Monday, January 19, 2009

Rejecting Augustine: Contemporary Publishing Advice

Dear Mr. Augustine,

Thanks for sending your manuscript Confessions for our review. I'm sorry to say that we can't accept it. However, our editorial review board thinks you have some potential.

Your role as the Bishop of Hippo has come to our attention. We think some well placed public relations and media exposure could boost sales, assuming you are willing to clean up your manuscript significantly. Would you be open to promoting your book at strategic speaking engagements, as well as on radio, online, etc.? Do you have a blog? If not, start one. Call it something like Daily Confessions: Augie Tells All. Tweet, too.

As for the manuscript itself, I do very much like the title. Confessions is short, catchy, and compelling. But it needs a subtitle. How about
  • Confessions: How I Ran Away, Joined a Cult, and Found Jesus
  • Confessions: Fresh Dirt from the Bishop of Hippo
  • Confessions: A Million Little Heresies
As to the actual writing style, you really need to remove all the prayers. They are distracting and might confuse readers. For instance, when you turn to address God it interrupts the flow of the narrative. By all means simplify the text! You write, "... because you made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you." Just say, "God is really neat. We need him a lot."

Also, could you give the reader more than the theft of some fruit? Consider embellishing the stories just enough to draw in a broader readership. Could you say that you broke into a friend's house to steal some drugs? That would play better. And do tell more about your sexual exploits. We could add a fine print disclaimer about how some of the stories have been altered to protect the innocent, etc.

Finally, you do realize that today's Christian reader will not resonate with much of what you've written. It has too much depth, theology, and -- ugh -- doctrine! Your target audience can barely crawl, but you want them to not only walk, but run. Appeal to the heart, not the head.


A. Christian

P.S. What's with the final four chapters? Memory, time and eternity, heaven and earth, the days of creation? They don't seem to fit. Cut them and make them articles or a companion book. You can slap a preface on it and maybe make it a gift book or sequel: More Confessions for the Christian Soul.

P.P.S. I have not even touched your manuscript The City of God. Do you really think anyone wants to read all those pages? Just send along a one page executive summary, please.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

Unfortunately, it rings true.