We came to Mount Hermon with three simple goals: to learn, grow, and connect. With a manuscript representing months of hard work, we took the immensely difficult step of presenting that work to two fiction intensive groups, two agents, two editors, and three best-selling published authors.
And the results are in.
James Scott Bell (best-selling CBA author): “This is good. This story is too big for the CBA. Take it to the ABA.”
Janet Grant (literary agent): “I liked this story very much, but it would be hard to convince readers to buy a book about Amazons and Scythians. So while I appreciate your writing–which is very good–I don’t see a market for this book.”
Steve Laube (literary agent): “Very creative but almost too creative…You have a unique setting but it may be too far out of the norm for today’s market…Also the first scene in the bedroom is a little titillating–maybe too much for the traditional Christian reader…And then you reveal he’s also a cannibal. I wanted to stop reading at that point…The writing is fine, but is applied to a challenging storyline. Hope that helps (excerpted).”
Vicki Crumpton (executive editor – Revell/Baker): “Love the story, but we don’t publish historical fiction unless it’s biblical or 18th century. Do you have anything else I can read?”
Julie Gwinn (marketing manager – B&H): “I loved it. I see a market for this as a YA novel.”
Brandilyn Collins (best-selling CBA author): “Excellent story. Excellent writers. But you will face significant challenges, maybe insurmountable challenges, to publishing this novel in the CBA.”
Randy Ingermanson (award-winning CBA author): “I loved it. I would read it. But you’re in no-man’s land–you’re not in the CBA, but you’re not quite in the ABA. You’re closer to the ABA. Stay in touch. You don’t need to remind me who you are (ie. we met at Mount Hermon). I’ll remember you.”
At writer’s conferences, every meal has people asking you what you’re writing. So, gluttons for punishment, we sat at Steve Laube’s table, after we’d received his note of rejection. We didn’t want to change his mind, we’re not that obnoxious (not publicly anyway). We were just curious. All we said was, “We wrote the Amazon story.” Apparently our story, while rejected, stood out in his memory–clearly. The look on his face was one we’d come to recognize.
“Oh, you’re the ones.”
Our story has made us unforgettable among those who read it. So, mission accomplished…
After receiving our notes of rejection (which we’re not strangers to after all this time, but they still stung), we happened to meet Janet Grant directly after leaving James Scott Bell. She took one look at our name tags and said (again), “You’re the ones.”
But she continued.
“I’m so glad I ran into you. I loved your story. I couldn’t put it down, it kept me up late reading, and you don’t understand how rare that is, but I’ll never be able to sell it in the CBA. Have you considered the ABA?”
That made our day.
The problem wasn’t the writing, but the same obstacle we’ve continued to butt heads against for our entire fiction writing adventure – we don’t fit. We’re misfits. Even when we tried to obey all the rules of the CBA, we failed. This time, not only did we fail, we did it with such flaming gusto that not only did we miss the market conventions, we jumped all over them with glee. We write stories that no conservative Christian wants to read or buy (so they tell us). Looking back, we agree that this novel isn’t a good fit for the CBA, but in all honesty, a week ago we really thought we’d hit on a winner. Oops.
The advice was unanimous. We should take our newest work to the ABA.
It all left us feeling . . .
Misunderstood. Misplaced. Mistaken. Second guessing. Underestimated.
That’s when we had two surprise encounters with fellow Canucks that gave us fresh hope. We ate breakfast with author Grace Fox, and she listened to our dilemma and ‘gave us permission’ to write for the general market (ABA). She really is good at “leading women in fearless faith.” Her prayer had both of us in tears. How silly to need permission, but we did for some reason. We needed to know we weren’t traitors or betraying our faith by wanting to write for the general market.
Simon Presland, another fellow Canadian, ran into us and asked how our conference was going. Having just finished a critique group where some called our manuscript (we’re paraphrasing) socially depraved and morally reprehensible, our self-esteem had reached an all-time low. We said we were thinking of going to the general market.
He nodded. “Good for you. The CBA has become a little like incest. These conferences should be places you come to learn, to grow, and to be encouraged. We need Christians writing in the general market, that’s what we’re called to do–go out into the world.”
This has led us to a decision that one moment makes us feel silly and like traitors, and the next minute absolute relief and freedom. We’re going to the ABA.
What our adventure to publish this story in the general market will bring, we don’t know. We have the names of several recommended literary agents who represent successful authors in both markets, so that’s a start. We’ve made some contacts here who believe in us, and believe in our story. We believe we’re doing the right thing. Stay tuned, and we’ll give you the details of our new adventure.
We may be misfits, square pegs in round holes, but we’re going to stop denying who God’s made us to be and see what happens.
Marcy & Lisa