The Royalty Check Is In the Mail … or Not!

Birthing a book isn’t easy.

Like human conception, it has its moments of pleasure. But then the work and the worry arrive.

Out of the box doesn’t mean into the reader’s hands.

“Award-winning author and good friend Susan May Warren motivated me first through shock therapy. She perused my literary firstborn’s opening chapter, marked it up in red, and sent it back to me with a lot of words of which I remember only one—‘potential.’ Loosely translated, she said, ‘Maybe your baby won’t be so ugly when she grows up.’”

That line can be found in the acknowledgements at the back of my recently released novel, Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes. And it summarizes the angst I’ve gone through.

I’m great.

I’m awful.


Such a clod.

Love this.

This sucks.

Last week, on the same day, I got bad news followed by good (I suppose that’s the order I’d prefer but the bad news still discouraged me).

Let me start with the good. Critique partner, friend, and fellow author Linda Rondeau posted an excellent review of my novel on Amazon. Ellen saw it in the evening and read it to me. Linda’s words re-inflated my deflated soul.

Why deflated?

Because of the earlier bad news (only because I’d had high I’ve-won-the-lottery expectations). I’d received my book sales report for the first quarter and discovered that initial royalty check will have to wait a little longer to be mailed. My portion from the book’s sales hadn’t met the minimum requirement (my lovely and practical wife said, “They just don’t cut checks that small”—sigh!).

Big-time bummed!

I don’t write this so ya’ll can feel sorry for me (or even to promote a huge run on sales—although, if you want to … ). Here’s the takeaway from one night’s mixed message of I’m great … no I suck …

Crisis and bad news tend to sharpen focus.

First of all, I got the solid dose of reality every person gets slapped with from time to time. Sometimes that slap comes from a conversation with a doctor. Sometimes it comes from filling out tax forms. Sometimes it comes in a heated argument with a friend. For me, it came through a sales report.

Second, I weighed my options, which were pretty simple—quit or stick with it. Choosing to continue when you’re doing well is easy. When you cruise through your life, you don’t ponder deeper questions.

Crisis has a tendency to dump you then direct you.

What do I mean by dump then direct? Simply this. Picture your life loaded in a wheelbarrow, then the wheelbarrow tips over. What happens? Your life gets dumped. When we get bad news, what happens emotionally? We get down in the dumps (I know, I know, oh, so cliché).

Crisis then moves us into decision-making mode. We have new decisions to make—get up or stay down; i.e. quit or stick with it—the choices to which give direction to our lives.

I can no longer take writing a novel and making loads of money for granted. I have to make some choices, the first being will I continue to write.

In a recent post I read, the author (and I wish I could remember who wrote this to give the person his or her due) shared two things a person needs for success—passion and practice. Bad news often raises questions related to passion.

Do I love to write?

Would I do it for free?

What if the whole world ignores what I do, would I still write?

Am I writing for the money, the affirmation, or because I have a passion for it?

To be honest, I know I need encouragement. We all do. To never have any response to my writing, well … I’d be disheartened (yeah, like bury-me-in-the-ground-already disheartened).

On the other hand, thanks to this crisis, I know the answer to the first question. Yes, I love to write. I also know, for me, the order of importance of the last question. First is passion then affirmation then money. The latter isn’t the reason I write. It just opens up future opportunities—ones, like that first royalty check, I’ll just have to wait on.

So, after a startling dose of reality, I’m back at what I love to do. Writing!

I’m curious. What has made you recheck your priorities in recent days?

You can find my novel, Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes, at:

WestBow Press

Barnes & Noble

“Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes” meets my friend Cassandra at Fuel, a coffee shop in Llano, Texas.

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About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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9 Responses to The Royalty Check Is In the Mail … or Not!

  1. cherigregory says:

    Tom —

    The passion and practice thing sounds like Jeff Goins. But I could be imagining that.

    I was waiting ’til school is out to buy and read your book. But it’s now on my Kindle, and I’m heading to my favorite chair to start reading!



    • tnealtarver says:

      I thought the quote came from Jeff Goins but I couldn’t track it down on his blog. I know I read it recently and I associated it with him.
      Hey, I also appreciate the Kindle nod. Hope you enjoy the story.

  2. Kari Scare says:

    The impending divorces of two couples… all friends of ours and with each other… Have caused me to rethink priorities. After God, my husband is my priority, then my kids. Writing is mixed all up in that since it’s how I process life.

  3. tnealtarver says:

    That’s always a tough one–friends going through divorce. And it opens your eyes up to seeing your own marriage and where it ranks among your priorities. My heart and prayers go out to you and your friends.

    • My marriage is actually stronger because of this (19 years today, actually). Thank you for the prayers. I still believe a miracle can happen. God is in the business of restoring relationships.

      • tnealtarver says:

        Happy anniversary, Kari. On our 20th, Ellen and I went to NYC and had a wonderful time. That was 9 years ago this summer. I love our anniversary because it’s filled with marvelous markers/memories in celebration of our life together. New York City is just one of them. I hope you have time celebrate and enjoy as well.

      • We are going to Traverse City this weekend. My husband is running a marathon on Saturday, and we are spending the rest of the weekend just hanging out together. For our 20th, we are talking about something more substantial, but we’re not sure what yet. This year was our best yet, and I am finally truly appreciating these markers as a way to celebrate the memories.

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