In Goddess and God in the World, two leading theologians model a new method of embodied theology, rooted in experience and tested in dialogue. Christ and Plaskow agree that the God who is dead in our time is the transcendent and omnipotent male God of traditional theology. They believe that we must create new understandings of divinity because theologies not only help us to make sense of the world, but also provide guidance as we face the urgent social, political, and environmental issues of our time. In contrast to traditional views, Plaskow and Christ situate divinity in the world and place responsibility for the fate of the world firmly in human hands. They argue for an inclusive monotheism that affirms the unity of being through a plurality of images celebrating diversity and difference. Carol believes Goddess is the intelligent embodied love that is in all being, a personal presence that can inspire us to love the world more deeply. Judith understands God as an impersonal power of creativity, the ground of being that includes both good and evil. Their intense questioning of each other’s views provides an exciting model for theological conversation across difference.
Judith and I have been working together on this book off and on for about three years. It grew organically, and we worked sporadically, with one of us writing a chapter and then waiting for the other to finish hers, rewriting the joint chapters one of us had originally drafted many times, and with lots of other events intervening. We sent it out to publishers over a year ago.
We easily found publishers for our other books. With the help of feminist and independent bookstores and conferences sponsored by church and synagogue groups, Women’s Studies Programs, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, our early books practically sold themselves. Publishing and bookselling have changed a great deal since then.
Large chains targeted and closed most of the feminist and independent bookstores. Browsers in bookstores could no longer come across our books on tables or shelves because the chains prefer to stock bestsellers. One of the editors who reviewed our book told us that the open-minded religion writers upon who he had relied to publicize books on the religion pages of major newspapers had all been let go. The government no longer funds the National Endowment for the Humanities as it once did. Students and other interested individuals are now too busy to attend lectures on college campuses in large numbers.
Though Amazon has made books widely available, for the most part, you need to know the name of the book you are looking for—and that’s the problem.
Despite our reputations, and with a combined sales total of a quarter of a million books, Judith and I did not find it easy to find the right publisher. The editors who had earlier clamored for our books because they knew they would appeal to what they called “the intelligent general reader” as well as to an academic audience, now are looking for popular books with high guaranteed sales. Publishers interested in more serious books like ours are likely to price them so high that only libraries and a few very interested scholars will buy them.
While waiting to hear from publishers, Judith and I sent our book to several women colleagues, all of whom liked the book even more than they expected to, and each of whom offered excellent suggestions for revision. There were aspects of the book they liked very much, and some not as much. With their ideas in mind, at the beginning of this year, we began an intensive round of rewriting, which continued through early May.
After nearly a year, with several editors taking a long time to “think about” our book, and several others being made redundant while reviewing our book, we finally received an offer from Fortress Press. This was a bit of a surprise given that Fortress is a Christian press and neither of us is Christian. However, as we knew that Fortress is one of the last presses with a significant line in feminist theology and also that it does very good job of promotion at the American Academy of Religion, we accepted their offer. We submitted the final version of our book manuscript to our editor at Fortress a few weeks ago. We now need a rest.
However, in deciding to publish with Fortress, we recognized that if we hoped to sell our book to the educated but not academic feminists who had been a major part of the audience for our earlier books, we would have to publicize it to them ourselves. This is the daunting task now ahead of us. Just thinking about it makes me tired.
To begin with, we will have to set up a Facebook page for the book and post on it. We will have to create a website for it. We will have to find online bloggers willing to review the book and send a list of them to the publishers. Though our new book will be published in a Kindle edition, we learned that only one of our previous books– my Rebirth of the Goddess–was available in Kindle. Yet if our books are not available in Kindle, a new generation of readers will not be reading them. So we are now engaged in writing our publishers to ask them to put our earlier books into Kindle or to relinquish the ebook rights so that we can make them available through one of the new independent services that would be willing to make them available as ebooks.
What else do we need to do? Does anyone have any experience with strategies that have worked?
We also need to find a publicist—or maybe more than one: we need to make our book known to Jewish feminists, Goddess feminists, Christian feminists, and to unaffiliated feminist seekers, and we hope it will also appeal to male theologians and other men looking for a way to think about divinity.
Does anyone know a good publicist who would be suitable for our book?
Carol P. Christ leads the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete (facebook and twitter). Carol’s books include She Who Changes and and Rebirth of the Goddess; with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions and forthcoming in 2016 from Fortress Press, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Explore Carol’s writing. Photo of Carol by Maureen Murdock.