I JUST GOT BACK from my neighborhood UPS Store.
A Kingston 64 GB flash drive the size of a baby kitten’s tongue is on its way to an editor. That sliver of metal holds the last nine months of my work.
I beat the deadline by 3½ months, which I’ve heard is a bit abnormal for Bible reference book writers. But most Bible reference book writers didn’t start out as newspaper journalists. If I missed a deadline back then, the story didn’t run. By the next day it would have been old news.
I remember once after covering a fatal house fire in which some children were killed, I had rushed back to the newsroom just a few minutes before the deadline. As I started to write the story from my scribbled notes, the editor came over and stood behind me – reading as I typed. Then the publisher came.
The two top dogs of the newspaper were reading me over both of my shoulders just a few minutes before deadline. It was a wrenching story of a brother going back into a burning house to bring out his asthmatic brother; both boys died. I had just come from talking with the family. That’s what kept me so long.
I still remember thinking as I typed, “Concentrate. Concentrate.”
The editor and publisher weren’t being impolite. They were trying to decide where the story belonged in the paper. They put it on the front page. I can’t remember if it became the lead story for the day.
I do remember that after I submitted the story, the Associated Press picked it up.
I’ve taken deadlines seriously throughout my career. When I became an editor I had to deal with writers who often missed their deadlines. One of my favorite writers was habitually three months late on an annual project I edited. I felt that he was too good of a researcher and writer to fire, so I gave him a deadline three months ahead of the deadline I gave everyone else. It worked.
One writer was so late I had to fire him, send him a kill fee (partial payment as a courtesy), and then write his stuff myself. He called me to yell. Like that would change anything.
Several years later, after I moved on to become a full-time freelance writer, the organization I had left hired him as a lead editor.
I imagine the gentleman experienced some karma along the way.
In a few weeks I’ll be flying out to meet with the editor and the publishing team working on the book I just submitted. We’ll talk about it, I’m fairly sure. And I suspect we’ll talk about book ideas we’ve been brainstorming over the past few months.
With the book off my desk, you’d think I’d breathe a sigh of relief. Actually, a wave of worry washes over me every time I send a book on its way.
For one, the editor might not like what I’ve done. It has happened.
For another, I might not like what the editor does – or the designer. It has happened.
Every book’s a gamble. In this case, I’ve gambled nine months of my life. That’s how long it took me to write it.
We’ll see what happens. Life is an adventure, isn’t it?
For more about life as a Christian writer
- Day in the life: Bible reference writer
- My most persistent battle as a Christian writer
- What writers do when the book arrives
5 free books
Here’s the deal.
If you have access to a copy of my newest book, A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible, and starting today if you are one of the first five to write a short review of it on Amazon, I’ll send a free signed copy of the book to anyone you ask me to…yourself included.
Congrats on the latest book, Steve!
For writers, finishing a book is like Sherlock Holmes wrapping up a case. On the one hand, there’s a great feeling of accomplishment in having finished. On the other, being between assignments can leave you feeling anxious and crazy. The only thing worse than being overwhelmed with your work is having no work to do.
Onward to the next project, my friend! The game is afoot!
Stephen M. Miller
You’re right. I’ll write.
Just wondering…how many books to date have you written, and do you work on more than one at a time?
Stephen M. Miller
Hi, Debbie. I don’t know how many I’ve written. There’s a partial list on my website: https://stephenmillerb.wpengine.com/about-steve/
Part of the problem in counting is that I’ve created a lot of books with my name on the cover as editor. But I hired teams of writers to help me with them. I’m not sure I can count them. Also, some books get reworked into other books with similar content and different titles.
So I don’t bother counting the books. I just keep writing them.
I usually write one book at a time, though there is overlap because of the need to revise other books in process, which often have to be cut some or added to in order to accommodate the designer.
What is this latest book about?
Stephen M. Miller
It’s a Bible guide, more compact than others I’ve done…and with lots more maps. I think of it as my Bible atlas in disguise. Here’s the link: https://stephenmillerb.wpengine.com/books/a-quick-guided-tour-through-the-bible/