The Blooming Book Marathon
Writers’ conferences have been refreshment stands along the marathon route to publication of my book, Blooming.
The first time I went to a God Uses Ink conference, I came home with John Redekop’s book, Two Sides, The Best of Personal Opinion 1964-1984. “I can do that,” I said to myself. “Only, I’ll do it different…less opinion, more story.” I didn’t think my opinions would be as highly valued as John’s.
[Editor's Note: John Redekop, a now-retired political science professor and writer who taught at earlier God Uses Ink conferences and was awarded the second annual Leslie K. Tarr Award for outstanding career achievement in 1989, will attend the 25th anniversary celebrations at Write! Canada 2009 during the Thursday and Friday night plenary sessions.]
I was writing a monthly family life column for Christian Courier, and began loosely collating these bits into a manuscript as I went. Over the years, I sent my masterpiece to various publishers: Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, and Word Publishing, to name a few.
Some actually considered my work for longer than it took to write a rejection letter. In the end, though, they all said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Thanks, but no. Good writing, but your manuscript doesn’t meet our requirements.” With each consecutive rejection, I reworked the manuscript. I took out stories, I rearranged stories, I added a lengthy poem, I took out the poem.
John Redekop made it look so easy.
While randomly sending out my manuscript, I was also sporadically attending writers’ conferences. After attending a Write! Canada conference in the 90’s, I came home with the idea that I needed an agent. I wrote to several, and all I can say is they were more efficient with rejections than publishers.
The century turned. At my next Write! Canada conference I specifically targeted an agent. I picked the one who I believed would fall in love with my work. The more I read about her the more I knew within my soul that we would forge a lasting relationship. At the conference I was the first to sign her interview sheet. My appointment would be in the middle of a seminar, but I didn’t care. At this conference, she was the meat, everything else was gravy.
At the interview, I pitched my heart out. She seemed so right for the manuscript.
Three months later I got the rejection. She didn’t think she was the one for this piece of work.
I sent my work to an author coach. He gave me some valuable advice: write a theme page and then incorporate the theme into the manuscript and write an introduction in line with the rest of the book. I did all these things. He sent the manuscript to a publisher for me. The publisher immediately accepted the book. It would only cost twelve thousand American. With some advise from The Word Guild, I was the one who said to the publisher (and I’m paraphrasing), “Thanks, but no. Your offer doesn’t meet my requirements.”
Then I entered The Word Guild’s Best New Canadian Christian Author contest for new authors. I was a finalist. I came to the Gala, totally prepared to give my acceptance speech. The Word Guild didn’t want to hear it. Some other lady said hers instead. I don’t know why they picked her for the speech: I can still say my well-crafted powerful 90-second speech if anyone asks, and to be honest I don’t remember a word she said.
At the conference, Wendy Nelles stopped me in the hall to say congratulations on becoming a finalist. My disbelief must have been showing. “No, really,” she said, “That’s quite an accomplishment.”
At that same conference, I signed up to meet with two publishers. One publisher was very interested in my manuscript, the other didn’t show up for the appointment scheduled right after lunch. After 20 minutes of my waiting, N. J. Lindquist came over to apologize for his absence which she wanted to explain but couldn’t.
No matter…I had my publisher. His company took my work, sent it to a free-lance editor who after three-months of sheer joyful hope on my part, suggested the manuscript needed applications with each story. So the publisher once again sent me a polite rejection. I boldly proposed he reconsider the manuscript once I put in the applications which, by the way, on the suggestion of one of the judges in the Best New Canadian Christian Author’s Contest, I had taken out. I rewrote the manuscript once again, writing thought-provoking, intelligent applications far surpassing the original ones.
Yet again, I got, “Sorry your manuscript doesn’t meet our requirements at this time.”
Then a friend sent me some information about a contest she thought I should enter. It was a free publication contest with Word Alive in Winnipeg. I had avoided the Word Alive booth at the writers’ conference. I figured if my work was worth publishing, a publisher would be willing to put out the money to do just that. (This was before I heard about The Shack which was self-published after 40 rejections.)
Again, I became a finalist; again, the joyful hope; again, “Close but no cigar.”
Well, I buckled and accepted Word Alive’s generous reduced rate for all finalists. And I can’t say enough nice things about the people at Word Alive. They made a stunning book out of my manuscript. It’s beautiful. The book is called Blooming: This Pilgrim’s Progress. Just look at it: http://mariandenboer.blogspot.com
Marian den Boer