Monday, April 11, 2011

Confessions of an Author

If you have been published, you know the incredible, joyous, expectancy you have welling up inside of you right before your book’s release date.

If you’re like me, though, you also have some pushed-down questions lurking in the back of your brain…Will people like it? Will it sell? How can I help market it? Does it have the potential to be a best seller? Will it ever reach the New York Times bestseller list?

After all, it’s your “baby” and you long for it to reach your audience. You’ve put in countless hours, neglected family, friends, pets and other favorite things. Not to mention all the tears that have splashed on your computer keyboard. There were also days when you struggled to even write one sentence that worked – or to find that perfect transition sentence from one paragraph to the next. In essence, you hope no one will think your “newborn baby” is ugly.

The release day comes and you hold your breath. Will it get lots of good reviews on Amazon? Will there be any negative 1 star ratings? (If so, is there any way of removing those, you wonder?) Will people post your incredible book on Twitter and Facebook? Will it be picked up and re-tweeted with 22,200 hits in one day? (You hope!)

Maybe you can’t relate, but I’m a little embarrassed to say that I have experienced all of the above with high hopes of my books taking off in sales. But there is more I experienced – I began to compare myself to other authors. This led me to plead with God. “Father, why are her books selling and mine aren’t selling like hers? Wow, how come she’s asking her publishers for 1.5 million for a new series that she hasn’t even written yet – and they are willing to pay her! How did his book get on the bestseller list and in just a few weeks? What’s the magic ingredient that propels a book over the top? How did that author get to be #1 on the Amazon book sales? (I think I’m somewhere in the 548,785 ranking on Amazon with one of my books. ☺)

And then comes a question deep from my soul - Did I just not write a good enough book? (Whoops, was that shame slipping in again?)

So, two weeks ago I was bemoaning these very thoughts and feelings to God. “Father, I’m never going to write again – it’s too painful. And Father, now I see on Amazon that one can purchase Listening for God for a penny! (Of course, you have to pay $3.99 for shipping so that makes the value go up a bit. ☺) But really, Father, a penny?”

Later that day I ran to a department store to buy a gift. As I was waiting in line to make my purchase the lady in front of me turned to me and said, “You don’t know me, but I recognize you. You wrote Shame Lifter. I want to tell you how meaningful your book is to me. It has also been a help to my mother who was sexually abused by her father. Your book gives me hope…”

Ouch! I almost missed the true purpose for my writing….to have people drawn closer to Jesus to encourage them in their walk with God and to offer a small piece of hope in the middle of their woundedness.

This morning, during my quiet time, I found a letter from my dad. It is the only letter I have kept from him. Sadly, most were too painful for me to keep, but this was his most encouraging letter so I kept it. One of his sentences grabbed my attention:

“Let Christ use you – don’t try to use Him.”

I love how Jesus quietly and gently whispered to my soul this morning: ”Marilyn, you haven’t realized this before, but you are trying to use Me to sell your books. Please, dear child, rest in Me. I will take your books where I want to – where they will do the most good. You do not have to fret about this. You do not have to worry about them making money. Your writings are something that I ordained in advance for you to do. So, your earthly father was right when he wrote: ‘Let Christ use you – don’t try to use Him.’ As your Heavenly Father I encourage you to write, but let Me use your writings in My way.” Ah, such freedom in that release!

So dear author – let Christ use you and your writings today – however He desires. Keep in mind that, “…nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT.