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When They Say No

by Catherine West

When my agent, Rachelle Gardner, offered me representation, I had just completed a manuscript called Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Rachelle liked it because it was ‘different’. I agreed. I certainly hadn’t seen any books about a female journalist who travels to Vietnam during wartime. Not in CBA anyway. I was ecstatic to finally have an agent who believed in my writing and loved my story as much as I did. After a rewrite and some plot changes, we had a book that would sell quickly. Or so we thought.

Truth #1: Just because your agent loves a project does not mean it will sell

Some projects are hard sells. Mine was one of them. Looking back, I think there were numerous reasons it didn’t sell right away. Some editors assured us it wasn’t the writing, so we were left to assume it was the content. I had written a book that was, perhaps, a little too different.

Truth #2: Listen to Good Advice

Having a very wise agent is one thing, following her advice is quite another. I’m sorry to say I was pretty set against putting this book on the shelf. I was in too deep, too emotionally invested – I refused to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen. One of the hardest emails I’ve had to read from Rachelle was the one telling me she felt we needed to stop pursuing publication for this particular project. (How’s that for alliteration?). She was just as disappointed as I was, but she was looking at the big picture. I was too busy chomping sour grapes.

Truth #3: Learn to Let Go

This is where I get nauseatingly trite and throw the old if you love something let it go saying at you. But seriously. Letting that project sit on the shelf whilst working on other things was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my writing career. But you know what? It was absolutely the right thing to do at the time. It may not always be the right thing for you, but I know it was for me. Those few years allowed me to grow as a writer. I attended conferences, honed my craft, wrote new books and simply enjoyed this crazy but wonderful writing journey.

Truth #4: Sometimes You’ve Got to Go with the Gut

They say there is a time and a season for everything under heaven. I believe that to be true. You see, that story I let go, well, it wouldn’t let me go. So I attempted one more major rewrite, and in fear and trembling approached my lovely agent with the idea of resubmitting. She agreed, and I’m happy to say my instinct on this one was right. And so was Rachelle’s. It was just a matter of timing, as she so firmly told me two years ago. I’m so glad I listened! Yesterday’s Tomorrow was published last March, through OakTara Publishing.

Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine West holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in March 2011 through OakTara Publishers. Catherine’s next novel, Hidden in the Heart, will be available in the near future, also through OakTara.

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5 Responses to When They Say No

  1. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. It certainly encouraged me.

  2. Sara Goff says:

    I have a similar story, Cathy. Thank you for sharing. Your experience gives me hope.

    Sara

  3. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Cathy,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I know I’m not the only one who is glad you came back to this story. Yesterday’s Tomorrow gripped me from page 1 — and there are still scenes that I remember vividly months later.

  4. Great publication story, thanks for sharing!

  5. Patti Mallett says:

    That had to be so tough!!! If we could only see the end from the beginning………..we would learn so little about trust (or perseverance). That’s what I hear you saying.

    Thanks for sharing this piece of your journey, one that certainly had a lot of blood, sweat, and tears hidden between the lines.

    It’s a faith-builder that each of us can draw from. Thanks, Catherine!! (And congrats on your success.)