I am stepping on to some shaky blogging territory (shaky blogging territory here equals writing something in a public forum that you hope a particular person does not read)… but… here goes….
I met someone who works for a denominational publishing house, who said, five minutes after our first hello, “We would never publish one of your books.”
I’m not sure why he said it. And, of course, I was offended. I mean, I can understand getting a rejection letter after sending in a proposal. But I hadn’t sent in a proposal. I had not even hinted that I would try to send in a proposal.
He went on, “Your material is not scholarly enough.”
The truth is that this house often publishes less-than-scholarly material. I laughed and pointed that out. And I also pointed out that my book sells very well, thank you very much. And then my mind went on an extended mental rant as I thought about how I would never enquire with them anyways, and that my book is used in seminaries, and ….
Yeah… that’s right. I’m a big baby.
I have had more conversations with him, which have been much nicer. But, this initial discussion came to my mind when I was at a focus group for another, much larger, progressive religious publisher. They were asking pastors what they needed, and our answers often gravitated to the same thing, “We need books that we can hand to our church members, not seminary books.”
And, I think it was Anne Howard who suggested, “Conservative religious books are grass roots. Progressive religious books are academic.”
We all shook our heads and the same cry echoed around the table, “Please, give us some smart, grass-roots books.” And we described our congregations: they are intelligent and passionate. They could tell you about the entire complicated tribal system in Afghanistan, but they may not know much about the Bible. We need books for that person.
Maybe conservatives assume that they will have converts and progressives assume that everyone grew up in the church. I don’t know, but we need those basic books.
And so, I make my plea to my progressive publishing friends. Don’t dismiss those books that are for regular people. As pastors, we need to be able to hand a good book to intelligent parishioners who just might be starting out with this whole church thing. I also get requests for daily devotional books, marriage books, basic Bible books, finance books from a Christian perspectice—as progressives, we have things to say about ordinary life, and the people in the pews are really wanting to hear it.
So let’s hear it. Pastors and church leaders, what requests do you get?
Photo by Ansy