I spent the next several months putting the lectures into a logical sequence. I wrote an introduction then started writing out a full text version of my notes. When I completed about half of the notes, I asked a friend to help write a query letter. I sent that letter, along with a brief proposal of the book then mailed the envelopes filled with my dreams of becoming an author.
About a month later, I received my first rejection letter. After that, and during the next several months, I received a rejection letter a week. Six months later, I received rejections from nearly all the publishers I had contacted. Here I have to interject that I did not have enough letters to “paper the wall” with. I had only contact ten academic publishing companies. But, nine letters of rejection did not encourage me to keep writing.
Two months after I had given up completely and put the project in a folder to “forget,” I received a letter with a contract inside for me to sign and return. Yes! I had found an academic press that wanted to publish my book. Their only reservation was that they were unsure if the book would sell. So, they asked me to see if I could get two hundred libraries interested in buying my book. I immediately got to work contacting religious colleges all over the USA. I asked their librarians to buy my book. I think I reached out to more than 800. Well, I was shocked when nearly three hundred sent orders for at least one copy.
My book went to press and I became a published author. And then the money started rolling in! —NOT!
The first rule of publishing is this: Academic books usually draw the interest of collegiate libraries. Schools and colleges only buy textbooks in bulk.
The one thing I learned from this experience was that I enjoyed the whole writing process. I loved having in my hands my own copy of a book that I had written, that had my name on the cover as the author. I was smitten. During the next twenty-five years, I wrote another academic book and two novels. After I retired from my teaching post, I began writing in earnest. My third novel is available on Amazon and select bookstores (I don’t have a reputation or a recognizable name).
But, I’m writing. I’m happy. I’m enjoying my retirement years. I’m not making much money from my book sales, but I love myself and my family. I’m a happy guy. Why? Because just like when I was teaching (for nearly forty years), I was enjoying what I do. No regrets. No worries. No troubles. Only visions of the future and what life has to offer me. And in the end, that really is the most important thing about life: Enjoy what you do and get the most out of the years that you are on this earth.
Herb is an author, speaker, retired college professor, and retired Army Reserve chaplain living in South Florida.
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