Monday, March 5, 2012

Royalty Statements and the Profound Disillusionment That Follows

So I got my royalty statement the other day. I never know exactly why I look so forward to receiving it. Mostly, it's a downer.

I study it thoroughly, pour over the pages trying to decipher the numbers, trying to make some sense of the final statement in the larger context of industry trends and buyer tendencies.

Then I mope around for days wondering why I get up at 4:30 am every day and pour so much of myself into my stories. I contemplate throwing in the towel, finding another outlet for the creative itch that constantly gnaws at my insides.

Then the fear comes. The voice that taunts and says my publisher will disown me forever, cancel the rest of the contract and cast me into the wilderness where all the other once-were writers wander aimlessly mumbling indecipherable prose. I fear my agent will snicker and wish he'd never wasted the time on me.

They're never what I want them to be, the numbers, never enough . . . or so it seems. I have high expectations for myself, for my stories. And reality isn't cooperating.

This time around I turned to a friend to help me make some sense of my disappointment. Another writer, surely he will wallow in self-pity with me. Give company to my misery.

But I was wrong. While he understood and has travelled the same path many times, he pointed me toward the light. He reminded me why I write, why most of us write; he told me ultimately it isn't about the numbers, isn't about the contracts and best-seller lists. It's about Him, writing for God, serving God, and being used of God. It's about plugging on when the road ahead looks bumpy and dim; it's about doing what God has called us to do regardless of the perceived success or not.

Friends are like that. They tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They put their arm around you when you need it or give you a swift kick in the seat when you need it.

I've said this many times and in my heart I mean it: If only one person reads my book and is touched by it or moved to change or challenged or encouraged then it has all been worth it.

I still mean that. Sometimes I just need to remind my head what the agenda is.


Greg Mitchell said...

A timely post, indeed. I, too, dread the royalty statement and have had all those exact same thoughts!

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

I can relate, Mike. When I opened my royalty statement this time, my gut dropped to my toes. The WORST ever. I do feel like quitting -- and in the midst of settling my mom's estate (she died a couple of weeks ago), the emotion of sadness is compounded. I wonder, "Where am I going wrong?" But I like where your blog post ended -- with the Light. :)

Bruce Hennigan said...

Royalty payment? We're supposed to get a royalty payment?

Sorry, if you don't laugh you cry. When I co-authored "Conquering Depression" and it was released in 2001 I had visions of appearances on talk shows and news shows as the expert on depression. I imagined large royalty checks that allowed me to quite my day job write for a living.

Hasn't happened. Although I still get a small check twice a year 11 years later. But, the emails I get, even now, that talk about how the book "saved my life" or "helped me understand my wife's depression" made all the difference in the world.

It's tough and if YOU get a small royalty check, Mike, I'm not even bothering to look for one!!!

Jillian Kent said...

You should have written this sooner, me being a newbie and all. :) I'd like to make money, encourage readers, make my publisher smile, and keep writing. I'm so glad to be in good company. Did I say I'd like to make money? Lot's of it!

I love writing. It's not easy and I'm slow as molasses. And even though I'm a counselor I still haven't figured out how to balance my daily routine.

We are writing during really rotten economic times. I think that's amazing. We are amazing! Really! We have contracts that other writers would love.

Jesus puts up with me. That's amazing! And if it weren't for HIM I wouldn't be doing this. He picked me up and pointed me in this direction so I'll stay on it for as long as I can, which as long as HE wants me too.

Bruce, I had/have visions of The Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. You know, "Secrets of the Heart," based on the novel by Jillian Kent. :)And no, I have not been drinking any alcohol, I only had 2 chocolate chip cookies.

Uh oh, I'm reminded of a quote by Norman Vincent Peale, "Be interesting, be enthusiastic... and don't talk too much.
Norman Vincent Peale

Have a great week!