Friday, July 29, 2011

The Outsider’s Long Road to Publication by Ann H. Gabhart

Have you ever been told that the story you’ve written just isn’t marketable? It’s not what’s “hot” right now? Has that discouraged you? This Fortifying Friday, author Ann Gabhart is here to offer encouragement on just that subject. Don’t throw those manuscripts in the trash. Tuck them away. You never know what will happen down the road on your own journey, whether it be your first or tenth book published. God has his own timing. Ann’s story is a wonderful example of what happens when you don’t give up! Next Friday, Ann shares more about her ups and downs in publishing.  ~ Dawn

The Outsider’s Long Road to Publication
by Ann H. Gabhart

I wrote The Outsider in 1979. Received my first rejection for it in February 1980. A very discouraging reject. At the time, Warner Books was in the process of publishing my first two historical romances. The Gift of Love (my title for The Outsider) was their option book. That means Warner Books had first chance at the story, but they turned it down. Said the story was “too soft.” That the historical market was “tight.”

My agent didn’t give up. That’s a great thing about having an agent. They don’t break their pencils and quit when some editor writes a “so sorry” letter. She sent it back out. I got more rejection letters. The best one—if there is such a thing as a best rejection—came from Harlequins in November 1980. They said they’d “love to publish” my book. If it wasn’t so long. If it wasn’t a historical. If, if. Sigh.

I gave up on the story after that. My agent kept trying to sell the book for a while, but I lost hope. I had loved Gabrielle and Brice while writing their story. I mourned that no readers would get to know them, but by then I was deep in a new story that was giving me new hopes. Eventually my agent gave up too, and the manuscript found a spot on a closet shelf where all good books go when no editor loves them.

Fast forward to 2005. My first inspirational novel, The Scent of Lilacs, was published by Revell Books. I was ecstatic and felt privileged when my editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont, came to see me out here on the farm. After our visit as she was going out the door, she asked about the Shaker village not far from my home, then said, “I love the Shakers.”

In an offhand way, I mentioned I wrote a book about the Shakers once. In no way was I pitching the book, but she wanted to read it. So after she left, I dug it out of my closet. Writers are often told it’s good to set aside our work a few days in order to have fresh eyes when we begin rewriting. Let me tell you, set aside a book for twenty-five years and your eyes are really fresh. So I rewrote, polished, and eventually sent it off to Lonnie.

Fast forward most of another year. I’m talking to Lonnie about my second Hollyhill book, and I ask if any decision has been made about that Shaker book. She mentions concerns about my character’s visions in the book. I say I can’t edit out the visions. We compromise. Compromise works.

In 2008, The Gift of Love finally ends up in readers’ hands with a fantastic cover and a new title, The Outsider. In 2009, The Outsider was a finalist for the ECPA Gold Medallion Fiction Book of the Year. It’s time had come. Finally.

As a special treat, we’re sharing that The Outsider is being offered on Amazon as a free Kindle download.

Ann H. Gabhart has published over twenty novels for adults and children including her bestselling Shaker novels. Ann lives on a farm in Central Kentucky with her husband, Darrell who sings bass in a Southern Gospel quartet. They have three children and nine grandchildren. Ann’s latest releases are her fourth Shaker novel, The Blessed and Angel Sister, a novel inspired by the stories her mother told her about growing up during the 1930’s.

You can keep up with Ann on her website,; her blog, One Writer’s Journal,; Facebook author page, or follow Ann on Twitter, user name annhgabhart.


  1. Ann, I love your story/post. How discouraging, but God's timing is perfect. Blessings.


  2. Thanks, cb, for reading my post. I was discouraged when the book did not originally find a publisher, but now it seems like the book is just as extra blessing for me now.

    And thanks also to you, Dawn, for inviting me over to talk to the Seriously Write readers. We can all use a fortifying Friday from time to time.

  3. By chance I was given a copy of The Outsider by a friend who passes books back and forth between us. I can't say how much I loved this book and I intend sometime in the future to get all the Shaker books. I don't think I have EVER been any more impressed with a book as I have this one! (I have several favorites)
    GREAT JOB, ANN! I think I signed up with your author's page on facebook too and am looking forward to more news about you and your books from that (if that is how it works when we "like" a page there.


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