Monday, April 2, 2012

What I wish I knew before I published that I know now

What I wish I knew before I published that I know now
By Joshua Graham

Prior to my contract with Howard Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), I had always believed that I could be in control of all aspects of my career. On the surface, one could argue that I did all the right things, worked my tail off, and applied my knowledge of the craft and business, and those all led to my getting published with one of the Big 6.
Indeed, without work nothing will happen, because books don’t get themselves published, nor do they sell themselves. 

That said, many who work hard and are deserving still don’t get signed with a traditional publisher (if in fact, that is their goal.) For a long time, I sent in my query letters, received my rejections, and pushed through believing that my book DARKROOM was a work worthy of publication. I was blessed with many trusted friends, colleagues, and family members who continually spoke that into me, and I believed it enough to keep submitting it no matter how many rejections I received.

I’ll admit, even with all the faith in God, and encouragement from beloved supporters, there were days that I spent discouraged and worried, questioning myself if I had what it took. But I had also learned to tune those voices of doubt out and keep moving forward in faith.

Eventually, I stopped worrying altogether and applied myself to writing the next book, and most importantly finding my value, worth, and identity in God. I started every day reading the Bible and cultivating a close relationship with my Maker and it got to the point that I was able to sense His presence and promptings in my life clearer than ever. I’ve got to tell you—it changed my life forever. I found that there was nothing more satisfying and more meaningful.
You see, I had recently lost my day job (in the I.T. field) which I’d held for nearly a decade. The job that had enabled me to support my family and keep a roof over our heads. My company had outsourced my entire department to Bangalore. So, you can imagine that as one who had seen himself as a bread-winner, it was a huge blow to my ego that I wasn’t able to provide like I used to. But during that time, as I began to understand God more and more through daily prayer and study of the Scriptures, I learned that God is my provider, AND my family’s provider. I learned that if I sought after Him and all that was important to Him, He would add to me everything I needed.

And He did.

Less than a year since I lost my job, my book BEYOND JUSTICE got published and within a couple of months hit #1 on several bestseller lists on Barnes & Noble, and shortly after hit several on (and stayed there for almost 19 months to date, climbing to #1 in several categories as well.) Then came the awards (International Book Award for Beyond Justice, Forward National Literature Awards, and USA Book News Best Books Awards). Long story short, I am now making better living now than I ever had before I lost my full-time day job, AND I’m writing full-time, doing what I’m truly passionate about.

Oh, and by the way—all throughout that time, as I was praying and cultivating my relationship with the Almighty, I continued with my due diligence in sending out query letters and proposals, praying over them, and then forgetting about them. I was too busy being excited about the new insights and revelations God was giving me that helped encourage my family, and my friends alike. I became a small-group leader in my church and was able to encourage others who were struggling financially, spiritually, and in their relationships, all because I made myself available to learn about life from the author of all life.

One day, as I was praying (my computer happened to be on), I heard the chime from my email notification. First of all, I usually don’t even turn on my computer when I’m in the Word and praying, much less interrupt my prayer time to look at an email.
But this time, something in my spirit prompted me to “go ahead and take a look.” Odd, but I just went ahead and did so. And there, lo and behold, at the top of my message list was an email from the editor at Howard Books with an attachment. That attachment was an offer letter from Simon & Schuster for DARKROOM!

Can I just be really transparent with you for a moment? As soon as I read it, I fell on my knees, lifted my hands to heaven and shouted, “Thank you, GOD!” (I think I startled my dog.) This was a dream come true. And of all the publishers out there, this was the one I always dreamt about working with.

You know what is truly interesting about this? I had come to a place of full surrender of my dreams just before I got the offer letter. By that, I don’t mean that I said in my heard, “Okay, God. I get it. I’ll just quit here.” No, it was nothing like that. My thoughts were like this the entire time: “Lord, I know you have a great plan for me. I know you gave me the ability to write, and you specifically helped me write DARKROOM. So I’m going to quit worrying about it and let you do Your thing in Your time. Meanwhile, I’m going to make it my priority to get to know You and Your word more and more. I offer all my books for You to do with as You please.”

Let me tell you something. When I did this, there wasn’t a hint of sadness, or sense of loss. I was excited. Thrilled that I didn’t have to worry about my life anymore, now that I’d entrusted it to Him. And just a few days later, after I came to that point, I got the offer letter from Simon & Schuster.

What do I wish I knew before that I know now? Well, there were some days that I felt really down, before I devoted myself to prayer and learning to hear from and commune with God. Those days did in fact drive me to seek Him with all my heart, soul, and strength. But if I had been able to see clearly how He makes” all things work together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose,” I might have saved myself a few sleepless nights, from a few extra gray hairs from worry, and been able to relax a bit sooner.
But nothing’s lost. What I learned from that experience will stay with me forever, no matter the circumstance, no matter how I feel about things. When you seek after a relationship with the One who designed you, you really learn to fulfill your purpose and go from mere existence, to living life to the fullest by fulfilling your destiny.

I’m just beginning.

About Josh
Joshua Graham is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon and Barnes & Noble legal thriller BEYOND JUSTICE. His latest book DARKROOM won a First Prize award in the Forward National Literature award and was an award-winner in the USA Book News “Bests Books 2011” awards.
Connect with Josh at the following:

Ian Alexander
Amazon #1 Bestseller
Award-Winning Finalist in the USA Book News Best Book Awards 2011
Finalist in the Forward National Literature Awards
Twitter: @IanAlex77 

Thanks so much for sharing your amazing experiences Josh!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the opportunity to share on your blog, Bri. I hope to hear from your readers, if they have any questions or comments.

    Joshua Graham