Christian publishing professionals want to honor God with success. Sometimes God grants recognition quickly. Other times, He does not. And since Christians are human, it’s hard not to be a little jealous of acclaimed authors.
But what about success? Are you ready for it?
Here are just a few concerns I’ve seen from various published authors:
1.) I’m nervous about my advance. What if I don’t earn out? Steve Laube wrote a post called The Myth of the Unearned Advance. Do publishers make mistakes and give some authors advances that are too large? Yes, but earning out is likely because publishers know how to calculate their expenses and estimate expected sales of a book. If you do earn a big advance, don’t spend it all at once. In other words don’t act as if the windfall income will be normal and consistent. Careful planning of your finances is always prudent.
2.) Some people who were my friends when I was struggling don’t seem to be as friendly now. It’s easy to cry on each others’ shoulders when everyone’s unpublished but everything changes when someone in your group finds success. Bottom line: If your talent is spotted before your friends’, be a good mentor and support for them. If you are slow to be recognized while your friends sail by you, re-read this article for an idea of what they may be facing. Continue to support them and learn from being associated with a published author.
3.) I have a deadline. And here come the final proofs, which are due on Monday. And I have to write three articles for my blog tour. And… Be ready for a packed schedule. It happens to every successful author. Book deadlines will change your life for the better, but meeting them will be an adjustment. Plan out your schedule and otherwise be prepared to adjust your life accordingly.
4.) The edits are much, much more intense than I thought they would be. I think I’m going to cry. Go ahead. Cry. Then get to work. Your editor and publisher is partnering with you. Be grateful they care enough to make your book the best it can be.
5.) The edits on Book 1 have caused rewrites on most of Book 2 and Book 3. This is taking much more time than I thought. Will I have to ask for a deadline extension on my next book? And will that have a domino effect on the other books? You won’t be the first or last author to have this happen. Don’t worry. Since the editor has seen the requested changes, she shouldn’t be surprised when you ask for the extension. But if you can meet your deadlines, by all means do so, and with your best work.
6.) What if I fail? Put in your best effort at all times. Then if your book does fail, you will know it’s not because you didn’t make your best effort. Spend no time on regrets. Instead, plan with your agent on how to move forward. With God, nothing is impossible.
What makes you most nervous about the prospect of success?
What are some other issues you’ve seen published writers face? What was the solution?
What tips would you offer a successful author?
Great, insightful article, Karen. It’s nice to hear that all these expectations and concerns are normal. Lol!
Oh, Tamela, great article. I saw it on FB and thought it was from Karen. 😀
Tamela Hancock Murray
Naomi, it’s a compliment to be compared to Karen. I’m glad you like the article!
Tamela, So much good advice, all of it true (unfortunately). Then again, readers of this blog should remember that having these problems means you have a book contract. That puts you in a nice group, problems and all. Thanks for sharing.
Good reminder, Richard. If someone is dealing with these issues it’s because s/he has a contract. 🙂 Remembering the big picture is helpful.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Great point, Richard!
Definitely the deadlines and revisions that make me queasy when I think about it. For so long I’ve revised and rewritten on my time. I try to take careful thought on each line I write. So I fear that the feeling of being rushed will get to me – BUT I work best under pressure 🙂
Thankfully, I have a husband who is very supportive and will take care of things when it means getting down to business. And my circle of amazing author friends have been an incredible crutch to lean on when I’m feeling slightly discouraged.
It’s so wonderful to be surrounded by positive people and attitudes. Thanks for today’s post. It was very insightful and encouraging. Always enjoy reading the blog.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Rachel, once you get your contract, then you can decide how to tackle your work. Once you get your mind set on how you will approach meeting your deadline, stick to it. No doubt you will do wonderfully!
Thank you, Tamela. I’ll remember that advice.
Patti Jo Moore
Great post, Tamela–thank you. 🙂 I have to say that I’m gaining so much insight from this blog in general, and appreciate each of you agents taking time to keep writers informed.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Patti Jo, thank you for being a faithful reader. We’d be standing in an empty chamber hearing echoes without people like you!
Thanks for this, Tamela. I appreciate how you made each point “do-able.” I have heard author friends worry about earning out their advances. The reminder that publishers consider those advances carefully before offering them, is reassuring.
