Why I Can Recommend You Buy Lots of My Books for Christmas

I’ve written seven books to date, on quite a range of subjects: evangelicalism in Canada, the problem of God and evil, defending (and commending) the faith, gender, ethics, and more. They’re all in print, they’re all now in paperback, and they all make swell gifts. So buy some to give away this Christmas. “ONE IN EVERY STOCKING” is our slogan.

And how can I so shamelessly tout my own books? Because the terms of my contracts mean I make virtually no money from their sales. On a twenty-dollar book, I think I make one. It might be a little more or less in each case. I don’t know exactly, because I do know it’s too small to bother remembering. But it’s something like that.

Ever notice how most authors have day jobs? This is why. You have to be selling at the level of the pop star writers to make even a middle-class living. Most of us write because we feel we have been given something helpful to say that we’re excited to share, and low royalties keep us nicely focused.

So knock yourselves out! Get that free shipping! Support good publishers and, if you can, good bookstores! Improve the lives of everyone you know!

Just don’t worry that I’m trying to make myself rich. If I am, I’ve picked a stupid way to do it…

0 Responses to “Why I Can Recommend You Buy Lots of My Books for Christmas”

  1. RogueMonk

    Hmm…convincing me to buy your books because you make little to no money on them isn’t all that compelling. I’d think somebody is making some money on them. And that is really beside the fact. If I am going to read your books, I’d be more prone to do so on their own merit–not who makes how little or how much one them.

    • John Stackhouse

      I agree, of course. I don’t expect you to buy a creative work because the artist behind it isn’t making much money: what the heck kind of a reason would that be?! (Hilarious Monty Pythonesque scenarios rush to the imagination.) And I don’t begrudge my publishers or booksellers one cent of what they make in this difficult marketing situation.

      All I was trying to do was to assuage the worries of some readers and audiences that authors such as I who recommend our own books don’t very often have a venal motive–there’s just not enough money in this kind of work to do it for that reason. And if you don’t care about that, then groovy: I’ll write something more interesting for you to read soon–and for free! 😉

  2. Spencer Capier

    Well, as a few recent articles in the Guardian and other online news sites have shown, soon the teensy amount of money writers make in royalties and advances is about to get even smaller. Ebooks mean advances are shrinking, and ebook piracy is ridiculously easy. We musicians say “that is so 2003.” We’ve been ‘volunteering’ our content for a decade already.
    : > ) I’m genuinely concerned for the survival of a professional class of creative worker, except game designers naturally.

  3. Dan Och

    “Support good publishers”: As a someone who works for a small independent book publisher — although trying to grab some of OUP’s market share 🙂 — I say amen to that!


  4. sharon

    How do I get published? I’ve written five novels, two of which I published myself at http://www.roseofsharonbooks.com Rejections, rejections, rejections even though two great agents said my novels were t”the finest literature” they’d seen in their whole careers.


    • John Stackhouse

      I don’t know about fiction-writing. But I am told that agents are the key to getting your books in front of editors. If the agents you have aren’t getting the job done, then I would think it’s time to change agents–especially if your novels are the finest literature they have ever seen…

  5. PrestonP

    Prof. Stackhouse, this blog post was one of your finest works yet. Surely you’re making something off of this blogging endeavour, too?! I could recommend plenty of flashy pop-up ads to make .001 cents here or there. I’d hardly notice ’em. You theology bloggers are sitting on a veritable gold mine!

    Seriously, I am glad you have something exciting to share and as long as you do I will likely continue buying your books. Thanks!

  6. Faith Alive book offer « Squinch

    […] if you think this post an author’s crass, brazen, consumeristic self-promotion, well  out this blog post by John Stackhouse on the realities of book publishing and author royalties.  He writes: And how […]


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