Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On Writing a History of the American Bible Society--Update #16

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Yesterday was productive, but not as productive as I had hoped.  My research schedule was interrupted by a radio interview, Hobby Lobby, training a new research assistant (my daughter!), and the World Cup. But I did get some things accomplished on the American Bible Society project.

I managed to read through the ABS Annual Reports for the 1820s.  These reports are filled with names (of donors) and numbers (of Bibles sold and money collected).  I tend to browse these sections of the reports, looking for names of prominent donors that my future readers might recognize or trends in Bible sales.  A lot of the material in the Annual Reports also appears in the Extracts that I was working through last week in New York City and will continue to study next week when I return to the Big Apple. Nevertheless, the Annual Reports provide the historical detail I will need to tell the ABS story. I tend to be a "big ideas" guy when it comes to writing history.  I want my readers to see how the minutiae is connected to larger trends and patterns.  But I can't unpack this larger context without including some of the regular business of the society.

I also spent part of the day collecting a list of university publishers who might be interested in a book about the American Bible Society.  As I mentioned in update #15, I would like to publish the book with a trade press, but today alone I received three rejection e-mails from literary agents who felt that they could not convince editors at trade publishing houses to invest in an institutional history.  (Though all of them told me that they really liked the project).  Of course I hope to prove them wrong, but I may have to prove them wrong with a university press.  

I still hope to start writing chapter one this week. Stay tuned.

P.S. Thanks for all of your e-mails and notes.  It seems like this series is resonating with a lot of readers.