How I got my book published - An interview with author, James J. Garber
firstwriter.com – Monday February 27, 2012
James J. Garber recently acquired a publisher using firstwriter.com's database of publishers. We asked him about his writing, and how he found success.
fw: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, James. Could you tell us a little about the book you recently placed with a publisher?
JJG: The book is called Problem Gods: In Search of a Meaningful Deity. It is about the concept of God, past and present, that offers a new definition or view of God based on modern science including astronomy, relativity and quantum theory. It analyses why our view of God is outdated and needs updating. Our current level of understanding of the Universe, including us humans, demands that we revise our divine vision.
fw: What made you feel like this was a book that you needed to write?
JJG: Being raised in a Catholic home with a Jewish father, with sixteen years of religious schooling plus a masters in theology and astronomy has led to this expanded vision of God – a God that is more rational and logical yet more mysterious and awe inspiring. Most of my material came out of my astronomy and theology studies plus a lot of reading. Writing nonfiction one needs to know the current literature. It’s okay to have one's views (biases) on a topic but you need to present the other views out there in a fair manner as well.
fw: Have you published anything else previously?
JJG: I have another published nonfiction book (2008).
fw: Do you think that previous track record helped you place this book? Was it with the same publisher?
JJG: I don’t think it made a great difference. I’m an independent scholar without standing in the theological community and the book had to sell on its own merits. My prior publisher didn’t accept this current book because it’s not on their "list". This is the word they use when rejecting a book.
fw: When your first publisher passed on the book, did you think about trying to get an agent to represent it for you?
JJG: I never sought an agent. Both books were strictly through firstwriter.com. It’s a numbers game. I went through all nonfiction, religious, "liberal" religious publishers. I sent submissions to about 80+ publishers. This included a cover letter, my curriculum vitae and three chapters. Four publishers asked to read the full MS. One accepted it for publication. Last time two accepted the book (it was on ancient and medieval medicine).
fw: Did you try any other methods for placing your book, besides firstwriter.com?
JJG: I only looked at firstwriter.com, though I did consider self-publication as a backup.
fw: And what do you think made firstwriter.com effective for you?
JJG: firstwriter.com provides a lot of publishers to consider and I could tell whether they might look at a liberal theological topic.
fw: And once you'd found suitable publishers to approach, did you send out lots of copies of your manuscript or take another approach?
JJG: No, I didn’t send out any MS unless they requested one. Lots of letters with CV, three chapters either by mail or email, depending on what they wanted. Lots of rejections from the best publishers in the United States!
fw: How long did you spend sending out queries?
JJG: It took about three months.
fw: And how did you deal with the rejections?
JJG: I smiled a lot and filed all the Harvard’s, Princeton’s and MIT’s. After all, how many people have Harvard letterheads in their files? Most sent pleasant responses. Two sent some very encouraging letters.
fw: Which publisher accepted your book in the end?
JJG: My first was Transaction Publishing and currently it is Bauu Institute and Press.
fw: What do you think was the key to securing that deal?
JJG: The approach to the topic I used in both books was unique. I was very careful about grammar and writing style and my wife and I edited the MS ad nauseum.
fw: How are you finding things now the book has been sold?
JJG: It’s fun. I like marketing, book signings etc. They tamper very little and what they’ve done has been good.
fw: What advice would you give to writers still searching for a publisher?
JJG: Work hard at the book, do a good job on it. Get advice from friends and don’t get discouraged. And if you don’t find a publisher consider self-publishing. I have a friend who self- published initially and now has four additional books in print by bone fide publishers.
fw: So what are your plans for the future?
JJG: The book is out as of February 1st. I’m marketing as best I can and have two more books in the works. I don’t publish in order to make money. I do it because it’s gratifying!
fw: Thank you for your time, James, and best of luck with all your books!