Next week I’ll be traveling once again to the annual academic conferences for scholarship in biblical studies, theology, and archaeology related to biblical studies. One of the agenda items will be getting advanced reader copies (ARC) of The Unseen Realm into the hands of scholars whom I hope will find the content stimulating and agreeable, at least in the sense of being sympathetic to the purpose and intent of the book. The idea is to get some short blurbs recommending the book and a promise to contact a journal or serious blog to review it when the final version publishes in March 2015. So, something for you all to pray for with me.
The book itself has come to just over 380 pages. It’s undergoing a second editorial pass. Here’s the front and back cover of the ARC (in PDF) for Unseen Realm. There will likely be tiny changes made for the final book (e.g., my job title has changed), but this gives you a good idea. Since the “lite” version was a third of the word count, you can do the math for that one.
I’m almost a year into this effort. It was last December when the very first meeting was held to begin work on taking the existing manuscript and doing a lot of serious re-writing. I’ve learned some things along the way about the publishing industry and how books are born. One thing in particular has become crystal clear to me: the book will only succeed if people like those of you reading this care about it. What’s necessary is word-of-mouth. There’s really no substitute for it.
The reasons are simple. Those of you who read the old “Myth That is True” draft know that its rebirth as The Unseen Realm means the book is an academic one. This isn’t the sort of fluff one finds in Christian bookstores. That means I don’t expect Unseen Realm to show up in those stores (although I certainly expect Supernatural to land in those stores). In other words, I need you all to talk about it at church, to your friends, and on social media. People looking for content like you aren’t just going to run into it. You need to help them find it.
The intended audience for Unseen Realm are people like you who want biblical theology. I say it that way because I’m not here to repeat familiar Bible stories, do character sketches, and otherwise provide devotional material. Someone else can do that. I’m looking for the handful of people in every church that preaches the gospel who are starving for content. That’s the target audience, along with those in the pulpit charged with feeding their people. For me the book will be a success when those people discover what they’ve been missing. I also hope that the intended audience of Supernatural, for whom I imagine the content in that book will be largely new, will get fascinated by the supernatural storyline of the Bible. It’s that simple.
Put another way, the basics are important, but you only get to the good stuff when you get past them, when you understand how they work together and the events and ideas that produced them. As I like to say, Sunday School shouldn’t be forever. So success for me means producing things that both pull people out of Sunday School and provide direction to those who outgrew it a long time ago.
So start thinking about spreading the word. It’s going to happen. I’ll have some specific ideas in the months to come (already do — just waiting for the right time), so stay tuned!