Well, the day has come, folks, the day every author dreads, but one almost every author faces sooner or later. It’s the day you get the letter in the mail from your publisher announcing with regret that they have decided to let your book go …
::screams of disbelief and terror::
Yes, I got “the letter” the other day. It’s been four years since Losing God hit the market, and, as they inevitably do with almost any book, sales have slowed to a point that it no longer makes sense for the publisher to maintain a stock in their warehouse. They’ll sell off the rest of the copies, meaning you will soon find my precious baby going for like three dollars in the budget bin, right alongside my other baby, When Answers Aren’t Enough.
If this day had come, say, two years ago, I would have been depressed for weeks, maybe longer. But I read the news on Saturday with a remarkable (for me) sense of peace and acceptance. Everything has a life span. Nothing is forever. We helped a lot of desperate people in the last four years, and that really is the point.
I will be profoundly grateful for life that God let me fulfill a dream of publishing–not once, but twice. I got to write the books I wanted to write, working with two great publishing houses wth excellent teams of people. And now that both Losing God and When Answers Aren’t Enough are out of print (though Answers remains availabe in ebook and audio form), I feel freer than ever to pursue other interests and topics. And there really are some advantages to losing Losing God.
1. The rights for the book will likely revert to me, which means I can finally pursue a digital version of Losing God that has been held up for four years because I quoted some song lyrics in the text that InterVarsity Press did not have digital rights for. I can revise the book, editing out those lyrics, and finally have that version for Kindle, Nook, etc., that I’ve wanted for so long.
2. Revising means I can also expand, including an update that is badly needed, which will fix one of the primary weaknesses of the book. Though I talk extensively in Losing God about the benefits of seeking medical help for depression, I never actually took medication for my depression until after the story of Losing God ends. The book was off to the printer in the summer of 2008; I went on 40mg of citalopram (generic for Celexa) in the fall of 2008. Nothing about my entirely positive experience with antidepressants made it into the book. I can fix that now. I can also address questions regarding the possible effect my growing awareness I was gay may have had on my depression, since I wasn’t out and did not mention my being gay in the book. In truth, I don’t think homosexuality had much at all to do with why I was depressed, but the topic is worth exploring in a revision of the book.
3. In re-releasing Losing God as an ebook, I’ll be able to offer a less expensive and immediately obtainable resource for people who are hurting. If you have an e-reader, for a few bucks you’ll have instant access to the book. No ordering. No shipping. No waiting for the book to come in the mail. And I do believe ebooks are the eventual future of publishing. It’ll take a while for the industry to get there completely, but already I find myself avoiding books that aren’t available for Kindle, and I swore I’d never give up the delightful feel and smell of a new book. I suspect I am far from alone.
And then what? I really don’t know. People have asked if I’m working on anything new. Nothing definite. I do have an idea for a book that I’m excited about exploring. It would be very, very different than either of my existing books. In fact, it would be different from anything I’ve written, period. We’ll see. One thing I learned from publishing two books is that the real joy for me is not in the publishing part of it all. (I had a then-perplexing, almost total non-reaction when the first copies of both books arrived in the mail. I would have thought I’d have been ecstatic.) The fun for me is in the writing, in the communicating. It’s in simply laying out an idea and having someone read and engage that idea. Where that happens–in a book or just on my blog–is not so important to me. I don’t think I would handle fame well, so I’m not looking to have a bestseller (although, dang, the money would be nice.)
So, we’ll see. For now, stay tuned for updates on a possible ebook version of Losing God.