Last week, at the last minute, I signed up to join a Zoom call through the Baltimore County Public Library with author Debbie Macomber. It was the best thing I did for my writing career last week, and I’ll tell you why.
If you don’t recognize the name Debbie Macomber, you may in a minute. She’s a bestselling author. Her genre is women’s fiction/romance. Her stories have been picked up by the Hallmark Channel (if you watched Cedar Cove, that’s Debbie’s brainchild, as are some of the Christmas movies on the network, including Trading Christmas, Mrs. Miracle, and Dashing Through the Snow). Her books can be found everywhere—at libraries, bookstores, supermarkets, and drug stores, as well as online. In a word, she’s omnipresent.
As I’m beginning to both drum up the courage to solicit agents and begin the query process having recently completed writing my fifth novel, Debbie’s words of encouragement were exactly what I needed to hear. She took us with her on the journey of becoming a published author with an agent and a publishing house to back her. It was no normal story; there was real struggle, rejection (over and over), and even financial hardships her family endured until she sold her first book. She told the story of a rejection so hurtful, it shook me to the core, because it took place in a very public setting. As a teacher and someone who has to work with students, I was rocked by the brutal publishing stories Debbie shared, including a negative comment made to her by her high school principal when she graduated. She endured some horrible comments and disbelievers over the years, but in the end, she showed them.
Now, with over 150 books to her name and a great deal of success, she is having the last laugh.
The best quote of the night came when she said, “Don’t leave a rejected manuscript on your desk. It has a home.”
I’m clinging to those words she spoke as I begin this daunting task of believing my story is good enough to be represented. I am channeling her energy, because like Debbie, I believe I can construct and tell a good story.
She even quoted John 14:1 when speaking about rejection and was guided by the premise shared in the Bible: “Let not your heart be troubled.” She kept those words close to her heart, and she carried on, marching to notoriety.
I plan to move forward with these guiding principles that she shared and go for it. Listening to her was exactly the push I needed to march forward in this effort.
If no one bites, I have the experience to self-publish again, but I’m going for like I’ve never gone for it before thanks to some seriously heart-wrenching advice from a humble and wise bestselling author.