Want to get some context for this post? Click here.
I spent most of the day thinking about publishers. The choice of publisher will be a tricky one for a book like this. While I am confident that a university press would be interested in a book about the American Bible Society, I do not think I can afford to go with a university press because the book needs to be in print by May 2016. This does not leave a lot of time to put the manuscript through the process of blind review. Most university presses must send proposals and manuscripts to outside readers to approve. As someone who has been through this process as an author and a manuscript reviewer, I know that it can sometimes take up to three or four months (or more) before an editor receives reviews and makes a decision about publication.
At the moment I am estimating that it will take a publisher one year to get this book into print. This estimate does not include the blind review process. I will not finish the manuscript until May 1, 2015, and hope it will appear on May 1, 2016, so there will be little time to ship the manuscript off to reviewers. Of course this whole schedule will also make it difficult to land any publisher.
So while I have not completely written-off university presses, I think my best bet for this project will be a trade press. Trade presses do not normally put manuscripts through a rigid review process and can often get books into print at a much faster rate.
Yesterday I crafted query letters to a few religious publishers who I think might be interested in my project. (I will send them out today or Wednesday). Other trade presses will not look at unsolicited manuscripts from authors who are not represented by a literary agent. I do not have a literary agent, but I have been exploring my options on this front for several years now. Yesterday I wrote to several agents who have worked with authors who write American history and American religious history. Most agents ask for an e-mail query describing the book and the author. If they like the book idea they will usually ask for a full proposal.
If I get a yes from any of these agents I will try work on a proposal and writing sample (in my case this will be the first chapter of the manuscript). On a project like this I will need to move quickly. I need to secure a contract as soon as possible.