Ever do a happy dance? If so, what prompted it? Getting the job? Getting the loan? Getting the girl?
If anyone has ever hired you, loaned you money, or married you, you know how terrific it feels when somebody takes a chance on you. (Oh great, now ABBA is stuck in my head!) With so many of life’s dreams, that’s exactly what is required before they come true. Someone else must believe in you enough to risk their money, their reputation, or their heart. They think you’re worth it. They believe you’ll make them a profit. You’ll get the job done. You’ll remain loyal and loving. They like the product you’re offering. They take a chance on your success.
Since 2009, I’ve been trying to find a publisher willing to take a chance on me and a little novel I wrote called The Silver Suitcase. What a roller coaster ride! Doing well in some major contests, only to be “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” Taking courses to sharpen my writing skills, only to hear I use too many clichés. Receiving untold rejections from editors and agents. Reading umpteen critiques from amateurs and professionals alike—some helpful, some not so much. Revising and reworking and rewriting again. Finally gaining the attention of an agent, only to have her unsuccessfully pitch my manuscript to publishers for nearly two years, earning not a cent for either of us. Starting a second novel only to abandon it, convinced it was all pointless. Telling myself I’d give it ten years before resorting to self-publishing (where the author takes all the risk, paying the publisher instead of the other way around.)
Then, getting a phone call I’ll never forget.
Two days after my birthday this past February, my agent, Jessie, called to say she’d landed a book deal for The Silver Suitcase with Waterfall Press, a new company publishing Christian books under the Amazon umbrella. I did as much of a happy dance as one can do when one can’t believe their dream might actually be coming true. When a month went by and I still hadn’t seen a contract, I became convinced it wasn’t going to happen after all…which would have been really embarrassing after my husband bought me flowers and my coworkers all signed a card of congratulations.
Finally, on April 17, I received the long-awaited contract and subjected the world of Facebook to photos of me signing it. Waterfall plans to release the book next January and you can bet I’ll regale my longsuffering readers with more columns about this journey in the months to come.
Lest you conclude this is a get-rich-quick thing, it’s taken me six years to earn an advance equivalent to two month’s pay at my part-time day job—so I won’t leave City Hall any time soon. If the book sells well, we’ll see royalties coming after that, but they offer no guarantees. It’s all part of the gamble.
Meanwhile, it’s such a gradual process, you never really know when the right time arrives to do the happy dance. When you receive the call? When you sign the contract? When you see the first payment deposited into your account? When you finally hold that book in your hands? When a reader writes to say she was moved by your story? All of the above?
Here’s what I know. Dreams only come true if you refuse to give up. If Louis L’Amour could endure 350 rejections before selling a single book and Jack London 600—who am I to quit? Who are you? God’s not finished with you and your dreams yet. Keep going! And when the day comes that someone takes a chance on you, you can sing like ABBA, “Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie; If you put me to the test, if you let me try.”
It’s a good tune for a happy dance.