The Thrill of Getting Published is Far Greater Than Actually Selling Any Books

Presentation1A couple weeks ago I received a royalty check from the publisher of my e-book, At Work as it is in Heaven. It wasn’t much – enough to buy a couple tanks of gas for my SUV. But the point is, there is now hard evidence that some wretched working souls somewhere on this lonely planet have actually punched their way through enough mouse clicks to actually purchase the thing.

We’re not talking about thousands of people, so calm down. But we can safely count in the hundreds, which I consider a miracle in and of itself.

Although, truthfully, I probably could have raised as much money with far less work by holding a bake sale.

But really, friends, it was never about the money – even though getting a surprise royalty check in the mail is great fun, if nothing more than to hear yourself while spreading out your arms in a great stretch and a casual yawn say to your friends, “Oh, yes, another royalty check arrived in the mail today.”

I had always dreamed of saying those words.

Those same friends hardly need to know, of course, that my daughter made as much from her last two babysitting gigs. Better to keep them guessing.

So thanks to the one hundred fans who “liked” my Facebook page, and to the ten people who reviewed my book on Amazon, especially to those complete strangers whom I did not ask ahead of time to write a review. And look, the e-book is currently ranked #316,115 on Amazon! Which is  not very good, if we are being honest. Certainly bordering on solid embarrassment. But hey, where’s your book on the Amazon ranking? Huh?

Some would say that I played the fool in this whole publishing scheme, that I could have doubled that royalty stash to the equivalent of four tanks of gas had I self-published rather than selling out to The Man (Patheos Publishing, in this case). But to be honest, I am far too lazy to figure out all that publishing rigamorole on my own. I have no idea how it works, to get something converted from a file in Microsoft Word to a digitally merchandised e-book on It all sounds so complicated and time-consuming and boring. So I let Patheos do all the grunt work, and they split the proceeds. So what.

Anyway, like I was saying, getting my great work published has little to do with the money. Like many other under-appreciated writers and bloggers, I was just happy to have the opportunity to get published, even in a digital format. To think, ordinary folks in Wisconsin and Sydney, and possibly even Antwerp, are reading my little contribution to society!

I imagine them on their morning commute into the office, coffee in one hand and i-pad in the other, lost in the stories with a satisfied grin on their faces as the train rumbles through the morning fog. The conductor announces the train’s arrival to the big city, and off they go into the crowds, perhaps walking now with a renewed spiritual boost, if ever so slight. Just something to keep them going another day.

And as they push through the glass doors of their building and walk past security to the elevator bank and push the button for the 40th floor, they are thinking: “That guy who I was just reading – he’s really not much different from me right now.”

And that would be true.

Or, another scenario could be they still haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

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About JBW

JBW is a business executive living and working in the Northeast USA.

  • Stephen Martin

    JB — I’ll tell you exactly where the e-version of my book is on the Amazon rankings: Trailing yours at 360,000 or perhaps somewhere farther south of that. Nevertheless, you’re right; publishing a book is a wonderful experience because of what you learn and the new friends you make. And I hope more and more folks hit the buy button on yours.

    • shrinkingthecamel

      Thanks Stephen – Hey, mine is has already dropped to 329,000, so I’m catching up to you.

  • Susan DiMickeles

    Yeah! I can totally relate. Let’s not talk about Amazon rankings. The point is, you did it. It’s not about the money and it never will be. There are much easier ways to earn money. (Don’t even let me multiply my hourly rate by the number of hours I write and blog — because it’s not a pretty number. But then again, maybe it shows me how I really value my time.)

    • shrinkingthecamel

      That’s a good way to look at it, Susan – We put a different value to the time we put into writing as opposed to what it is we do to earn money. Lucky that we can have both experiences, right?

  • Tammy

    I think it’s terrific that you did it. BTW – the speaking gig that goes with the book is where you make your $$$ and spread your great ideas even further. Have you drafted your repertoire of talks yet?

    • shrinkingthecamel

      Yeah, I have my talk ready. I’ve received two calls for speaking engagements from the book and neither materialized. Not that I’m losing sleep over it… :)

  • David @ Red Letter Believers

    Thank goodness we are friends not because of our fame or fortune.

    • shrinkingthecamel

      Wait – we aren’t? I thought you were… oh, forget it.

  • Loren Pinilis

    It’s funny, because you had the same thought as me. If anyone criticized me I would ask them how their book was doing, haha. So kudos. I hope some day to be published – but I’m not in a hurry.

    • shrinkingthecamel

      Best of luck with that, Loren. Remember, it’s about the BOOK DEAL, not the sales afterwards :)

  • nancy

    So having a manuscript published is a major thrill and selling books is a minor thrill? That sounds right to me. Because you want to be a writer, and not a book seller. I do wonder what would happen if you were to do some speaking? What do you think of Tammy’s suggestion?

    • shrinkingthecamel

      I am SO not a book seller. I don’t care enough about it.

  • David @ Red Letter Believers

    We tend to screw up our art with the financial reward. The two should be separated. It’s not about platform. It’s not about sales. It’s not about the market. It’s about the reward of the heart. This is such an important message that doesnt get shared enough with aspiring artists. I’m glad you pulled the veil off with such good cheer and honesty.