The Book That Never Was

When I attended my first writers conference back in the late ’90s and people asked what I wanted to write, I always replied, “Magazine articles. I have no interest in writing a book; they’re too long and my attention span is too short.” And I meant it. I began to write articles and have a few published in Christian magazines.

Then along came Jeanette. She was the editor of one of the magazines I’d been published in, but then she moved on to the book publishing world. One day I got an e-mail from her. “Do you think you have a book in you?” it asked.


I thought about it. I prayed about it. I wrote her a short summary of a book idea I entitled I’m No Mother Teresa: Social Activism for Nonactivists. I wanted to share why I thought it was okay that most of were never called to be on the front lines of the justice wars, but how we were each called to do something in some way in our sphere. It would include chapters on various problems, outlining ideas of simple ways to make a difference in the world. It would include ideas of things families could do together. I wanted to combine rationale for acting with practical ways to act.

Jeanette liked it. She walked me through writing a proposal and sample chapters and all the things I didn’t know about writing a book. Her boss liked it. They took it to committee (the gatekeepers of the publishing world).

It got rejected.

I got the nicest letters from Jeanette and her boss Bonnie telling me how sorry they were and how much they believed in my book. Bonnie even met with me at an industry conference to coach me in how to pitch the book to others.

For 12 years I took the book to writers conferences and industry expos in Atlanta, California, Philadelphia, New Mexico. I pitched it to dozens of editors and agents, many of whom asked for full proposals. Six of them loved my writing and my concept, and they took it to committee.

There it died, rejected yet again.

The marketing people were sure it wouldn’t sell.

I hate to use this phrase because it sounds arrogant, but I don’t know how else to say it: I was ahead of my time. When I started marketing the book proposal a dozen years ago, no one was writing about social justice except hard-core social activists. Somewhere, about five years ago, the tide began to turn. Books on making a difference began to appear, some by the big guns in the publishing industry: Max Lucado and Bruce Wilkinson, for instance. Soccer moms began to have books published on the topic.

I had skipped pitching the book for about three years because I was so burnt out and discouraged. Apparently that was the sweet spot. I missed it. And my book proposal was just one among many.

I am officially retiring the attempts to sell the book. I originally named this blog I’m No Superstar, a twist off of the I’m No Mother Teresa book title, because I wanted to showcase simple things non-superstars like me could do to make a difference in the world.

Therefore, I’m going to use the blog to serialize the first few chapters of my book. Maybe that’s crazy. Maybe no one will read it. But what the heck? No one is reading it now sitting in a file on my desktop.

You’ll see it appear here over the weeks ahead. If you enjoy it, let me know. If you don’t, don’t tell me. It’s already received more rejection than I can handle.

Welcome to the book of my heart.

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