Surviving Henry Book Cover

“PubCo” (AKA Publishing Committee, or Pub Board): A big scary meeting at a publishing house.

Remember the editor who first receives the book proposals? Who sifts through her boundless stack, pores over the writing, debates a book’s marketability, scrutinizes the premise for defects, and then brings a “yes” proposal safely through a tough editorial committee where only a few select book ideas can move on?

Well, they move on to the last gauntlet: PubCo. A Himalaya of a hurdle that makes all the others seem like speed bumps.

PubCo is where the editor presents a proposal to all the publishing company big wigs—VPs over sales, marketing, editorial, etcetera, etcetera, right up to the head honcho himself—who make the final decisions about what is published and what isn’t. Everybody important who can ax an author’s dream in two is there to, well, ax an author’s dream in two.

And lots get axed.

But a very short list of proposals live on to receive a beautiful, wonderful, exhilarating offer of publication.

Just getting a chance in PubCo is a huge deal, so the editor often informs an author’s agent before the meeting. The agent then gives an appropriately polite, diplomatically pleased response.

Then the agent tells the author, who gives this response: PUBCO!!!!???? REALLLLLLYYYY??? AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

And then the author and agent celebrate together because there just might be a contract coming at the end of that meeting.

In light of the months and months and months all this takes, I’m not even thinking about my proposals when my agent Karen calls me for a video chat three weeks after we’d pitched the books at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference (read the whole story here). Karen has this I-told-you-so grin on her face and informs me that the dog book is going to PubCo. Then she sits back and waits expectantly for my jubilant yell so we can celebrate together.

I frown at her. “PubCo? Why?”

Karen stares at me like I’m daft. “Because the editors love the book and want to publish it.” She has that make-the-slow-person-understand tone.

“Huh.” My grunt is half-studious, half-baffled. After all, the book has that fatal flaw (whatever it is). Surely it’s doomed to sayonara city.

Karen gives up on a normal response from me. I feel bad that I let her down, but my bewilderment is constipating my emotions.

A few weeks go by and I’ve forgotten all about PubCo. I mean, these meetings happen like once a month. Or maybe once a quarter for all I know. No telling when I’ll hear something back. Then I get a video call from Karen when we’re not even scheduled to meet. I have no clue why she’s calling.

When I answer, she’s grinning. “Hey there! We’ve got an offer on the dog book.”

I’d like to say I respond with appropriate hoopla.

“An offer? Why?” I’m genuinely puzzled.

Karen squints at me like she’s trying to see if my brain is still behind my eyeballs. “Because they love the book and think it’ll do very well for them.”

I give the same baffled grunt as before. “Huh.”

Now Karen looks like she’s going to launch herself right through my computer and slap me silly.

In my defense, I’d somehow totally missed the fact that this particular publisher had put out several collections of dog and animal stories.

Karen hadn’t missed that. Not only that, she knew we’d get interest from other publishers as well. And we did.

But here’s the kicker. In the process of providing some extra information that one particular publisher wanted, I SOLVED the fatal flaw problem, which apparently wasn’t fatal after all.

So there you have it. The dog book is not only publication worthy, it gets picked up before the fiction.

Who knew it had a chance?

Karen did.

But even before that, God knew.

He set my path in motion long ago, orchestrating my writing and my rewriting, my rejections and my encouragements until I have the right proposal at the right time at the right publishing company.

It’s funny how we can see these things in retrospect. How we can retrace paths we thought were fraught with dead ends and detours, only to see that they led exactly where we had to go.

Why do we always need hindsight to see how God was working all along?

Maybe it’s time for a new view. Foresight.

God’s got this all under control.

“The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.’” Isaiah 14:24

Enjoy the ride.

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