Wednesday, January 27, 2010

But... it's my MINISTRY!!!!

In my last post, we talked about why we write. You all had some great answers... but I noticed that NONE of you said you write in order to make money. So, I conclude from this that you will all donate all profits from any books you sell to your charity of choice... How sweet of you!!!

*Grin* I know there are probably authors out there who do that, which is awesome, but the reality is, we all look forward our writing actually culminating in a paycheck SOMEDAY.

But then, how do we mesh the "business" that is the publishing industry with these great, noble dreams we have to make a difference? Ministry isn't a competition or a way to make money, right? It shouldn't be all about money, right? If God is truly calling us to do this noble and good thing, why does it feel like our hands are tied by the constraints of the system?

At my very first ACFW conference, I was sitting at the banquet next to a lady who was wearing a fellow "first timer" badge. I asked her how the conference went for her, and she wasn't too thrilled, I have to tell you.

Her complaint was that everyone seemed "in it for the money." A response from an agent was, "I don't think I can sell this, because there is not a big market for this." I have no idea what genre the woman wrote in, but my heart went out to her. She wanted to be obedient and use her talent for God, but the pesky business of making money got in the way.

Many first timers come to conferences, especially christian conferences, expecting it to be 100% on how to use your writing for God. Instead, they are about how to write better so you can get published, with a dash of ministry thrown in.

Geez, Louise! Us Christians are cut-throat aren't we! But the thing is, even Christians need to make money. There. I said it. (Watching for lightning to fall from the sky...)

If all Christians went into ministry and lived on the support of others (example of the wonderful, wonderful work of missionaries and full-time pastors) then... well... who would support us? The world is not going to fund our desire to spread the gospel to, um, them. As much as I believe that God CAN and WILL provide for us (the Bible says so very specifically) I just don't think He's in the business of counterfeiting money for his followers. (Although he does send money via Western Union in one of my novels... long story, you'll have to read it someday!)

Christians need to make money. We need Christian businessmen and women, not only to make money, but to be a light to the business world. Just like we need politicians, teachers, stay-at-home moms, nurses, doctors, vets, military personnel, who are Christians.

So, instead of lamenting against the system, we need to understand the system and appreciate it. If you can achieve your goal by printing off copies of your book and distributing it to church members, family, friends, people you meet in the grocery store, then by all means, skip the traditional publishing scene. You don't need it.

But if your goal requires your book to be available to the masses, and you want to be able to make a career of writing (be it full-time or part-time,) then prayerfully follow the steps (which are subject to opinion) for traditional publishing. Just know that God is bigger than all the "rules" and be obedient to HIM!

Just don't begrudge publishers/agents/editors their paycheck. They really DO deserve it too!

Discussion: Do you have frustrations with the "business" side of publishing? Does it feel like it gets in the way of your true writing goals? If so, how do you overcome it?

17 comments:

Tabitha Bird said...

:) Well, let me ammend my previous comments... I am in it for the money :) At least enough to keep doing what I love. At least enough to fund my way in this world. I agree with you and I am not quite sure why so many Christians seem afraid of money and success. Perhaps we have let the rest of the world taint the idea of money and success for us? Nothing wrong with money. It's motives and heart attitudes behind the gaining and using of it. So I am in it for a buck, just not a quick buck. Money just doesn't happen to be my driving force to write. That is probably why so many of us negated to say that we do hope to make some finical gain out of it at some point :)

Katie Ganshert said...

This is a great post, Krista. Not something I've really read about a whole lot. And to be honest, I'm so obsessed with getting my book published and out to the masses and being able to hold it in my hands and share it with others....I honestly don't think about the advance or the royalties very much. However, it's sort of an implied thing. Of course I'd love to make money as a writer. We pour our hearts and souls into it...how cool to recieve a paycheck as well.

sherrinda said...

Excellent post, Krista. I remember when my husband graduated from college and he accepted his first post as a preacher in Oklahoma. I asked him how much we would be making. (I say "we" because of the two-for-one-deal in ministry!) He said he didn't ask!!!!!! Seriously???? It was then that just how full of faith my husband really was. He knew we would make what the Lord had planned for us. He was led to that church and trust God with taking care of us financially. I think the same can be said for our writing. If the Lord is in our writing...if HE is the one enabling our craft...then He will be the one to sell our writing and then provide the money for it. It is all in His timing. We just have to have the faith to keep writing and producing words until He gets them into the right hands at the right time.

I'm going to be thinking about your post all day! Excellent!!!!

Krista Phillips said...

To make sure I'm clear, I'm not lamenting that no one brought up money. In fact, I think that's a GOOD thing. If you'll notice, I didn't mention money in my "reason to write" either.

WE all know that writer's aren't ridiculously wealthy people (unless you are a mega mega best seller) so if money is our driving force, we'd be hugely disappointed.

But if we're honest, it IS a small portion of the reason. We wouldn't be quite as gung ho about it all if there wasn't the lure of the potential paycheck. We'd still write, but it'd be different, ya know?

