Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What Took so Long?

Dying to go on Vacation has been two years in the making. Two years ago I sat on the beach in Rodanthe, NC (where I am today, btw) and wrote the first few chapters of what would become the book about my journey discovering life in the midst of facing death. What took so long? I had the initial manuscript, query letter, and basic book proposal done some where around October or
November of 2013. My friend Lisa Creech Bledsoe did me a HUGE favor and read the initial writing and helped me with some serious edits and re-writes. I tend to write like I speak. It works for me live, but is less focused in print. When I reflect on what took so long, here are my reasons (well, maybe excuses) for why it took so long.

Rejection Letters
Accumulating rejection letters takes time. I sent queries to agents all over the United States as well as submitted proposals to publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts (not very many by the way). Then I anxiously waited by my mailbox for my flattering, complimentary acceptance letter with an advance check and contract. Instead I accumulated twenty-five rejection letters/emails. The first couple of rejections from larger publishing houses and busy agents were certainly expected. Never to fear I had submitted some that I was certain would be accepted. Nope. I would be lying if I said that this much rejection doesn’t sting a little. I mean my blog was blowing up but even super-micro publishers were uninterested. Oh, I got lots of solicitations from folks who would “partner publish.” Of course they wanted $3,000-$8,000 up front. Unfortunately cancer treatment is expensive. So I stacked the rejections on the corner of my desk and let the project sit for a while.

Writer to Author
There is a really steep learning curve between writing and being an author. If you know me, you understand my primary spiritual gift may be resilience. I decided to just finish the book and then take it from there. This is where I realized there is a difference between writing and being an author. There is a difference between firing off a few 1,000 word blogs every week or so and putting together a long form manuscript between 40,000 and 50,000 words and keeping the message coherent and consistent. Thanks again to Lisa and her book series on becoming a published writer and Joseph Michael's at Scrivener Coach’s four amazing free videos I began the process of learning the most confusing word processor program I have ever tried. I needed my book in Scrivener so that I could export it into publishable formats for Kindle, Nook, CreateSpace, etc. if I was going to actually self publish. I am not a “master” yet (that will come when I can afford the entire course after I sell 20,000 books LOL) but I can do the basics and at least get documents done.

Author to Publisher
There is an even steeper learning curve from being an author to publishing, even self-publishing can be overwhelming. Thanks to a relative of a friend, Dave, at Black Mesa books, who sent me an action plan I at least knew where to start. I spent a couple of months reading book after book on self-publishing, Kindle uploading, CreateSpace formatting, etc. I had to learn about ISBNs and cover designs. I was beginning to see why those “partner publishers” charge so much money. It is really easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of decisions and things you have to learn to get a book to print and at every point there are a million ways to screw up. Luckily I happened upon the Self Publishing Podcast and their book, Write, Publish, Repeat and Guy Kawaski’s books APE which were invaluable and became my self-publishing “bibles.” I also am part of Michael Hyatt’s Get Published course. While I am a little late on that course it is still providing a lot of great information and tools for the book launch. On Aug. 31 by book releases and I’m a little stressed that it will have one or two of those million previously mentioned errors, if it does I will try again.

Fear of Rejection
Let’s face it writing, and even publishing the book, is the “easy part.” What is tough is putting a very personal story out into the world and then having it rejected. The closer I get to the book the more I doubt myself. Danelle (my wife) and I were discussing the book the other day and in the midst of that conversation I realized that a lot of my “delay” was not for the reasons I have listed, but instead it was my personal fear of that the story was mundane and uninspiring. Writing a book is like putting your soul into print and then giving it away for others to critique. Being a pastor and public speaker I’ve learned how to do this in a live venue where I can engage the audience. Putting your story in print is a whole new level of vulnerability. Thankfully I happened upon Brene’ Brown’s work and she has inspired me to just put it out there because somebody, even if it is just one person, needs the message you want to share. I once heard the somebody say, “bravery is fear that has said its prayers.” Keep praying!

Oh Yeah, Cancer and Career
My last reason (excuse) is that during the past two years I have transitioned into a new career and had regular cancer treatments. In summer of 2014 I transitioned to work at the NC Conference office for The United Methodist Church. While this is an amazing opportunity to do what I love and invest in coaching and create resources, it also demanded a lot of time and dedication to learn a new job. This derailed the book for another few months until Winter 2014.

On December 17, 2014 I had an experimental cancer treatment that combines my normal medicine with radiation. The treatment was not fun, recovering from it was worse. I wrote about it in “Battle on Three Fronts” if you want to check it out. It took until almost March before I was able to get fully back to work and focus again. I bought Jeff Walker's book, Launch and just decided to do something. I decided to quit making excuses and start making progress. I often teach that progress, even baby steps, is what moves you toward your life that matters. I reread books, made contacts, re-edited the book for the hundredth time, learned how to format, fought with Scrivener, published a trial book, fought with CreateSpace and Kindle, and kept at it.

Now two years later I am two weeks from book launch and trying furiously to get some publicity out there so I can share the story. I have a couple of other projects already underway that I am determined will not take two more years to complete and put out into the world. Thank you for sticking around and for your prayers. I want to live a life that matters and that means to quit making excuses and start making progress. In the comment section below share what your favorite reason (excuse) is for not starting something big in your life!

If you want to pre-order the Kindle version you can do that here. The print version is almost ready for pre-order as well. There may be a Kickstarter for the first 100 signed copies to help get this off to a good start! Here we go!

Consumed by the Call,

PS. Just so we are clear, none of the links are "affiliate" links. That means I'm not making any money by sharing them with you, I'm just telling you what helped me finally get it done. Thanks!

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