The goal of this thread is to talk about the book that I’m working on now, which I hope to have written (gods willing) by the end of this calendar year. We’ll see. To get to that I felt like I needed to talk about how I had changed publishers, and now that I’m talking about that, it occurs to me that I should talk about how one goes about getting a book published.
One of the emails I get *all* the time is from authors who have written a book, or hope to write a book, who want to know how they can get a publisher to take a look at it. The short answer: it ain’t easy.
So first let me do this autobiographically, how I myself got into the publishing business.
The first thing to stress: I had a leg up. I had a PhD at a reputable school (Princeton Theological Seminary) and a teaching job at another one (Rutgers University). The reality is that publishers of scholarly books look for authors who have scholarly credentials.
I know a lot of authors *without* scholarly credentials who think that it’s not fair that they can’t get their books published “just because I don’t have a PhD.” The problem is that word “just.” Getting a PhD isn’t like buying a rare item that you’ve hunted for on the Internet. A PhD requires years (and years) of rigorous, full time, mind-changing, intense labor. Someone who hasn’t done it, simply can’t know what it’s like. It is very, very rare indeed for someone without a PhD to be “qualified” as an expert in an academic field. It happens on occasion, but it simply cannot happen by spending your weekend reading books for a few years. It’s not like that at all.
Most of the people who ask me about getting their book published – on the historical Jesus, on the writings and life of the apostle Paul, on the apocryphal Gospels, on some theory they have about the beginnings of Christianity, and so on – do not have a PhD and frankly, from what I can tell, don’t know what it takes to get a PhD. They’ve read a lot books and think that now they are ready to write their own. But it doesn’t work that way.
The PhD …
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