Friday, September 27, 2019

An Unlikely Publishing Story – Hope for When You Feel Like Quitting

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Jerry loves God and those around him. He ministers through his local assembly, studies the Bible, and counsels his friends and neighbors. Concerned about the direction in which his country is moving, he’s become increasingly fervent in his witnessing.

One day, God calls him to write a book. A bold book. A passionate book. A politically-incorrect book. 

Jerry’s been following the Lord since he was 13 years old, so he knows disobedience isn’t an option. Who knows? Maybe God will use his book to turn the tide of culture and faith and set the nation back on track. 

Regardless of the outcome, God has called him to write the book, so write the book he will.

Knowing he needs help, Jerry enlists Barry, his partner and friend. Among other abilities, Barry can type, so Jerry dictates, and Barry transcribes.

When they finish the manuscript, they send off the only copy to Jerry’s agent. “When the time is right,” the agent says, “I’ll present it to an acquisitions editor.”

So they wait. And wait. And wait. A year passes before Jerry receives a message: It’s time.

Within hours, he receives another message: The editor was blown away. He’s calling a special meeting of the pub board.

In the pub board, the editor reads a few sample chapters aloud. When he’s finished, the room is silent—until everyone starts talking at once. “Where did you get this? Who wrote it? How did this come about?” Before he can answer one question, four more come flying at him.

“We’re taking this to the president,” the VP says. “Now.” They crowd the elevator, ride it to the top, charge past the AA, and burst into the president’s office.

“We just received a manuscript that has the power to blow the top off the publishing industry,” the lead editor says. “It perfectly describes today’s culture. It’s sensational, controversial, and extremely well-written. It flies in the face of political correctness, but it’s spot on.”

He begins to read. When he finishes the first page, he hands it to the president.

“Keep reading,” the president says as he leans to the side, feeds the page into the shredder sitting beside his desk, and flips the switch.

For an hour the VP reads and the president shreds until the entire manuscript has been reduced to confetti.

“Call the police,” the president says. “This guy’s going to jail.”

A frantic text message from his agent sends Jerry and Barry into hiding, helping them narrowly escape arrest.

Jerry receives one more text before the agent deletes Jerry’s contact information from his phone: Your manuscript has been destroyed.

“Well, Barry,” Jerry says with a feeble grin. “I guess it’s back to work.”

Sliding his ancient laptop out of the case, Barry boots up the machine and rests his fingers on the keyboard. He opens a new document, saves it this time, and begins to type as Jerry dictates.

“From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day . . .”

In time, Jerry and Barry complete the manuscript—again. With God’s enabling they not only recall the words of the original draft but add new material, making the narrative even more powerful and inspired. 

After his death, Jerry’s manuscript was added to a collecting of writings that became the bestselling book of all time. It’s been translated into 536 languages and has sold more than five billon copies worldwide.

The book is called The Bible, and Jerry’s portion, “The Book of Jeremiah,” bears his formal name.

The next time you lament the difficulty of the writing life, the unpredictability of the publishing world, and the fickleness of today’s readers, I hope you’ll remember Jerry’s story and the lessons we can learn from it:
  • When God gives you a message and calls you to write, do it.
  • Don’t go it alone. A trusted friend, typist, critique partner, or beta reader can make an impossible task possible. If you don’t have a Barry, ask God to send you one.
  • Remember, God is at work in the waiting time.
  • When rewrites are necessary, trust that the process will produce an even better manuscript.
  • God uses agents, editors, and even presidents, but they are only tools in his hand.
  • If you obey God’s voice and remain faithful, He will accomplish His purposes for your writing.

"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you’” (Jeremiah 30:2).

Be encouraged, Friend. Write on!

Now it’s your turn. Which of the five lessons from Jerry’s story resonates with you? Why? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

If you’d like to read the original narrative of Jeremiah’s writing adventures, you’ll find it in Jeremiah 36 and 25:1-14.


Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of several devotional books. Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women won the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is due out in the spring of 2020. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on FacebookTwitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).


  1. So encouraging, Lori. And so very, very true. Staying the course.

    1. Good for you Anne. As long as God continues to inspire us, we must continue to write. And trust His timing for the results. May God be glorified through you today :)

  2. Very clever, Lori! LOVE this. The "sent his only manuscript" threw me and then later I figured it out. Great reminders and my heart always hurts when that manuscript got chopped up and he started all over again! Now that's persistence, isn't it?

    1. I agree, Julie. One time I was 2/3 of the way through transcribing chapters into a Word document from hard copy when I lost it all. (in the days before AutoSave). I realized I had a choice -- quit or start over. By God's good grace, I started over. That project later became my first book. I'm glad I didn't quit, because that probably would have been the end of my very short writing career. God's blessings on your writing life today!

  3. Love this, Lori! Thank you for this reminder.

  4. What a fantastic perspective! I’m thinking of all the other great books written throughout the ages - Shakespeare, Dickens, Austin, etc. Did they ever consider people would still read their books hundreds of years later?
    Who is my audience - and will my book be relevant in 200 years...Or more? Will Christian material be more valued in the coming millennium....?
    Interesting & possibly something to consider in the revising/editing process....thanks Lori. :)

    1. Great questions, and ones we should all wonder about. Are we sharing truths that are timeless? Perhaps the delivery may differ (as I demonstrated in this post), but the underlying truth should remain the same. May God bless your writing journey, friend.

  5. Thanks so much for the post. I was obedient and wrote a story last year that God really wants to come out. It's releasing in an anthology on Oct. 1. Since then, I haven't had that same strong sense of direction but I keeping writing away, hoping that if I keep working, I'll know what He wants next.

    1. I've been in lulls like you describe, JPC. I continued to ask God for a project, and He kept telling me, "Be faithful with the opportunities I've given you." In the fullness of time, God did bring that next project, and, looking back at the timeline, I can see how he didn't waste a single second of the in between time. Keep asking and listening and sitting on go, so when the time is right, you'll be ready!

  6. I just read about this in my personal devotions! Thanks for giving it a modern twist and packing it with encouragement. I will persevere in obedience.

    1. Michelle,
      I love how God repeats himself when he wants to communicate truth to us. And I'm so glad he doesn't just say it once, because I'm pretty dense. I might miss it altogether. Press on in faith and watch what he will do!

  7. Amazing post, Lori. And so encouraging.
    Thank you!

    1. I'm so glad the Lord used HIS words to encourage you, Ingmar. Write on!

  8. Wow. Thank you. I caught on it was Jeremiah when you mentioned the president shredding the manuscript (Jeremiah cut off the scroll and threw it into the fire). Just this morning - an hour before now - God put in my mind a new way to write/publish a middle-grade book that I had believed I should publish, but that I had put aside after several people "in the know" discouraged me. Now, with that "tickle" in my mind this morning, and YOUR post, I've gotten new excitement. I will mull it over and see how to progress.
    I like your FIRST and LAST points especially.

    1. ... not Jeremiah, but the KING cut off Jeremiah's scroll....

    2. I LOVE how God has given you a new approach for your latest project. And then to confirm his call in another way, that is sweet and precious confirmation. May God bless your writing, Jackie. Keep us posted!

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