It’s here! At long last! A book I wrote fifteen years ago has finally hit the press.
Well, not exactly the press. Fact is, I’ve just launched my first self-published ebook. Having sent my manuscript to some 30 publishers over the years, I finally decided that this thing needs to see the light of day.
Adventures in Heaven is the true story of a man who has had multiple (i.e. thousands) of visions of heaven. What is it like in heaven? Is there really a river of life and a holy city? Does the apostle Paul wear little wire-framed glasses? Or how about Mary—does she look like her Son? And how green is the grass?
In one fascinating story after another this book opens the windows of heaven on detailed vistas of the New Jerusalem, the throne room, the altar, heavenly plants and animals, and meetings with biblical figures such as John, Ezekiel, and Moses.
What’s not to like about such a book? Frankly, I don’t understand why publishers didn’t slaver all over it. Especially these days, when accounts of true experiences of heaven are riding high on the bestseller charts. For example, there’s Todd Burpo’s Heaven Is For Real, the story of his young son’s trip to heaven during emergency surgery. It’s a great read, but it’s nowhere near as extensive and detailed as my book. Nothing is. You won’t find another book anywhere like Adventures in Heaven. That’s why I wrote it.
Is that why publishers won’t touch it? Because it’s too unique, too detailed, too graphic, too RADICAL? But I thought good writing and publishing were all about being radical? I thought the whole point of great writing was to get beyond the average, the status quo, and to say something no one else is saying.
Isn’t that why we read? I’ve always loved that quote from Franz Kafka:
“If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? A book should be an ice-axe to break the frozen sea inside us.”
Adventures In Heaven certainly did that for me. Of all the books I’ve written, it’s my own favorite. Partly because of the wonderful effect it had on me, opening my eyes to the reality of heaven and my heart to its deep truths. But also because no book has given me a sweeter, more joyous, more thrilling ride. From beginning to end, writing it was pure bliss. Every time I touched this book, it rang deep and true.
Is it any wonder that I want to pass on this experience to readers? How perplexing, then, that every publisher and agent I’ve approached with this project has turned it down cold. In my three-decade writing career, it’s the one and only time I’ve been shut out.
How come? It must be because somebody’s crazy, and it’s either them or me.
I vote for them.
For the record, I just want to set down something of this book’s publishing journey, or non-journey. I began by sending it to the various publishers who had worked on my other books, people with whom I had a relationship. That didn’t work.
Next, I sent it to a dozen or so other large Christian publishers. And then I sent it to every other publisher, Christian or secular, who had ever published a book about visions of heaven. In my cover letters I carefully pointed out that these publishers seemed to have an interest in the very subject that my book dealt with in spades.
Okay, time to get an agent. I’d never had an agent before. I’d published eight books without one. Agents just didn’t seem necessary. But now I was desperate.
As luck would have it, the phone rang. Out of the blue. And on the line was the biggest Christian literary agent in the biz.
Hot dog! Now things were smokin’! Now I could get my book published….
Or not. I did sign up with the Big Guy, but it turned out that every time I mentioned Adventures in Heaven, he plugged his nose as if it were a rotting fish. No, he had other plans for my career. Big Plans.
After two years, the Big Guy and I parted ways. All his Big Plans had come to nothing, and I was back on my own.
Now what? I turned to writing children’s fiction, and once again, in order to find a market for these books, I had to hire an agent. The new fellow was really nice, and I’m very grateful for his help in getting my novels published.
However, when I tried sending him Adventures in Heaven, a funny thing happened. He dropped me like a hot potato! Over a couple of years we had built a very good, friendly relationship. Now, all of a sudden, he wouldn’t answer my emails or phone messages. Nothing. He never did reply to me. To this day I haven’t heard back from him.
What is it with this book??!! Is it really so bad? Is it poison, or what?
Maybe it is poison. Maybe it’s the best kind of poison: the kind that utterly destroys the spirit of the world and replaces it with the kingdom of heaven.
That’s what I think, anyway. For what it’s worth.
By the way, I forgot to mention that years ago I self-published a paper version of Adventures in Heaven. The print run was 400, I think, all of which sold out quickly. I have just two copies of that edition left, and I don’t mind telling you that they’re the most precious books I own—with the possible exception of the first book I ever published, A Beast With Two Backs, hardcover copies of which are scarcer than a pullet’s molars.
So that’s the story on Adventures in Heaven. You can understand my excitement that now, finally, it’s available as an ebook. Why not check it out and see what all the fuss was not about? At $0.99, it’s a steal.
One caution, however: I do realize that THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR EVERYONE! It’s very different from any of my other books, and who knows, there may be good reasons why 30 publishers and several agents turned it down.
So there, I’ve warned you. And no, this is not a reverse marketing ploy. You really might not like this book!
Then again, you may love it.
photo credit: ‘Ajnagraphy’