I have always thought being an author is one of the most humbling, vulnerable occupations ever. We know we cannot please everyone, yet when those honest but critical editorial comments arrive, we often feel like curling up in a ball in a corner, don’t we? And when we are finally published, then comes the challenge of book promotion. And that can leave us feeling even more foolish, depending on what ventures we tackle.
Soon after my first novel was released, I remember sitting at a writers’ centre book fair behind a table on which I had placed a hopeful number of those lovely, new copies I was so proud of. Beside me was another author with his pile of books. And beside him was another … and another … and another. We looked at one another’s books—and waited for those hordes of interested readers who never came. In the end, after buying my neighbour’s book and selling him mine, we all slunk off home, feeling more than a little foolish.
On another occasion, I sat at my book table in the hot sun for hours at a church fete where no one much turned up—and certainly no one interested in buying books. That day, I went home feeling both foolish and exhausted, vowing never to do anything like that again.
Then there have been those customers at in-store book signings who, when offered a free promotional bookmark, have looked at me as if I were some weird, alien being and bluntly rejected me. And I remember others too who, when I have shown them one of my novels, have turned their noses up and said in a disparaging tone, ‘Oh, I don’t read novels!’
I could go on.
So … what have I learnt through such experiences? I have learnt perseverance. I have learnt patience. I have learnt not to take things too personally. I have learnt to smile and hopefully not judge others so readily. But above all, I have learnt to ask God for the strength I need to tackle such situations. So earlier this year, when faced with the daunting challenge of holding a Facebook Live book launch for my latest novel, Down by the Water, I decided I would try it. After all, what was the worst that could happen? Only that I would look and sound a fool! Besides, there were some decided advantages to an online launch—and perhaps God might be able to use it in ways I could never have imagined. And that is what happened, despite the poor sound quality on the day and despite my not knowing what I was doing.
I’m so glad we have a powerful, loving God who knows our foolish ways and our weaknesses, yet still chooses to speak through those words we write, aren’t you? See 1 Corinthians 1:27-29!