Ever since releasing my first traditionally published book with Moody back in August 2012, the number one question asked of me and my writing is, “Are you going to write another book?” It’s an interesting question because authors don’t simply choose to write a book or not, there’s plenty of other factors involved in publishing a book with a reputable organization.
The short answer to the question is simple: yes, someday I hope to write another book.
But not right now.
Behind the answer are two complex reasons.
1. Sales matter. Good books don’t always sell well.
I talked with a friend over a year ago who has published one book, and who happens to be well entrenched in the book publishing world. He has a great reputation. He has a graduate degree in writing. People love working with him. But his first published book did not sell well enough for any publisher to want to work with him for the time being. He said, “I’ll need to wait a decade to publish another book.”
I’m not sure my situation is the same, but it is similar. I feel good about the sales of Why Holiness Matters, and I’m indebted to so many of you who bought copies and encouraged others to do so as well. I’m proud of the book. But the sales are simply not strong enough for publishers to come knocking on my door.
Of course, I’ve yet to mention that people read differently today than they did 10 years ago. Book sales are changing. The target is moving. Philip Yancey recently lamented all these changes, saying the golden era of publishing is over. The internet and ebooks have forever changed the book publishing industry. No longer can you expect to make a living by writing books. Outside of a select few, it is not feasible.
2. Wisdom tells me not to publish.
Over a year ago Tim Keller encouraged pastors not to publish until the last 1/3 of their lifetime. Since then I’ve had numerous conversations on the subject. Originally I completely disagreed. If writing is an artform, publishing is part of the honing process, I believed. But I’ve changed my mind, for now (yes, that’s my hedging a bit, cause I waffle on things like this).
What Christian publishing needs is fewer books, of increasing quality, rather than the current situation where publishers will move forward with anyone who has the “platform” to support a book launch. This will never happen unless wise Christian men and women recognize that despite their ability to publish, they should not, for now.
I don’t like the way publishing a book influenced my soul. I was prepared for success. I desired it, dreamed of it. Maybe even more than I desired God to minister to me throughout the book writing process, I desired to put together a meaningful product. Never did I realize the idolatry within me as I focused on the product instead of obedience.
Age doesn’t necessarily grant wisdom, but it does provide perspective, the kind of perspective I didn’t have while writing. Keller’s advice, along with the thoughts of wise people around me, tells me that I don’t need to force the issue of publishing another book. The first opportunity fell into my lap through God’s timing, and I trust the next one will similarly.
In short, whenever I write another book I want it to be the kind of book I notice none of myself in, the kind of book that can’t help but minister to others, because it leaks of Jesus, and not of me. And until I’m at that place in life I’ll continue to hone my craft of writing in other ways.
Blessings to you and yours. Thanks for reading.