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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What is Your Royalty Statement?

by Yvonne Lehman @YvonneLehman

What’s the best royalty statement you ever got?

Many of us are disappointed, or begrudgingly shake our heads with acceptance of a small or non-existent royalty because we’re still earning out our advance.

It’s easy to wonder… is it worth it? And when e-book publishers give royalties only, “No advance” doesn’t motivate like a contract with at least a small advance.

We don’t write for money? No… but if we don’t get money with writing, we have to get a paying job, so yes we want money so we can write.

Sort of reminds me of “good works don’t save you, only acceptance of Jesus” and yet, if we are saved and have Jesus then good works follow. James says, “faith without works is dead.” The two go together.

How nice if writing & money could go together.
How nice if writing and money could go together. Other professions in which Christians work pay money, including the ministry/work of a pastor. The primary purpose isn’t for money, but without the money how does one survive?

My first published piece was seven rhyming lines of iambic pentameter for which I received $2.57 (strange amount) – was it worth it? Oh yes, Happiness galore, great joy. I became a published writer, a professional making money, and that’s before I even attended a writers conference.

When I am penniless (almost) and bewail my plight of poverty, I get a letter or email saying how my book changed a life.

One of my books helped save a marriage.
My book, In Shady Groves (story of Hosea and Gomer), helped save a marriage. A man called me and thanked me (later sent me a gift). His wife could not forgive herself for her actions and this book helped her realize God forgives her, her husband forgave her, and she could forgive herself. There’s no amount of money worth that!

One of my novels had a main character who visited the young woman she had sponsored when they both were young. Other of my stories included mention of sponsoring children in other countries. Readers have written to say those stories influenced them to sponsor a child. Maybe the money on the royalty statement didn’t show a lot of sales, but if one child was given a chance in life by a reader, because of the story, then that’s the payment.

A woman wrote to me, saying she was not a Christian but my book made her think, and she was going to read it again. That’s a better reward than a few dollars.

Most writers have stories like that to tell. That’s why it makes me wonder about the phrase, “don’t self promote.” I have yet to hear a writer promote self. We promote our books, articles, devotions, etc. that God has enabled us to create, and these stories touch other lives. The product of our profession needs to be promoted.

But… at those times of the year when royalty statements come and they are a disappointment we can thank God we are in a profession that ministers and touches the lives of others in positive ways. And as I write, I probably learn the faith message imbedded, and need it, even more than my readers.

Through the years I’ve probably bemoaned my failure about royalty statements more than I have thanked God for the surprising ones and even a couple abundant ones (never got rich!).

Eventually, I think about my best royalty statement. Galatians 3:26 says, “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ is King of kings, Lord of lords. I’m his child. That makes me a princess.

What better Royalty Statement could there be?

Yvonne is author of 56 novels, founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, and is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She has joined Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas as Acquisitions and Managing Editor of Candlelight Romance and Guiding Light Women’s Fiction. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Recent releases are a novella in Reluctant Brides and Name that Tune in A Gentleman’s Kiss (Barbour). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC (Abingdon), which she signs periodically at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge TN, and is in production as an audio book. Her non-fiction compilations (Grace Publishing) are Divine Moments and Christmas Moments (2014), Spoken Moments, Precious Moments, and Christmas Moments Book #2 (2015). She is currently acquiring for Stupid Moments and Christmas Moments Book #3. She blogs at and Novel Rocket Blog.


  1. I feel the same, Yvonne. I'm glad I didn't start writing professionally until I was older, so the money, while lovely to get and spend, lol, is not why I write. I love story. I always have. And if the message in mine (woven into the laughter) helps someone, it's all worth it. Those changes are eternal. Money fades away...quicker than I can seem to spend it. ;o)

  2. Nice reminder, Yvonne. In writing you'd better not be doing it just for the money, or you'll most likely be sorely disappointed. The reader letters are the best!


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