When I released my first book, an author I knew shared a picture of his book in a bargain bin at a discount book store.
I gasped in horror. What if that was my book? Would I dare to share a picture like that???
Eight years later, my first book has no doubt sent plenty of copies to the bargain bins as well. My publisher stopped promoting it—that’s what they told me.
While I had long taken pride in the fact that my book was still officially in print eight years after being released and selling more copies than the majority of first time books, I started to face my fear about going out of print. This was way beyond the bargain bin. This was THE END.
We all want to be validated and praised, and that’s a big part of what publishing commercially can do for a writer.
One of my lessons in contemplative prayer has been to go through my fears, to face them in all of their menacing power and to seek God on the other side. This is very counter-intuitive for a person like me. I have anxiety issues, and the last thing I want to do is to face the source of that anxiety. However, facing the source of my anxiety has been much better than reacting to the sensation of anxiety itself, and once I face the root of my anxiety, I actually have something to pray about.
So I faced my fear about going out of print. What would it mean?
Honestly… not that much. The book wasn’t being promoted. Why did I care about an official listing with a publisher if I could actually promote it better myself?
I was shocked to see how fast my fears melted away. As it turned out, my fragile ego had been fueling all of my fears and anxiety. I didn’t want to be found out as a fraud if my book didn’t stay in print, even if something like that could never determine my identity or worth.
How often do we give such tremendous, absolute power to fleeting, fickle things? Do I really want the business team at my publisher to hold the key to my identity as they debate black and white dollars and cents related to my book?
Once I faced the worst of my fears about going out of print, I started to find new energy for this book. I started looking into which chapters I could revise, and I lined up a college professor to help with the revisions since he’s been using the book for a seminar class for several years.
I still believe in this book, and I wanted to do the work to send it back into the world better than ever.
My agent and I decided that we would ask for the rights back after we got back from a major publishing conference. As it turned out, the publisher sent the official letter offering me the rights back a week after I returned from the conference.
Instead of wallowing in despair, I was delighted to see that the process was already in motion.
Before the files arrived from the publisher, I already had an order for 40 print copies.
There is life on the other side of our fears. Oftentimes, we just need to face them, bringing the root issues before God. The process isn’t neat or pleasant. I’ve certainly had enough devastating failure and struggles to make me desperate enough to find another way forward.
Perhaps you’re living in fear of something today that has power over you. Remember that God has not given you a spirit of fear, so if you’re under the power of fear, it’s not from God. There is healing and renewal for us, and we could end up in a place of freedom and hope that we never ever imagined.
We are loved. God is for us and desires our healing and freedom.
Perhaps today you need to read the words of Psalm 131:
O LORD, I am not proud; I have no haughty looks. I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are too hard for me. But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast, my soul is quieted within me.
May we find God’s rest on the other side of our fears.