Joel Chas­noff has been blog­ging all month for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil on his NET­WORK author tour.

Writ­ing from Hous­ton, TX, in the midst of the mega-est week of my Mega Tour. It began in San Diego on Sun­day, where I ran into fel­low author (and friend) Joel Hoff­man. Then on to Wal­nut Creek, CA; Cher­ry Hill, NJ; a Hous­ton day school this morn­ing (Emory-Wein­er School, which is a total­ly great name for a Jew­ish school), and tonight the Hous­ton Book Fest.

I’ve noticed a recur­ring phe­nom­e­non: after a book event, some­one will approach me and tell me that he or she is work­ing on a book. The per­son asks for advice – and by his/​her ques­tions, I can tell whether he/​she has what it takes to write a book.

Ques­tions that sig­nal success:

How long did it take you to write it?”
Did your edi­tor work with you along the way?”
What are your writ­ing habits?”
How many drafts did you go through?”
Did you know when you were finished?”

These are all ter­rif­ic ques­tions. They are about the writ­ing process, which every author strug­gles with. These ques­tions show that the writer is immersed in his/​her project and passionate.

And then there is the one ques­tion that tells me the per­son is prob­a­bly writ­ing for the wrong rea­sons and, there­fore, won’t see it through. That ques­tion is:

What are the resid­u­als on book sales?”

Oh, boy. Resid­u­als? Are you kid­ding me? The resid­u­als on book sales are tiny. And they only come months – pos­si­bly years – down the road, if ever, because first you have to earn back your advance for writ­ing the book and only then does the extra mon­ey come in. And even then it’s a pit­tance, maybe 15% of the prof­it on the book.

The most ded­i­cat­ed writ­ers write their books with­out any thought for the mon­ey. Some even self-pub­lish their books. Either way, writ­ing the book is a two-year process at min­i­mum, and prob­a­bly more like 3 – 5. Any­one who’s writ­ing the book for the resid­u­als will prob­a­bly be dis­ap­point­ed along the way and like­ly won’t hang in there.

Joel Chas­noff will be blog­ging here all month as he trav­els around the coun­try on his Jew­ish Book NET­WORK tour.

Joel Chas­noff and Ben­ji Lovitt are Amer­i­can-born stand-up come­di­ans who now live in Israel, and are the authors of the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award-win­ning Israel 201. They’ve per­formed com­e­dy at more than 2,000 Jew­ish events in 10 countries.