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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’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 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.

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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