by Kathy N.
Kathy N: Could you tell us about something in your writing career that has been especially fulfilling?
Nick: Like most writers, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ll share one “down” with you first. About fifteen years ago I was out of a job, but wanting very much to make it as writer. I prepared a proposal and sample chapters for a novel I felt strongly about. I then went to the expense of flying to Atlanta for the annual CBA trade show. My major goal was to meet with the then premiere editor of Christian fiction and ask that person to take my proposal home to review.
It was hot in Atlanta, my budget allowed for only a cheap room quite far from the convention center, but at least I was there. And at long last I met with the editor of my dreams. But the meeting did not go according to my fantasy. The editor was kind, but firm about NOT taking my manuscript. The editor was heading for a vacation immediately after the trade show and would only see my manuscript when I sent it in through the proper channels.
The editor was right of course. Editors are constantly besieged by aspiring writers such as I was at that time. They have to learn to say no. And this editor certainly did. I left the appointment crushed. I’m somewhat embarrassed to tell you that I made my way to the men’s room, found a stall, and shed a healthy number of tears behind that closed door. It was a heart-wrenching experience. To this day, when I teach my workshop on succeeding as a writer, I give each student extra points if they have literally shed tears over a rejection. That too is part of the process.
Okay, now on to happier times. Only a year or two after that sad experience, I broke another rule. In my desire to make it as a writer, I chose my six favorite publishers and sent a letter to an editor (by name—I did my research) at each publishing house. Basically, I said I was a writer looking for a project and did they have anything for me?
I hope some of you right now are rolling your eyes at how unprofessional that was. I would never in a million years recommend you do such a thing. And yet I did it. I knew better, of course. But what did I have to lose, really?
And to my happy surprise, the editor at my number one choice was an editor I had interviewed for an article a few years earlier. To be honest, I had not remembered that interview. But she did. And she graciously responded with the suggestion that they were looking for a men’s devotional book to tie into the just blossoming Promise Keepers’ movement. She asked if I was interested in submitting a proposal. As the guy says on the Geico commercials, “Did the little piggy cry ‘wee, wee, wee’ all the way home?” YES, I was interested. I did the proposal lickety-split and the Monday after Thanksgiving I was offered a contract. The book was due February 1. I worked very hard and was only a few days late. You can see the book on this page: It’s called Promises to Keep. And the one that followed (also on my home page) was 365 WWJD (which is now my bestseller at more than 75,000 copies sold).
That led to other books, one of which has a more recent highlight attached to it. My two devotionals for Zondervan are Magnificent Prayer and His Victorious Indwelling. They are far deeper than my first two books and the sales confirm that. People do not apparently want “deeper” books. But for those who have bought my two Zondervan books, the letters I get are wonderful (as are the unsolicited Amazon reader reviews). Even more wonderful, in a way, was the news that pastor Chip Ingram has been mentioning Magnificent Prayer both from the pulpit and on his radio broadcasts. The excitement about this turn of events is that he did not know that he’s pastoring the very church in which I became a Christian more than forty years ago. Wow! When I heard what he was doing, I was amazed that God would so bless me in that way. It was like a word from God confirming what He’s doing. And when you’re a writer and there’s a desolate space between book contracts, it’s especially wonderful when God sends along little surprises like that.
If you’re at a low point in your writing career now, take heart. Keep writing, keep looking for opportunities, and start planning which writer’s conference(s) you’ll go to in 2011
Kathy, thanks for asking. Next time I’ll be answering Jan’s question about writer’s conferences, and then BJ Hoff’s question about my own reading preferences.
Finally, I think I’d be remiss not to take note that Chip MacGregor has decided to end his active blogging. I highly recommend you look through his archive if you’ve not followed his blog already.