GREAT comments thus far! I was slightly nervous about this post, as it isn't something talked about a whole lot but it is something I see agents/publishing companies slammed with, "They're just in it for the money."

Well, DUH! They are running a business! *grin* I just wanted to point out that WE as authors are "in it for the money" most times as well:-)

Jessica said...

This is a really excellent post, Krista. I can't remember if I commented on the other one, but I'm definitely in this for career reasons. If I wasn't, why bother being published? *grin*
I feel bad for that lady too. At my first conference, I was pretty surprised to learn that people didn't expect the business side of things. It's never bothered me though.

Sarah Forgrave said...

As an accountant, I always have money in the back of my mind. But with writing, I think I've been so trained to hear, "You won't make a lot of money as a writer today," that I've accepted that fact and decided I have to write anyway. Money has factored into the next book I choose to write. Why write something that has no hope of selling in today's market when I have another story waiting in the wings that fits the market better?

Tamika: said...

Money is not an option. Sike!

As a christian I hold fast to my belief that God will make room for my gift. He will use my writing to bless others spiritually first and then in a tangible way as well.

Money is vital to every ministry. You need it to serve and be a blessing.

patti said...

Sigh.
Krista, I do hate the business side of "the business." Funny, absurd statement by me, isn't it?

You've done a great job of approaching this issue.

Always love reading your "Reflections."

Patti

Jill Kemerer said...

I don't feel frustrated by the business side of writing, because money is only a filter. Profits filter publishable works from others. If we didn't have that, every writer would be published, but not every book should be.

I, personally, want to be a good writer. And my first few books were not good! Money has to be earned.

Samantha Bennett said...

I like your moxy! While I don't really talk about it, I do dream of supporting myself via writing. I think a lot of writers pursuing publication harbor this goal. :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey, Krista!

I think the most frustrating thing for me is wanting to write at my own pace. I want to be able to keep writing/keep producing novels, but not at the expense of exclusivity to all over aspects of my life. One of my favorite writers produces one book every year-two years and I really respect him for that. As much as I'd love more stories from him, I love that he isn't caught in the money demands of rapidly producing more.

Terri Tiffany said...

Good that you brought this up! We sometimes think it is wrong to say we want to earn money and that idea is WRONG! When I was in ministry with a bookstore, I needed to make money to run the place!! I needed to make money to keep me fed and be able to own the store!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Publishers have expenses like the rest of us. We grouse about what we spend on paper, ink, and other supplies. Think of all the paper and ink they use.

Their employees won't work for free. They have families to support.

I once heard a statistic from an agent that it costs $100,000 to produce a children's picture book. With that kind of investment, they must make sure there's a market for the product.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Angela Breidenbach said...

Excellent post. I get so tired of people thinking Christians should subsist on air. It's not right to expect free service just because someone knows how to do something. I volunteer using my gifts a LOT! But I am always so appreciative when I'm not expected to constantly give away for free what brings in the money to buy groceries and pay bills.

No, earning money is not a sin. But I do think taking advantage of someone is.

I appreciate it when the practical side of life is understood. Yes, we all still have to work. A workman is due his wage.

Thanks for blogging about it,
Angie Breidenbach
http://www.MyGemOfWisdom.com

Karen Lange said...

Good post! This is an interesting topic, and one best approached with a big dose of balance. Most of us do need to make a living, but want to bless others and do what we are called to do. The reality of the industry is that it has to make money in order to continue. So where does that all mesh? Glad the Lord gives us wisdom when we ask:0

Thanks for sharing.
Blessings,
Karen

Kaye Dacus said...

Here's how "making money" with writing by getting published works.

Let's say you spend three years writing and then perfecting your first book (and marketing it and pitching it and going to conferences, etc.). And--YAY!--it's acquired by a publishing house and they offer you a $7,000 advance. Whoopie! Money! Lots of money!

But wait . . . If you spent twenty hours a week, on average, working on your novel for those three years, that amounts to 3,120 hours. So now you've made $2.24 per hour. Um . . . when I got my first job in 1988, minimum wage was $3.35.

Okay, so the second book in the series, also with a $7,000 advance only takes six months to write (because, well, you're on deadline now). You work 40 hours a week to get it written. You're now making $6.73 per hour. Unless you live in a state which has a minimum wage lower than the national min. wage in the U.S., you're making $1.02 per hour less than the minimum wage.

Yes, if your book earns out the advance (at 10% of the actual cost each book sells for) and you start earning royalties, your average hourly "wage" goes up. But if you write two books a year and they just break even, that's $14,000 annually you're earning (and then you have to pay through the nose when it comes to tax time, especially if it's your only job--because you're hit with all of the self-employment taxes).

That's why I am a "full-time" author and a "three-quarter time" freelance editor.

Cassandra Frear said...

You make some very good points here. There is a practical side to writing. Each writer has to decide where desire for influence intersects with business.