Like a Maccabee: The Birth of a Book, Part 1

It all started on Thursday, July 28, 2005.

I received an e-mail with the subject “submission/query.” It wasn’t the first query I’d received, but it was the first one that caught my attention. Why?

Unlike all the previous queries, this one began “Dear Friends.” I liked that. I suppose one could argue that it might be presumptuous, but I did prefer it much more than the “Dear Sir” ones I’d received. In my opinion, when writing a query, the writer should at least address it to “Dear Sir or Madam” in the off chance (or in the case of a Jewish publisher that specializes – though not exclusively – in women authors, the likelihood) that the publisher or editor who answers e-mail is a woman.

Additionally, unlike the other queries I’d received, this one had no spelling errors. It was friendly and confident. And it was informative. The writer told me: 1) why she specifically chose Yaldah Publishing to query; 2) what the book was about; 3) what she perceived the target audience to be; 4) her experience and qualifications as a writer, her knowledge of Judaism, and her knowledge of the subject matter (soccer, in this story).

I could tell she was enthusiastic about this manuscript, and it piqued my curiosity. It also piqued my anxiety. Let me explain.

Barbara’s book, Like a Maccabee, is only the second book project I’d taken on, and the first in which I would only wear my publisher hat (leaving my author hat to sit alone and accumulate dust). It would mean finding and contracting with an illustrator – a first for me. It would mean coordinating with an author half a continent away, and sticking to a schedule once I’d set it. It meant being responsible to others both in production and royalty payments in a different way than when publishing one’s own work and a change in production schedule means a quick chat in my own head.

But on the positive side, it would mean I could apply all those lessons I’d learned with the first book, Destined to Choose. I could really do it right this time.

I talked it over with my publishing partner (yes, there really is a “we” in Yaldah Publishing administration) and we agreed that this would be a really good fit for Yaldah, and a good business investment.

So I wrote back to Barbara.

And I told her to reconsider.
More to come in “Like a Maccabee: The Birth of a Book, Part 2”!

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