Monday, December 29, 2008
However, since it's been so long since I posted, I wanted to share an idea I sent out over the ACFW loop. They asked what we were going to differently with our business plans:
One of the things I've begun to realize--and this is a duh!--is that I can't be everything I want to be. I've done a consistently good job of setting goals and making them in my writing life. Let me tell you, signing a contract definitely keeps that a high priority for me. On the house/family side of things, well ...
So here's what I came up with for next year. And it's husband approved! Each week, my husband will give a numbered rating of 1-3 to the following categories:
This will change on a week-to-week basis. Some weeks, he might come home to a spotless house, but an unshowered wife. Other weeks, we may play tons of family games, while the carpets collect fuzz. It should act as a barometer of what he needs the most.
I plan to focus on the highest priority areas first, but there will be weeks I CAN keep it all together. :-) Hopefully, this will maximize my minimal time, making a home he and the kids want to come to, without sacrificing any writing time. And leave me guilt-free because I'm not trying to live up to my expectations, but to his. Which, thankfully, are lower. ;-)
Monday, December 22, 2008
These first two are from a few days ago when we thought we had a lot of snow.
Poor Kevin had to park at the bottom of our LONG, STEEP driveway and walk up.
The snow grew heavy enough with a little rain that Andrea was able to make a snow woman.
Take another look at those pictures and the vehicles in the background.
I took this picture this afternoon. Our patio table and deck chairs make a cool, modern art statement. I call it Snow Flower.
This is our yard. There's about a foot of powder, then a one-inch-thick sheet of ice, and four inches of powder on top of that. We've tried to shovel off the trampoline, but it's saggier than the Saggy, Baggy Elephant. And see those cars to the right? Or don't see them? I can't believe the difference from the first pictures!
The view from our front door. There are three steps to get into the house. Truly, there are. That's another car completely covered in snow.
Andrea out in front of Mom's door. The vine has several birds perched on it.
Mom even got one happy little birdy to get on Andrea's finger. (Yes, it did eventually poop, as any bird that lands on a human must.) Later, when she took her hat off, several came and tried to make it a nest.
This was also taken a few days ago, but look at the view! I love the hazy hills through the snow, the flocked trees. How many people see this from their kitchen sink?
Kevin's been driving his four-wheel drive truck to work and back, but he has to park it at the neighbors. Before the snow got so deep, he was able to ferry things back and forth on our four-wheeler. Since the conditions are so impassable now, he must hike. Today he carried the Christmas ham plus other essential groceries for the holiday meals. At least we didn't force him to get the 10# bag of potatoes Mom needed!
If my count is right, today was the ninth day in a row that it snowed. Christmas doesn't look like it can happen here, because my grandparents CANNOT hike up through that much snow, so we might cart the whole meal and all the presents down the hill and take Christmas to them. Hey, why not take the whole tree as well!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Monday, November 3rd
Publisher B returns a counter to the counter. They agree to the lower advance I asked for and lower the percentages slightly. Everyone is happy with the deal, but we can't decide for sure until we see the offer from Publisher A.
My agent has emailed several times, even called and left a message, but there has no response from Publisher A. She emails them again, giving them until the close of the next business day to make the offer or we will automatically go with Pub. B.
(Anyone remember what November 4th was?)
Tuesday, Election Day
The nation continues to talk about change, about the huge decision America is making. I, too, consider it a Big Decision Day. :-)
There is no contact from Pub. A. I begin to think they didn't really want to make an offer and I feel slightly rejected ... UNTIL God reminds me that I didn't want to have to make a decision. For the last seven years, Mom and I have prayed that He will shut the doors to publishers that are not right and that the rejections will lead us to the one that is. Both Pub. A & B had rejected our writing in the past. Now God had brought me back to them with a new project.
I shake off any self-pity and thank God for directing my path so clearly.
Wednesday, November 5th
We confirm with Publisher B that we will sign a contract with them for Undiscovered. I try to comprehend the reality: Moody will publish my book! And pay me for the pleasure!
Friday, December 19, 2008
I struggled on my first book with a relatively low advance, based on what the industry often pays (according to my agent). But she very wisely counseled that it's better to take a lower advance, than one that's so high you can't earn out. I'm blessed that my first book is now in second print, and it has earned out it's advance. If I'd pushed for a lot higher advance, I'd have been losing sleep worrying they wouldn't want book 2, if book 1 didn't earn the advance. So there's something to be said for a low advance. If your book doesn't do super well, it's not such a huge deal. If it's does awesome, you'll have royalty checks coming in.
And that is exactly the point I wanted to make with this post. I'm not trying to get a book published to see my name in print. Instead, I desire a long, fruitful career of writing until I get so old I can't use my arthritic, feeble hands to peck out one more manuscript. And by fruitful, I mean not only making a helpful amount of money, but effecting the readers in a positive way concerning my Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, October 29th
So I make a decision: I ask my agent to counter with a lower number than she thinks fair. Career planning is key in this. I figure my break-even point to be around 5,000 books--which was wrong, but you'll have to stay tuned to see how I know that!--and though part of me wonders who could possibly want to buy a book by no-name Christina Berry, the number is within the possible range of a first time author.
