The Book Is Finished, Now On to Publicizing It by Carol P. Christ


Carol in Crete turquoiseGoddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, forthcoming from Fortress Press in 2016.

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.

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Categories: Academics, Books, Feminism and Religion, Feminist Theology, General

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23 replies

  1. I look forward to buying this book and wish I could offer help with the very pesky question of publisizing this valuable work. I remember years ago when I lived in New York how a book on a vendor’s table (Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books on Carmine Street) outside on the sidewalk caught in my coat as I walked by, and there was your “Diving Deep and Surfacing”…since then bought all your works… yes, it would be great for all your works to available on Kindle for a new generation of feminist seekers. Good luck with your and Judith’s work.

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    • Diving Deep and The Coming of Lilith (Judith) will be made available soon on Kindle by Beacon Press. Still waiting to hear from Palgrave about She Who Changes, but as they already have an ebook available to libraries, I am hopeful. Harper & Row said no to our 4 books with them (early books and big sellers) but with the help of Susan Griffin we are going to try to make them available through Open Court ebooks. Open Court works with published authors whose books are not being available on ebook by their publishers. It took me a while to figure out that it is possible to scan a published book for the ebook. Also, if ebooks are not mentioned in your contract (as they weren’t in ours up through 1991) then you already own the ebook rights and do not have to contact the publisher unless you want to. Our contract for the ebook with Beacon gives us 20% royalties, which seemed fine. But Open Court gives a much higher rate! All in the learning process.

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  2. Hi Carol, congrats to you and Judith, can’t wait to read “Goddess and God in the World” — Here’s a possibility for a publicist, the listing below is from the National Book Network Publicists List —
    http://www.nbnbooks.com/publishers/publicists_list.shtml

    Company: Gail Leondar-Wright Public Relations
    Contact: Gail Leondar
    Phone: 781-648-1658
    Email: glpr@aol.com
    Specialty: progressive politics & social issues, feminist, gay and lesbian

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  3. I am excited about your new book and I look forward to purchasing it. I enjoy books in hard copy. Being new to your work, I was surprised when Word Press sent me one of your articles (Blogs) and I was hooked. I enjoy your writings and point of view . I am sorry that I can not help you with publicizing your book other then to do it through word of mouth and on my Facebook page. Best of luck and I am patiently waiting for the book to be available for purchase.

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  4. Hurrah! Dashing out the door, gone for a few days. Will ponder and respond further when I get back!

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  5. I’m eager to read the new book. I think I know another publicist. I’ll have to ask her if she’s available.

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  6. I have copies of all your books and I can’t wait to read your new one! I will promote it on my Facebook page and to the women in my singing circle. Good luck!

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  7. Have you tried Minnesota Women’s Press in St. Paul? BookWomen Molie Hoben and Glenda Martin

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  8. Carol, here is where your community really comes in to support you.

    * Each and every one of us will need to go to Amazon and REVIEW the book there. That pushes the rankings up in Amazon. Then we need to do the same for every single book review site out there. (Your publicist can provide us with a list.)

    * We each need to go to our local bookstore and ASK for the book to be special ordered. This won’t guarantee a placement in smaller bookstores, but it will help.

    * Those of us who work at universities or public libraries must RECOMMEND this publication to the buyer in charge of the humanities.

    * And, yes, we all need to send announcements to our email lists and write our own posts about it.

    If you had an audience of a dozen people, these steps wouldn’t mean much. But there are legions — LEGIONS — of us who are very much looking forward to this book. If we honestly want publications of this calibre, we HAVE GOT TO STEP UP and make it happen. You are doing Amazonian work, Carol, and we need to be there to support you.

    I know that lots of people think their voice doesn’t matter. Well, it is a whole new world out there, and the only thing that DOES matter is your voice. So we need to use our voice, again and again. We cannot let Amazon and big box stores silence us.

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    • I’m copying your post herbiznow and pasting it on my computer for action! Thank you for the “push”.

      Congratulations to you and Judith, Carol.

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  9. First, I am so excited to see another book forthcoming from you wonderful ladies! Can’t wait to see it in my bookshelf with the other Christ/Plaskow volumes! Second, my husband runs a full-service publishing company focused on ebook and audiobook platforms, and he has a colleague who’s an expert in marketing fo online books. Check out http://www.gutenbergreloaded.com for more info.

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  10. Carol:

    I have no experience in this but my wife has been a book designer for nearly 40 years. She has designed books (the whole thing–cover, interior etc) for a sizable percentage of every academic press in the US. The changes in the book industry during her career, but especially over the past 10 years, have had and continue to have profound consequences–someone should write a book about it!

    Personally I would not be too concerned about a stand alone FB page or even a website. The fact that your book will be on Kindle means that you have one of the best marketing platforms you could ask for right there. I would leverage off of that presence and focus instead on any and every mode of communicating about your book. Approaching podcasters about doing short interviews. Setting up a youtube channel (or approaching an already existing channel that sponsors talks/interviews) and posting short videos of interviews with you and Plaskow. Virtually no cost in that and yet a youtube video, done right, can attract a surprising number of views depending on the topic.

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  11. Contact Devorah Winegarten in Austin–she wrote “There Are Jews in Texas” a little book of poetry that has been a huge success. She is also connected with the Story Circle Network, a group of women writers–I am a board member–you can advertise perhaps in their newsletter and is not terribly expensive. Blogging the info on She Writes might help. Let me know when the time is “right” and I will put it on my blog which attaches to my Facebook page. I am not very good at marketing myself or my own book of poetry “On the Rim of Wonder” would sell better. Contact all the feminist and goddess/pagan blogs–there are quite a few. Unfortunately, doing all this marketing yourselves takes a lot of time.

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  12. Thanks to all of you for your support and suggestions. Judith and I will mull it all over and act accordingly. You will hear from us again, as the pub date comes closer.

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  13. I just got back and have had a chance to read more carefully. The changes in publishing have been drastic and are ongoing. Having a web presence, which you already do, is key. I also concur with Stuart’s suggestions. I have not had particularly great luck with publicists. You would need one who is willing to do some research and has an appreciation and understanding for your work. Conferences might be important. Being on panels, speaking. I am sure you know all this. I am mainly writing to offer best wishes. And yes if your publisher is going to have an advertising budget, do spend some of it on kindle promotion. All the best to you both. Looking forward to holding my copy in my hands!

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      • On my kindle, I see ads for books whenever I turn it on. I have bought books that way. My publisher did promotion on kindle–paid for it!–and it paid off. I don’t know the details, alas. Do ask your publisher to find out about it. I never would have gotten a kindle myself, but I was given one as a gift. It makes impulse buying very easy. It is also easy to read with a cat or two on your lap–or perhaps a dog!

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  14. There is no place online like FAR thanks to you dear Carol — in my heart good friend!

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