When I came to a financial impasse, I forgot about my manuscript and publishing until a friend sat next to me in church. We were listening to church announcements when Emma leaned over and stuck an offering envelope in my hand. Perplexed, I looked at the envelope and said, “Do you want me to put it in the offering basket?”
“No,” said Emma. “It’s for your ministry.”
“Your writing ministry,” she replied.
I shoved the envelope back into Emma’s hand. “Put that in the offering basket when it comes by. I don’t have a ministry.”
She shoved the envelope back into my hand. “No, it’s for you.”
I pointed to the name of the church on the offering envelope. “It’s not for me. It’s for the church. See the name on the offering envelope.” I shoved the envelope back into her hand. Emma glared at me and tried to shove the envelope into my hand now formed into a tight fist. “I’m not taking money in a churches offering envelope,” I whispered through clenched teeth.
Emma ripped open the envelope. Dropped the cash onto my lap and said, “It’s for your ministry.” The look in her eye threatened physical altercation if I dared give the money back.
Lest we start a World Wrestling Federation Smack Down in the middle of a church service, I put the cash in my Bible and said, “Fine.”
I didn’t know what to do with the money, so I put it in my file cabinet to await a burning bush experience or at least a voice from heaven offering direction.
The following Sunday, Emma donated more money to my non-existent ministry. I put the money in my file cabinet. After receiving donations for several months, Emma said, “So what are you doing with the money?”
I wasn’t doing anything with the money but I was reluctant to disappoint my benefactor with the truth. Then I remembered the editor’s discounted offer to fix the grammar in my manuscript. I smiled, “I’m paying an editor to prepare my manuscript for publishing.” Lest I burn in Hell for being a liar, I sent the editor an email as soon as I returned home from church. He was still interested in doing the work at the discounted price. I matched the money Emma had given me for my non-existent ministry and sent the editor my first chapter. When work on the manuscript concluded, the editor recommended a new publishing house called Publish America.
Publish America’s website said “traditional publisher” but used, at that time, a new technology called print-on-demand. They did not charge authors to publish their book, but did little to help them market. I researched well know Christian publishing houses and found the same sign hanging on each of their doors. “Don’t call us, get an agent.” My paraphrase of, “We don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.”
Getting a manuscript published was not going to be easy, and “published author” was not on my list of things I most wanted to do in life. I filled out the information Publish America required and tossed the edited manuscript on the shelf thinking I’d come to the end of the road. My education in publishing had just begun, but I didn’t know that yet. More about that in my next post.