I have enjoyed a fair amount of success in my life, and yes, I have endured near devastating defeat. Regardless, I’ve always been able to stand up, brush myself off and keep moving forward. I always have hope of a bright future. I am constantly optimistic that success is coming, and because I have hope and optimism, I’m driven to be persistent in pursuit of my dream. I am rarely the smartest guy in the room, but I’m always the most persistent.
I have written often about hope, optimism and persistence. I believe these are the essential building blocks for health, happiness and prosperity. It doesn’t always take intelligence, education or IQ to succeed. Some of the unhappiest and least successful people I know are also the smartest. Although intelligence and education are important, they are not the be-all of success and happiness.
Hope, Optimism and Persistence.
I began writing a book in late 2002. My father had lived a fascinating life in baseball and war. He served in the Navy during the second World War and was a star baseball player, growing up in the rural coalmining town of Sesser, Illinois. I felt the story had a wide appeal and would be inspirational to readers. I was not a trained writer and in fact, had little experience writing anything, but I began.
After 14 months of pecking away on my laptop, I had a rough manuscript I was calling, “Playing with the Enemy” and I began sending copies out to publishers. I was certain they’d all jump at the chance to publish my book. However, the rejection letters began pouring in. One, two, three … 26 … 42 … 63 … 74 … yes, I was deeply disappointed, but not discouraged. I had hope that a publisher would say yes. I was optimistic that the next submission would be the one, but most importantly, I kept submitting my manuscript to publishers even though 74 had said no.
I submitted for the 75th time to a publisher that focused on military titles. This time, I didn’t only mail a copy as their submission guidelines instructed … I called their president, Theodore P. Savas.
Me: Hello Mr. Savas? My name is Gary Moore and I’m mailing a manuscript to you today that I know is a perfect fit for your publishing firm.
Savas: Give me your 10-second version.
Me: It’s about a young man’s journey through life in baseball and war.
Savas: Don’t bother mailing it. We don’t do sports books and we are not interested.
I put my manuscript in an envelope, addressed it and sent it to the man who had just abruptly said he wasn’t interested and hung up. Most people would think I’m crazy. I was just rejected and instructed not to send anything. Regardless, I was hopeful he would read it. I was optimistic that he would love it. I knew if I did not send it, I had zero chance he would publish it … so with enthusiasm, I rushed it to the post office. A 1 percent chance is better than no chance at all.
A few days later, I called Mr. Savas again.
Me: Mr. Savas? This is Gary Moore. I was calling to see … (interrupt)
Savas: I told you not to send it. We are not interested.
Me: I know, but I am confident when you read it, you will love it and … (interrupt)
Savas: I won’t read it. I don’t have time and we don’t publish sports books and … (interrupt)
Me: Right, and if this was a sports book, I never would have sent it, but …
Again, I was disappointed, but not discouraged. I logged on to the internet to find out who publisher No. 76 would be, but the truth is stranger than fiction! The next day, I received a call from the man who had hung up on me twice.
Savas: Do you have a publisher for this story?
Me: Yes ... you.
Savas: You know … I told you not to send it.
Me: I remember.
Savas: When you sent it anyway, I told you I would not read it.
Me: Yes, you did.
Savas: But last night … I took my son to karate class along with a handful of manuscripts I wanted to read. When I settled into the chair, I realized I accidentally grabbed yours. I wasn’t happy, but read it anyway … (long pause)
Me: (I stopped breathing.)
Savas: Congratulations. I’ll fax a contract to you later today.
Savas Beatie released my book in September 2006 and was heralded as a surprise hit!
Surprise? I wasn’t surprised. I remained hopeful and optimistic that it would be a bestseller. In 2008, Penguin, the worlds largest English language publisher, purchased the paperback rights and again, it was released and succeeded. Today, “Playing with the Enemy,” the book that was rejected 74 times is now in its 19th printing. It is read and taught in high schools all over America and is optioned as a motion picture. Since then, Savas Beatie has published two more of my books and I’ve become a freelance columnist appearing in 34 newspapers.
What would have happened if after 74 submissions … and after the 75th told me not to send it … what if I had just given up? Today, “Playing with the Enemy” would be gathering dust in a cabinet drawer, having never been published and the dream of my book would be dead … and I would not be in this newspaper.
What is the moral of this story?
Never give up on your dream.