Will Publisher B except the counter offer? Will Publisher A's offer finally arrive? Oooo, the suspense is killing you!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
At least the wait ended with good results ...
Monday, October 20th
I, the compulsive email checker, see the email from my agent mere minutes before she calls to tell me. Publisher B has made an offer! They spell out the advance and royalty breakdown in a short email. The numbers are higher than I expect, so I'm blown away when my agent suggests countering for more. More? Really? How can my book be worth that?* Also, my agent will contact Publisher A to see if their offer is ready.
I scream and jump, run downstairs to scream and jump with Mom and Dad, hug and kiss Kevin when he gets home, and struggle with not announcing it instantly on the ACFW loop and this blog.
Fortunately, my agent is going to the Glorieta conference and will see Editor A there.
Unfortunately, my agent is going to the Glorieta conference and will be without internet access for near to a week.
During her absence, I stumble upon (thank you, ACFW loop) a presentation by Terry Burns. He gathered many opinions on the current state of the publishing business.
One of the editors he posed the questions to "happens" to be Editor B, who says:
We do seem to be getting more conservative with our sales projections on various projects as the economy struggles. With that, we end up lowering the advances offered. I would advise authors to think about sharing the risk with the publishers a bit more. If the author really believes in his/her work and thinks they can help the publisher reach the market.
I ask in fear in trembling, What, dear God, should I do about this?
*This is nearing dangerous territory. Talking about advances is considered a major no-no in the industry. I used to wonder why. Shouldn't we have some idea of the monetary payoff years of effort could bring? For the record, I will not disclose the amount of my advance for two reasons:
1) To protect both you and me. For some reason, we humans tend to struggle with jealousy. What if my advance is more than yours? Does that make your book any less God's calling on your life? What if your advance is larger than mine? Are you more loved by God? It gets ridiculous pretty quickly.
2) To help pre-publisher authors avoid unrealistic expectations. Different-sized houses offer different-sized advances. The mere amount of money the publishing house can pay you is NOT a straight correlation to how much support they will give your book.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Friday & Saturday, October 18-19
So began the weekend of waiting. Publisher A might come in with their offer Monday and Publisher B might as well.
The doubts rush in. What if the people from Pub. A changed their minds? A verbal offer isn't legally binding. Maybe they'll never actually submit a written offer.
And what does it really mean I passed editorial at Pub. B? What an ego I have to think that translates into an offer!
Then ... what if BOTH companies make a written offer? How will I choose? Pub. A was the first to be willing to pay money--real American currency--for my story. I feel a tug of loyalty to them. But Pub. B has never published a book I haven't loved. Their fiction selection is more focused than Pub. B's. Maybe my book would be a better fit with them.
Wishy-washy. Back and forth. Scared of getting no offers. Scared of getting two offers. (Though willing to be fought over after nine years of rejection!) High with excitement, bracing for a low when something doesn't work out.
Finally, I put it in God's hands and ask Him to choose for me.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Here's some advice for any pre-pub writer who would like to post something like this series when you get your contract: write 'em as you go, save as drafts, and then post once a day when the contract is signed. Save yourself a LOT of guilt!
Friday, October 17th
I email back and forth with Editor B, explaining my great marketing plan. Just so happens that I was a featured author on Shoutlife that month, which didn't hurt my case, I'm sure.
My cousin Tomi--aka "Tomi is a girl's name"--emails me this verse:
Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5
My interpretation of how this applies to me at this time? My words will not be flawless, but the way God uses them in the hearts of others will be. Also, He will be my shield to protect me from the unfounded negative criticism I know to be the writer's life. Loving Father that He is, he will make sure the constructive, useful comments hit their target!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Speaking of critique ...
Tuesday, October 14
Mom and I show up for our regular critique, but there are balloons, flowers, and a cake. My dear Redeemed Writer sisters are throwing a surprise party to celebrate the offer for Undiscovered. The writing on the cake read Christina Berry Discovered!
The Disney Princess stuck in the cake has my face on it, with real thread hair flowing down it's back. Oh, the wonders of what creative minds can come up with!
Miriam and Kristen kept it secret from Mom, just in case our shared brain would also inform me. Miriam's four-year old took this picture.)
I know people struggle to find critique groups that:
~fit their writing
~don't turn into feel-good, pat-each-other-on-the-back clubs
~don't turn into trash and slash sessions
~encourage as they instruct
~like each other
~fit their schedule
I'm sure there are many other complaints, but these are the first that jump to mind. Okay, okay, we sometimes let a week or two slip by in our scheduling, but that's by mutual consent! On the whole, our critique group is a dream come true. Their feedback made Undiscovered a saleable project. I can remember one specific comment, written on the last page of the manuscript when we'd gone through the entire book, that said, "This one is going to sell!"
They believed in me, and I believe in them. I fully expect to see all of us publishing in the future.