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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My First Advance!

Yesterday, my first advance check arrived in the mail (see photo) along with a copy of my contract signed by the publisher. Woo-hoo! It's official now. We are moving forward with the novel. The publisher has the book's Word file, and production should begin soon. According to the contract, the publisher guarantees that the novel will be on store shelves within one year from now. (If the novel is not available at your bookstore, you will be able to order it from any bookstore in the country.) The first stage, I'm told, is the revisions stage. Editors will look through my manuscript and request revisions for parts they feel need to be improved. These revisions, I'm told, are standard and expected. (I've heard horror stories from others about this stage, but I'm planning to remain optimistic.) At this point, I have no idea how "major" the revisions will be. We'll see. But I do welcome the input of other editors to make the novel even better.

I hesitate to say how much my advance check is (I will get two of them: one after the contract signing and one after all book revisions are completed), but I will say this: I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon, and I don't say that as a complaint. Frankly, as I recently told another published author, just to see my book in print with my name on the cover will be payment enough. I spent more than five years on this project. I wrote during a lot of evenings after a full day of work and during a lot of Saturdays and Sunday afternoons when most people are having fun. (Of course, to me, writing stories is "fun," but that's another story.) To see my novel published is a major milestone for me personally and the fulfillment of a dream God planted in my heart when I was a child. Frankly, to get paid advances and royalty checks is like icing on the cake.

But let me say a word or two about the reality of advances in an effort to educate readers. (I'm learning a lot I didn't know before.) First-time authors are a big risk to publishers, who spend up to $50,000 to print and promote each book they produce. First and foremost, they want the novel to be successful so they can pay their bills. Hopefully after paying their bills, they will make some money, too. After all, publishing is business, and profit is what keeps businesses running. Both the publisher and I want the book to sell well. I want it to sell well so I can spend more time writing and so the publisher will want to publish my next novel (more on that later). That success doesn't happen automatically. It takes a lot of work. I did a lot of work over the last five years. Now the publisher and I will do a lot of work together to take the novel to the next level and to make it even better. Obviously, the hope is that readers will like what we produce.

Here's more reality. There's a misconception "out there" that authors who publish a novel get rich overnight. I understand where this wrong idea comes from. We hear stories about John Grisham, Frank Peretti, and others who sign multimillion-dollar contracts for their novels and assume their experience characterizes the publishing industry. Don't we all wish! The hard truth is that of the hundreds of thousands of novelists out there (yes, there are a lot of them), few experience Grisham's success and sign multimillion-dollar book contracts. In fact, few are even able to write full-time. Most of us who publish a novel work a regular day job and will continue to work a regular day job long after the novel is published. I leave the novel's success in the Lord's hands. I've done my best, and that's all I can do. I would love to sell so many copies that my royalty checks allow me to write full-time, but there's no guarantee. In fact, the statistics are against me. Therefore, if you have aspirations to be a novelist, don't get starry-eyed and think you're going to be a millionaire. If money is your only motivation, I would challenge you to consider why you are writing in the first place. I write because that's what God has compelled me to do. If I can earn a living doing what I love, then that's even better. If not, then I will still be writing, even if I'm not able to do so full-time.

About John Grisham (by the way, I don't recommend all of his novels, though I have benefited as a writer by reading my share), let me shatter another myth. What many readers don't realize is that Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, didn't initially do well by publishing standards. In fact, it initially sold under 5,000 copies, and the publisher didn't feel the need to print more. To give Grisham credit, ATTK was his first novel, and nobody knew who he was. (That principle works the same way for the rest of us.) It wasn't until the success of The Firm and its movie version that he took off as an author, and then A Time to Kill was reprinted. People liked The Firm so much, they wanted to read Grisham's first novel, too. The rest is history. His novels are everywhere now.

What happened to Grisham illustrates another truth in publishing. If readers like an author's novel, they will want to read his other novel(s), too. All of that is to say that I hope my novel does well enough that my publisher will want to tackle the next project. And in no way am I trying to place myself in the company of Grisham. I don't flatter myself that my novel will do as well as his novels have. But I do hope that my first novel will sell well, as any author would. The bottom line, however, is that God is in control of a book's success. I can only do what God has called me to do (write) and to trust Him to do whatever He wills. But that doesn't mean that I don't need to be concerned about promoting the book. In fact, book promotion will be the topic of several future articles. Check back soon for another update in my publishing adventure. May God receive all the glory!


  1. Adam,

    I am so proud of you, your motivations, and your accomplishments.

    You're a wonderful writer and I'm very happy to count you among my friends.

    Your words are encouraging and your work is a blessing.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and dreams with so many of us.

    Kindest Regards,
    Tony G

  2. Christison ChroniclesOctober 16, 2007 at 11:28 AM

    Thank you for sharing how being an author is not an easy task...I had believed those misconceptions you spoke of actually...tee hee. I am so excited that things are progressing for you with your book!!! WOO HOO!!!

  3. Congratulations! I enjoyed this behind the scenes look at publishing.

  4. Adam,

    WCTS Radio in Minneapolis, MN does interviews of various Christian authors. To possibly set up an interview, e-mail once your book is published. Hopefully that helps!

  5. Thanks for the realistic insight into the world of writing, publishing, promoting, etc! I'm thrilled to see what God is allowing you to do, and know He is going to honor your efforts and your desire to use your skills for HIS glory!