The story of the elephant and the blind man is told in many religious traditions. Even business seminars have found value using it to make a point. As the story goes, depending on what part of an elephant a person touches without seeing the whole, that forms their opinion of what the entire animal looks like.
This same process could be applied to many things.
A customer’s one-time experience with one small part of a company gives them an impression of the entire company, right or wrong.
A visitor’s first-time experience with a church is something they carry with them for a long time, either positive or negative, accurate or not.
Opinions derived from first impressions or limited exposure are almost always incorrect or, at best, incomplete.
Using this same process to describe the publishing ecosystem is entirely proper. There are so many aspects to it, no one description is true of all publishers, except they all want to succeed at what they do. This is true for any part of it, even agents.
But yet, the entire industry can be mistakenly painted with the same paint brush and color after one or two negative encounters.
Did you know virtually every best-selling author experienced rejection many times over many years before someone saw something in them?
Did you know almost every proposal for a best-selling book was declined by multiple publishers before finding an editor and publisher who believed in it?
Remove the word “best-selling” from the above two sentences, and they are still accurate statements.
Agents also see things differently than one another, as we all have different backgrounds and preferences in the type of projects we represent.
If you are a published author or an aspiring one, try to learn as much as you can about publishing in all its facets and parts. But you will still never figure everything out with absolute certainty.
Don’t stop updating your knowledge about the industry. It is different today than it was even a couple years ago.
Don’t give up too quickly. Even if you never get a book published, you should be contributing written material to other written-word media. Books are not the only thing.
Don’t stop honing your craft and the depth of your Christian perspective. Many authors go back to school to get an additional degree in theology or in a specialty that will help them write more authoritatively.
If there’s one lesson to remember about all this, gleaned from all the proverbial elephants we confront in made-up dark places, it’s this: If you give up, stop trying, stop learning, and stop writing, while you will save yourself some momentary discomfort, later on you will regret being so easily discouraged and wished you would have persevered.
Publishing is hard. If it wasn’t, anyone could do it. It tests your patience and commitment. Whether or not you succeed to be published, the journey and process are worth it and will change you for the better.