What to Do When Something Is “Pretty Much Dead”

Jun 27, 2013 | Writing

Old Books TagEarlier this week, during an email correspondence with my good friend and fellow author Bonnie Latino, I asked about the status of her first book, which had done quite well since its release several months ago.

Amid other subjects, she addressed that question by replying, “Unfortunately, my book is pretty much dead.”

The following email was my response to her conclusion. I thought you might be interested…


I got your email the other day about the death of your book. I have been grieving ever since.

Then, this morning, I got out of bed after a long night of crying and asking God why…why, in His infinite wisdom and with all the power at His fingertips…why would He let your book die? I was yelling and pulling my hair. I think I was actually gnashing my teeth there for a while. Anyway, at the very moment I was looking for my sackcloth and ashes, God’s voice boomed throughout the room.

“Are you finished?” He asked. “After all the times I have shown up for you and Bonnie, after all the things I’ve done…this is a little much, don’t you think?”

I was stunned, as you might imagine. For some reason, God has never spoken to me very clearly when I was whining. But holy cow (Is that sacrilegious?), this time He was talking out loud!

“Is Bonnie dead?” God asked.

“No, sir,” I answered. “I don’t think so. I mean, at this very moment, how could I really know?”

“After all,” I said with a smile, “I’m not the one who is God.”

You know, I said that just to lighten Him up a bit, but sheesh…He seemed very serious. Holy mackerel (there I go again), the Big Guy didn’t think it was a bit funny.

He said, “You tell our friend Bonnie that her book is not dead unless she is. And tell her that if she will put a smile on her face and get back to work, I can make some pretty amazing things happen with her book even after she IS dead. Tell her I said to trust Me on that and I promise a good seat up here to watch all the action every quarter when her heirs get a royalty check.”

Then, Bonnie, as God is my witness (and He actually was) He just left. I immediately washed my hands and vacuumed the floor. (I had dropped my ashes when He spoke that first time. Between you and me, it is actually terrifying to hear that big voice. Not that He is terrifying…it’s just that the voice startled me and He never said “fear not” or “don’t be afraid” like the angels always seem to do when they appear. I’m telling you, He just popped right in and started talking!)

So…I think His point was…

Are YOU alive? Of course you are. Yes, you are!

Did God put that book in your heart? Yes, He did. Now, unfortunately, God is under no obligation to tell us what He is doing. However, God did not teach you to swim just to let you drown!

Was my first New York Times bestseller,The Traveler’s Gift, “pretty much dead” when 51 publishers turned it down?

Was The Traveler’s Gift “pretty much dead” when it got a horrible review from Publisher’s Weekly?

Was The Traveler’s Gift “pretty much dead” when, after three weeks in the bookstores, they returned all the books to the publisher?

Was The Traveler’s Gift “pretty much dead” when the publisher began sending them to outlet stores?

After all that, was my career as a writer “pretty much dead”?

Of course the answer to all these questions is NO.

God told me, “Do what you CAN do. I will handle the rest.” He said, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future!”

So…”Do what you CAN do”? What was that? Well…The Traveler’s Gift did not sell, so the only thing I could do was give the books away. And I did. One of them that I gave away was passed on to someone else. Then passed on to someone else. That person gave it to her friend, Robin Roberts, at Good Morning America and the rest, as they say, is history.

A postscript to this little story is what we did after this all occurred. Not being stupid, I continued to obey God’s original instruction to me. I kept giving the books away. In fact, I increased my rate of “giving.” To date, my accountant says that I have now given away more than 15,000 copies of The Traveler’s Gift…  God also continues to bless these efforts. After 10 years,The Traveler’s Gift is still in hardback, in almost 30 languages, and is used by corporations, schools, churches, prisons, and teams. The current Super Bowl Champions bought six cases of The Traveler’s Gift before their Championship season. The book has been called the Business Book of the Century. Yes, I know that it has been a very short century, but these are “okay” results (don’t ya think?) for a book that was deemed “pretty much dead.”

Obviously, it wasn’t dead and neither is Your Gift To Me by Bonnie Bartel Latino.


And get back to work!

Your friend,


Bonnie’s book is alive and well and can be found at Amazon (click here) for a very special price! I highly recommend it.

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