How I got my book
with author, James J. Garber
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
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 It analyses why our view of God is outdated and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
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
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
JJG: I only looked
firstwriter.com, though I did consider self-publication
as a backup.
fw: And what do you think made
firstwriter.com effective for you?
firstwriter.com provides a lot of publishers to consider and I could
tell whether they might look at a liberal theological
once you'd found suitable publishers to approach, did
you send out lots of copies of your manuscript or take
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
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
JJG: My first was
Transaction Publishing and currently it is Bauu
Institute and Press.
fw: What do you think was the key to securing
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
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A new webzine for fans of the urban fantasy genre, called
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take that extra step and go beyond simply documenting your
In this new age of laptops,
digital cameras and other gizmos, the tools of travel
writing have changed markedly – but the challenge
remains the same: to present a real to life and vivid documentary of the
things you saw, heard and did while on vacation or while
just travelling through some town or spot in the woods.
It is your view or your reaction to the surroundings
around you. When putting it all together for a travel
article, it's up to you to bring your readers into the
picture and let them feel your reaction as if they were
right there beside you. That's why it is so important to
go beyond simply documenting your travels. Live them,
feel them, and let your readers feel your reaction
through your words.
The next time you are going out on an assignment or just
going for a weekend getaway, don't forget the digital
camera, an ample supply of rechargeable batteries, extra
memory cards for picture taking and a purse full of ink
pens and purse-size spiral notebooks for note-taking.
When you're actually where you want to be, and start
taking photos, write down everything – write down your
reaction to the old lady in the window who looked like a
witch and kept staring at you as you walked toward the
restaurant. Who was she? Why did she look at you as if
she had seen a ghost? Why did she look startled when
your eyes met hers?
Be observant of your surroundings
– and the people you
encounter. Write down anything that might be of
importance to your upcoming story – don't trust anything
to memory. Too much information is way better than not
Visit local tourist centres and request brochures and
travel guides. Take notes in the margins of these
brochures when someone emphasises "word-of-mouth"
information that's not included in the brochure. Don't
be afraid to ask questions about the locals. Find out if
there is any history in the area that is noteworthy for
a destination travel article. Suppose Jesse James stayed
at the historic hotel across the street and they had a
room full of memorabilia – his boots, gun and gun belt –
other things he may have left behind. There's one angle
for your travel story – but dig deeper – what if that
hotel is said to be haunted by someone other than Jesse
James? Jesse James isn't really enough to get people to
travel this far in nowhere country to a small run down
hotel simply to see a small room half full of Jesse
James memorabilia. You have to dig deeper and find
something your readers can get excited about.
Request a room – stay there
– hear the creaks and things
that go bump in the night – listen for the ghost that
haunts the hallway late into the night – did you see
anything? Did the hair stand up on your neck when the
cold draft of wind from nowhere hurled by you as you
were standing in the hall?
Write down the things you saw and heard. How did you
feel? Let your readers feel the fear you felt as you
were alone on the upper floor of that haunted hotel.
Where was everyone else? Why were you all alone? Was it
really haunted? Or was it just your imagination from the
stories you had heard? Write it and let your readers
help you decide whether the haunting was real or not.
Did anyone else hear the noises you heard? Who's shadow
was it that crept by your doorway just before you shut
the door? Who was crying in the hallway after you went
in and locked the door? When you opened the door the
sound stopped – there was no-one there.
What about that blurred image that kept showing up in
some of the photos you took? What was it? Who was it?
You didn't see anyone when you were shooting. Creepy,
Write them an article that will entice them to come to
that particular place – an old run down hotel with a
creepy past ninety miles from nowhere – let them feel
your excitement and fear as you crawled back into bed –
don't only tell them about the noises you heard coming
from the hall late in the night – let them hear the fear
as you write especially when you heard the woman scream
out in the room next door and you were too afraid to
climb out of bed to go see.
It may scare the heck out of some people and they may
never want to visit the haunted hotel, but chances are
that your story will draw quite a lot of people to that
little hotel located in nowhere country just to see for
themselves if it were haunted or not. That's what your
travel article must do – go beyond documenting the
things you learned, the things you saw or heard – your
readers must feel the same excitement you do about a
place or all the documenting in the world will never
lure them to this place – especially if it's ninety
miles from nowhere!
In essence, you must present a travel story that goes
beyond documentation – it must have real feelings that
awe the reader and make them want to visit the place of
interest. Leave the dull documentation to the travel
brochures and the like.
Bring out the realness and the life of a place and
people will be drawn to visit time and time again.
About the author
Marcella Simmons has more than 650 published credits in
hundreds of publications including several local
newspapers and she is currently working on three
romance/suspense novels and a reference guide for writers,
while maintaining several travel websites. See
Writers are encouraged to submit travel articles on the
subject of travel writing to Ms Simmons at
writers at firstwriter.com
for the following invaluable resources for writers:
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