After sixty-seven years of life, I’m just as convinced as ever that honesty is the best policy. But how much is enough–and how much is too much?
Case in point. I have a good friend who’s about seven years younger than me. He is really deep into theological studies and even attended two different seminaries in his younger days—without getting a degree.
He has a pet belief that everything else revolves around—or so it seems. I won’t try to explain it; I barely understand it. I’m not sure I agree with it, but I don’t consider it a vital issue. Certainly not the kind of thing that determines whether a person is truly a Christian.
He thinks it’s important, though. In fact, he wrote a book about it. I read parts of the manuscript, but just couldn’t get into it. Speaking as an English major who overcame that fact to become a published author, I clearly understand why no publishers have taken an interest in it.
The number of potential readers is very small. Not that many people will find it an interesting subject, much less a vital one. My friend doesn’t have a platform from which to “sell books at the back of the room.”
Unfortunately, serious theologians would probably view this manuscript as the work of an amateur. While I think that would be unfair, I couldn’t blame them.
And the problem I’m most hesitant to bring up is this: No matter how smart my friend is—no matter how many years of thought and prayer he’s invested in this manuscript—the writing isn’t top notch. And publishers won’t settle for anything less.
I’m taking a chance that he’ll never see this post. I doubt that he follows my blog.
So what’s my honesty problem?
He told me a couple of days ago that he plans to self-publish his manuscript.
Don’t get me wrong. A number of really good writers are turning to self-publishing now. But I know from my own experience with self-publishing that it’s apt to be a good way to lose money. Unless an author can sell his books—unless he’s willing and able to actively market them—he’s likely to end up with a box or two (or more) of books that do little more than prove he wrote a book.
I think my friend deserves to see his book in print. He needs that sense of fulfillment. I’ve committed to buying a copy. I don’t know how many people follow his blog or read those numerous messages he forwards, but some of them will buy copies, too. Nonetheless, I don’t see how he can hope to recoup his investment.
I attended a class about the ins and outs of self-publishing–it’s often referred to now as indie-publishing–some years ago. One thing that’s stuck in my head ever since is this: Don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose.
And He can’t afford to lose it. Not the first penny.
I love my friend. Tell me, please. How can I help him without bursting his bubble?
I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”
By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.
Because I’ve used up all of my songs, I revise and repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.