Hitting the big time: first book royalties

Being an author of books is a labor of love for most of the authors in my peer group and genre. Here’s a little story from a traditional publishing perspective.

You get an advance—size depending on your publisher and their policies—and then spend anywhere from 6-12 months writing (with some degree of procrastinating). Then your editor scoops it up, and you two edit for another month to three months. This repeats with a second pass. Then, finally, you see a final proof and then spend a couple weeks or so combing over it for minor edits. You wait, secretly nervous and worried that said book is terrible.

When you’ve nearly forgotten that you wrote this beautiful and monstrous thing that doesn’t just live in Microsoft Word doc scratched up with a rainbow of tracked changes, it arrives, a REAL book that your publisher mails to you hot off the press. Advance copies go out to your hip homies.

Then people buy it. And keep buying it, for three years. You forget how much work it was because, hell, that was three years ago. Miraculously, your readers and all the purchases for their sons, daughters, sisters, dads, cousins, best friends, all those sales, finally chip away at the advance total your publisher paid you up front, which was supposed to sustain you for the 1.5-2 years you devoted to said book.

You get a check, a royalty check. Your first one (that got lost last year, but who cares), it’s finally here! Your elation lasts for about five minutes, at which point you feel worried that you’re not doing enough to keep this ball rolling. Not blogging enough, not mailing enough copies of the book to Ellen Degeneres or the Today Show, not singing and dancing enough to keep people from forgetting about your book and all the work you put into it.

Yes, this. All of this. I’ve been so very quiet lately because I’m working on another book (!) but feeling a bit stumped and stymied by a few realms of self-promotion that used to just be like talking to my peeps. I thank you for riding this little wave out with me, for being the people who still read a blog post without a recipe, or somehow manage to see a Facebook page post these days, or who have wrapped me into their instagram feed (where it seems like all my communications with the world live lately).

I look at this check and think only of you, the thousands of you who believed in me and continue to believe in me. I will put my nose back to the ground and keep at it. Because, despite the worries and bouts of block and insecurity, this is a fun job.

p.s. Hell if I know why I haven’t sent out a hip trick in forever. That’s also on my list to remedy. You can receive these (very) periodic emails with hip, helpful home or kitchen tips (and updates on my whereabouts for tours, classes, etc.) by signing up here.