Although an avid reader and library fan from as far back as I remember, I never dreamt about writing a book from the get-go. My path to publication followed a strange trajectory. I skipped senior English to glide through my last year of high school. I shoved aside college until I turned thirty-five, and I sold my first book about the time others start napping after supper. Then, somehow, I found the courage to ask Debbie Macomber for an endorsement.
When my editor emailed to start working on book endorsements, I cringed. Self-reliant to a fault, I shy away from asking for favors. Especially from busy authors. Especially from people I admire. Especially from someone I barely know. But that’s how this business works.
Did I have the nerve to ask established authors to read my debut? Oh, and say nice things about it too? Maybe.
I stewed, jotted a list, crossed out names, and prayed, seeking guidance and open doors. After comprising my messages, I hit the send button, waited, and second-guessed my efforts. Maybe, just maybe, I should have contacted one additional author, a New York Times bestseller.
Debbie Macomber and I met at a Texas airport after the ACFW Conference in 2018, two months before I received my contract with Lighthouse Publishing. Debbie, the keynote speaker, had inspired me to persevere. I still remember much of her wisdom.
At the airport, we waited for our respective planes, sat side-by-side, and hashed over professional football. She cheers for the Seattle Seahawks. I’m a cheese head. While she knitted, I told her how my Grandma had tried to teach me to crochet and then suggested I find a new hobby.
At some point, Debbie asked if I was published. I shook my head and told her not yet. Then she asked what I wrote. Goosebumps! Debbie-world-renowned-author Macomber had broached the subject, not me.
Cue polished pitch.
Instead, I stumbled through how my maternal grandparents’ love letters had inspired my manuscript set during WW I. With her knitting needle still clutched in her hand, Debbie pressed her fist against her chest and said, “That touches my heart.”
Unless dementia sets in, and there’s a decent chance, I’ll never forget that moment. It was a gift. My prayer for the conference was to make connections in the literary world. God answered it by way of Debbie Macomber, Tina Radcliffe, Sarah Sundin, and a host of other authors I’ve respected from afar.
Should I ask Debbie to endorse my book? Would she remember me? Did big-time authors help nobodies? Was I crazy to even consider it?
Since I’ve been labeled crazy once or twice (I prefer fun-loving), I asked.
The day a message arrived in my email from Debbie’s assistant, I gaped. Debbie intended to write a blurb. I googled what’s a blurb. Loose definition: it’s a tad shorter than an endorsement. A blurb was perfect.
After I mailed Debbie a note of thanks, she sent me a beautiful congratulations card and a handwritten note. Who does that? Umm … Debbie Macomber.
Time passed, and then another message arrived from Debbie’s assistant. When would Three Little Things be ready for review? Debbie now hoped to write a full endorsement.
I laughed. I cried. I fell to my knees and prayed a prayer of gratitude. I’d handed my book over to God weeks before my publishing deal. Before, I’d called most of the shots. Maybe all of them.
The whole endorsement thing still intimidates, but I’ve learned a few key lessons.
1. It’s okay to ask for help, even from established authors.
2. Most authors, particularly in the inspirational market, exemplify generosity and goodness. They remember what it felt like to debut.
3. God opens doors, not me.
Debbie’s full endorsement follows:
“Three things I loved about this book:
- I fell in love with Arno and Hattie
- The saying and songs of WWI: I found myself signing ‘Over Her, Over There’ and I want to join a knitting brigade!
- The promise of more books by Patti Stockdale. I want more!”