The thing that makes me nervous about the prospect of success is the tight deadlines and learning how to navigate those while living real life with my family. Hubby and kids are already supportive, so that will help. How do you encourage your clients in this regard?
Tamela Hancock Murray
Jeanne, you are off to a great start by letting your family in on your goals and dreams so they are taking the journey with you. Then, once the euphoria of signing a new contract wears off and the real work begins, they won’t be surprised when you shut yourself in your office for extended periods of time.
The best thing to do when you are contemplating a new contract is to sit down and look at your schedule. Are you planning a week-long family reunion? Are you in charge of a big project at church? Is every weekend taken up with family activities? Budget for those realities when thinking about deadlines. Also allow for emergencies. Even with this amount of planning, sometimes events get in the way and you still have to ask for an extension. As I said in the post, it’s not impossible to deal with. And of course, there’s a difference between the chronically late author and the author in rare need. Bottom line: I think it’s better to be honest with any editor — and your agent — up front rather than setting up a deadline you really can’t meet.
The fact that you posed the question means you should be an ace at meeting all your deadlines!
My exact question, Jeanne. But having everyone in the family dedicated to success helps.
Thank you, Tamela, for such a thorough answer.
Tamela, thank you for your practical advice. I appreciate it!
Thank you for this informative article. I’ve heard my writer friends mostly voice concern regarding tight deadlines. But somehow they always make it. Sure, its meant late nights, take out and most importantly the support of a family. While I haven’t experienced this exact problem (Not yet anyway) I think I would handle it with a lot of prayer. When I’ve been under deadlines and impossible time constraints, I’ve seen God work miracles with my time.
Thank you for you being faithful with this blog. I learn so much.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Tamela, thanks for your posts. They’re always helpful. When I first started writing years ago, I was afraid of failure. Then at some point, the fear of success took charge. God has given me a small taste of both, including facing those deadlines…and handling those multiple rejects. But the love and passion to write overcame both. I love Churchill’s simple advice: “Never, never, never give up.” And you’re right, Wendy. God does work miracles with our time when we give Him first place. It’s like He takes over our fingers, our heart, and our brains. Even when things move slower than I like, I am always learning God’s timing is perfect. And setting reasonable goals help. I have done a couple of rare all nighters–when a book was due the next morning, and about 2:00 a.m. I discovered the book was shy two chapters. God is so faithful! That’s my best tip–and my life motto!
I spoke with a published friend earlier this week about this topic! We discussed balance during the process. She does not like the *business* side of being published (all the social self promoting) and just wants to write. Don’t we all! But she knows that growing her audience is key and crucial so with her fourth book coming out soon she finally found the balance to her priorities and is sticking by the list.
Also, she said that the more you learn about the writing craft and the process of getting through the editing the easier the more confident she became and those deadlines were met with less fear. I can see that. Discipline and finding the balance that works for the individual was her theme.
This has been quite an encouraging week! Thank you all 🙂
Janet Ann Collins
About point #2: Many years ago I’d been published in periodicals but was afraid if another member of our critique group got a book published before I did I’d be jealous. How would I deal with that? But when it did happen and the member’s book went on to win a Christie award I was delighted. I felt like a proud mama whose kid gets straight A’s. Because our group did support each other we’re still friends years later even though many of us have moved away and the group doesn’t exist anymore.
As others have mentioned, deadlines make me nervous. Since I’m not published yet, I have the time to lollygag through the story building process on occasion. Deadlines would demand more of a sprint.
Timely solid information I needed to consider and hear. Thank you Tamela. Its the process we (I) most often wonder about and how to make or bring it all together. Thank you very much for the peek inside the window of changes.
When I began stressing over my marketing plan the other day, a good friend told me to stop worrying about making the New York Times Best Seller List. “Just concentrate for now on the Shelbina BestSeller List.” Shelbina is the “big town” in our community. Population 1700.
AH HA HA!! “Go ahead, cry, then get to work”. I loved that. Made me literally LOL. Great advice too 🙂
Great help to us looking for that success. We’ve heard about the rewrites and marketing we’ll be required to do, but this gives a much clearer picture. And it shows us how someone might feel on either side of that equation. Thanks!