Traditional Publishing

How I got my book published - An interview with author, James J. Garber – Friday June 22, 2007

James J. Garber recently secured a publisher using's database of book publishers. We caught up with him to talk to him about his success, and his writing.

fw: Congratulations on having secured a publisher for your book. What is the title of your book?

JG: Harmony in Healing: The Theoretical Basis of Ancient and Medieval Medicine. It chronicles the association between philosophy, astronomy and the approach the Ancients and Medievals took in their practice of medicine.

fw: How did you go about putting the book together?

JG: It's based on my PhD dissertation. It required research, writing and rewriting several times. It took six months, time, and consistent effort!

fw: Was it your first foray into writing?

JG: I've written many lectures and papers. My PhD really improved my writing skills. I must have written around 700 pages of research papers before doing the book.

fw: And how did you go about trying to get it published?

JG: I went through the list of nonfiction publishers provided by (over 650) found 75 or so that looked appropriate and sent emails with my CV, the Introduction to the book with a cover letter and two chapters from the book (if called for on the listing). I sent out one or two unsolicited manuscripts. I got 75, maybe 100 rejections but expected this, knowing it was a numbers game. Most were courteous but brief. Some said the book sounded interesting but "didn't fit their list". "List" was the euphemism most used to say they didn't like the book. Four publishers showed interest and two accepted the book for publication. I also contacted publish-for-fee companies as a backup but in the end did not need them. I took the first publisher that accepted the book since they were reputable, have published some major writers, including Nobel laureates.

fw: What made you choose as your resource for finding a publisher?

JG: The large number of publishers provided. In general, the description of what type of books they considered was helpful but didn't always give precise enough information for me to be sure that they were appropriate for my topic: this is a niche type book. An author friend gave me a book that I used a little but was my primary resource.

fw: And how long was it before you were accepted?

JG: It took two weeks of intensive emailing and another two weeks finishing up the submissions. I got my first acceptance within one month. The University of Michigan Press took about six weeks to read and reject the MS. One UK company is still looking at the MS three or four months later.

fw: Which publisher did you ultimately go with?

JG: Transaction Publishing (Rutgers University). They will be publishing the book in November 2007.

fw: How are you finding the whole publishing process?

JG: It has been fine. I found out very soon that they did not want many figures (and no colour figures at all) as they were just too costly. The copyeditor I talked to was very nice. I have not yet received the copyeditor's version of the book. It was really exciting to see the ISBN # of my book: 978-1-4128-0692-3.

fw: Do you have any general tips or advice for other writers trying to get published?

JG: Work hard at writing the book and editing it. Send in lots of submissions and don't get discouraged. My author friend had to pay to get his first book published but now has a second book out which was readily accepted for publication because of the success of his first and he has offers by publishers to do two more books. All four are nonfiction.

fw: And what are your plans for the future?

JG: I am about a quarter done with my next book about an aspect of the science and religion controversy. I'm hoping with one published book and the popularity of this topic now it will also be published.

fw: Best of luck with it, and thank you for taking the time to talk to us.