10 Truths I’ve Learned about Book Releases

Horse raceYes, the release date of my second suspense novel, The Tenth Plague, is  January 29, just four days away. This has been a lengthy journey but not one that takes God by surprise. I’m glad all things are beautiful in His time (Eccles. 3:11).

As I look back at the last few hectic months and years of balancing writing with work and family, I can’t help but reflect on some of the important truths I’ve learned through this whole experience. I hope this little pep talk is encouraging to you; it applies to so many areas of life.

1. It’s okay to feel good about completing a task.

“A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul” (Prov. 13:19 ESV). The finish line. Yes!

2. But every good task I do is a product of God’s grace in my life.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). I can do nothing good on my own. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Before I was even born, God planned that I would write and publish this novel (Rom. 8:29). What am I without Him?

3. Somewhere there’s a novel much better than mine.

That’s okay. This is my best effort right here, right now. Is it perfect? No. If I kept at it, there’s probably something I could have done better. That’s okay.

May I always be learning and growing and seeing how I can do better (Phil. 1:6), but I should never foolishly compare myself to others (2 Cor. 10:12). They are on their God-ordained path—I’m on mine. The measure of success is being obedient and doing the best I can for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). No one can do more than that.

4. Not one is as excited about a book release as the author.

In fact, not everyone I know is necessarily interested in my novel. Not everyone is in my target audience. That’s okay. While I consider my writing a ministry, getting publishing is like any business. You ply your wares and hope someone somewhere likes your product and buys it.

But my product may not be for everyone. Some people might even reject it. I shouldn’t be offended if not everyone I know is interested in my novel or is beating down the door to buy it. I shouldn’t let what others think rule my life (Prov. 29:25).

5. Pleasing God is more important than pleasing man. 

Putting your words before people you’ve never even met can be a sobering and nerve-wracking thought if you think about it. Naturally, I want everyone to like my novel, but not everyone will. I can’t please everyone, nor should I try.

None of this is really about me—it’s about glorifying God through His gift of creativity. Ultimately I’m also accountable to God for every word I write (Matt. 12:36).

I don’t believe there’s anything in my novel that would displease my Lord—that’s what counts. He’s more important. In fact, He’s my number-one audience (Col. 3:23). If I please the world but displease Him, then I’ve failed miserably. May the Lord receive the glory (1 Cor. 10:31).

6. The bottom line is that I can only do my best and then let go.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccles. 9:10). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

7. God is in control of who buys my book and how well the book sells.

I can only put my novel out there and do my share of blog tours, articles, and interviews. But when all is said and done, my times are in God’s hands (Ps. 31:15). He’s in control of whether the book succeeds or fails. I need to trust Him and His ultimate purpose.

8. I could never have reached this point without the help of a lot of people.

Publishing any book is a tremendously collaborative process. Thank you to God for redeeming me and putting me on this path. Here’s a big thank you to my wife and kids, who put up with me every day. Special thanks to the folks at Kregel Publications, where the novel began, and Kirkdale Press, where the novel found a home.

I would also like to thank the many friends, fellow authors, endorsers, and members of my promo team who encouraged me along the way (Gal. 6:2). (See the acknowledgments page in my new novel for the full list.) Without the help of so many people, I’d never be here.

9. It’s only a novel.

I need to keep the proper perspective. My books should never be idols in my life. They too will someday burn (2 Peter 3:10-14). They will vanish away. However, my message, if it’s grounded in God’s Word, will live on (Isa. 55:10-11). This’s why I believe in making suspense meaningful.

10. Whether more books are on the horizon is up to God and His plan for my life. 

I could talk about the next two or three novels I’m going to write and boast about how successful they will be, but frankly, that would be arrogance. As I learned from my father’s home going last year after his battle with brain cancer, we have no guarantee of tomorrow. (James 4:13-17).

I may not find a publisher. I may lose my job. I may have to sell my house and move. I may need to hang up writing for a while. Who knows what tomorrow may bring? In the meantime, I can only live and work hard for God each day, set goals, but leave the results in His hands.

Only one life
So soon it will pass
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
—Lanny Wolfe

Photo by Michael Miloserdoff, courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

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