Listen to This before Writing That Book (Michael Thomson/Wipf and Stock)

Many first-time authors, whether accomplished academics or passionate amateurs, underestimate the time and revision involved in working with a book publisher. In this episode, Dr. Dru Johnson interviews Michael Thomson, Acquisitions Editor at Wipf and Stock Publishers, which publishes books on theology and biblical studies, among other topics. They discuss the joys and struggles of the writing, editing, and publishing process.

Authors need to identify what kind of book they’re writing and who their audience is. They need to learn when to use more or fewer stories and examples. And good authors listen to the people around them for critical feedback. After a publisher accepts the manuscript, preparing the book for publication can take around a year.

Michael also shares the difficulties of being an editor. Often, editing requires a careful balance between preserving the author’s original work (and feelings) and developing the book’s marketability. He reveals some of the secrets of book publishing, such as whether authors get to pick their own titles and covers (they don’t) or how much money they make (not that much). However, for those who are ready and willing, the process can be rewarding and beneficial.

Show notes:

  • 0:00 The difficulty of writing books
  • 5:39 Unexpectedly good writing at Wipf and Stock
  • 8:15 Figuring out what kind of book you’re writing
  • 12:55 Transitioning from academic to popular writing
  • 17:44 Writing as a community enterprise
  • 24:10 The subtle art of editing
  • 28:51 Why authors don’t pick titles and covers
  • 33:16 Authors don’t get paid that much

Show notes by Micah Long.

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