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The Pleasures and Perils of a New Book Contract

Signing a contract with a publisher for a new book fills an author with both exhilaration and apprehension. That’s precisely my mixed emotions as I write these words.


I have just signed and returned to the publisher, TouchPoint Publishing, the contract for my next book, tentatively titled COMBAT! Lessons on Spiritual Warfare from Military History.  I’m excited because I’ve proven to myself that more than one publishable book was within me and I’ve succeeded in finding the publisher willing to publish it. (I’m no longer a one-book wonder. I might become a two-book flop if this book doesn’t sell, but at least I’ll have had two books traditionally published. And not many people can say that.) I happen to think that I have even more books inside waiting to come out, but only time will tell. I’ll just take it one at a time for now!

I’m also excited because this book will be graced by the inclusion of several illustrations by a dear friend and former colleague from my days working for a major Christian textbook publisher. Preston Gravely and I worked together for eleven years, and he did a lot of art work for the American history textbooks on which I worked. He brings to his work years of experience not only as an artist but as both a gunnery technician aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Shangri-la and a field artillerist with the U.S. Army. In addition, he served in the Central and South America Command during Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm and was a chaplain with the North Carolina National Guard for a number of years.

Preston also plays the bagpipes (see https://www.independentmail.com/media/cinematic/gallery/88467138/faith-preston-gravely-bagpipes/). Calling himself “the Lord’s Piper,” he plays for funerals, parades, and other occasions. More importantly, he has been a faithful prayer warrior and encourager to me. If my book goes anywhere upon publication, its success will be due in great part to his contributions, both artistic and spiritual.


I know, however, from the experience of my first book’s publication (as well as the various books I’ve self-published), that the excitement I feel now will be as nothing when I finally hold in my hands the first copies of the actual book when they come from the press. I suppose it is akin to the joy and exhilaration a mother feels when she holds in her arms her new-born baby. (Well, maybe not quite like that.)


But that signed contract also brings some apprehensions. Before my book ever sees the light of day, there still is a lot of work to be done. All of the art work must be drawn and assembled. The photos must be obtained and assembled. The manuscript must be reviewed with a magnifying glass (figuratively speaking, of course) to ensure that everything is as it should be. (That means I’ll be reading with the manuscript in front of me, the Chicago Manual of Style at my right hand, and a dictionary at my left hand.) Then the entire package–manuscript, photos, and art work–must be assembled and delivered to the publisher. By the deadline. (But my mind repeatedly tells me, “If you deliver it on the deadline, it’s late!” I know from experience that I’ll pressure myself to deliver the package early. To be late would be equivalent to total failure in my mind.)

But the work (and apprehension) doesn’t end with the delivery of the package. As soon as the publisher sends me the galleys, I must proof them and compile the index, a task that I thoroughly detest but know must be done. Again by a stated deadline. That’s when I must go over the work with a microscope, not just a magnifying glass. That stage is the point at which I must catch any errors that have been missed or even introduced after I delivered the manuscript. It is my last chance to get it right. And yet, experience has taught me that no matter how many sets of eagle’s eyes go over the proofs, errors will find their way in. But I must do everything I humanly can to make their number as few as possible. And even at that, someone (probably my brother Dale!) will catch some error or omission that no one else has seen. And that worries me.

But all that is part of publishing. And the excitement and exhilaration that come with the end product far outweigh the worries and fears and apprehensions that inevitably come with the process. At least that’s what I think. And I pray that whoever honors me by reading the finished product will agree that all the work that goes into making this book was well worth their investment as readers. I’ll keep you posted on its progress.

How do you deal with your own excitement and apprehensions about the writing process? Share your thoughts with readers in the comment section below.

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