The road to publication can be a bumpy one, but if we’re willing to stay the course, we can also discover that the time spent traveling is well worth it. Today, author Jonathan Wakefield shares what he learned on his own journey and the rewards received for not giving up. Enjoy! ~ Dawn
My Journey to Publication
by Jonathan Wakefield
I’ve been writing fiction my entire life. It’s not something I do, it’s who I am. So thirteen years ago when I became serious about getting a novel published, I assumed I was born to be a best-selling author and would naturally pump out awesome stories at will that readers would devour in a single night. (Humility was a foreign concept to me then.)
Until I showed an agent my completed work at the time. His extensive feedback brought me down to reality, teaching me that writing fiction is no different from any other professional pursuit and actually requires the appropriate skills to achieve success. Despite the blow to my ego, though, I was still convinced that God wanted me to write, so I began reading books on the craft of fiction and taking writing courses, all while completing novels and submitting them for publication.
The rejection letters began to accumulate, along with questions and doubts. Was I really stewarding the time and money God gave me wisely by writing an hour or two every day (except Sundays) after the kids went to bed and spending my savings on writing courses when I had no guarantee I would ever get a book published? It was exhausting and overwhelming.
In 2009, for the first time in my life I seriously considered the previously unthinkable: giving up fiction. At least for a while. Instead, I would focus on advancing my freelance writing and editing business.
But then a story idea captured me: What if a Christian were to go on a reality show only to have it taken hostage and turned into a battle for survival? I couldn’t stop thinking about it, the possibilities it presented, and I knew I had to turn it into a novel. This would be my final attempt at publication for now. I put everything I had into it, and six months later Fatal Reality was complete.
I entered it into the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. I ended up a finalist, but didn’t win. I did, however, connect with my agent, Terry Burns, at the conference where the results were announced. He liked the book and started submitting it to publishers. He also liked an idea I had for my first non-fiction book and had me write a proposal for that. After about a year of sending both around, though, and receiving more rejection letters, I had about given up and was ready again to move on.
Then I got The E-mail. OakTara loved Fatal Reality and wanted to publish it. Five months later (last November), UPS dropped my first box of books on my doorstep. In the meantime, my non-fiction book (political in nature) had been picked up as well and is now scheduled to release on April 15th.
It amazes me that less than a year ago I was ready to abandon book publishing for a while, but now I’m on the verge of having two released in a five-month span, finally fulfilling that agent’s prophecy from thirteen years ago. The flight I took to this point was turbulent and did not follow the route I would have chosen, but fortunately I’m not the pilot. Looking back, I now realize that my writing used to be about what I could achieve for my glory. But God in his grace used every challenge, doubt, and question, ultimately humbling me to the point of being ready to give it all up, to get me to where he could finally use me as a writer for his glory.
This is only the first leg of my writing journey, though. I look forward to seeing where he will fly me next, through whatever turbulence that will mold me to best serve him.
Jonathan Wakefield is an Information Technology professional, holds a degree in Biology from the University of Richmond, and is a Craftsman graduate of the Christian Writers Guild. Jonathan’s short stories have appeared in The Rose & Thorn and The Messenger, and he has written articles for various online and print publications, including The Christian Post, New Man, Men of Integrity, Live, The Gem, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Fatal Reality—a finalist in the 2009 Operation First Novel contest—is his debut novel. He lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife and two sons. Learn more at www.jonathanwakefield.com