Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Author's Life: Reviewers (X)

Only an uber-fool would stumble forward without having her book manuscript read in draft by several "first readers." Only an uber-fool would attempt publishing in the dangerous domain of interfaith anything without rigorous review.

Being a regular fool (read: author), I had eight first readers -- Christians and Jews -- checking all or parts of Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar?

I asked everyone to review my work for factual errors and too-weird-to-be-credible thinking. I discussed Jewish "family [spiritual] purity" laws and practices with someone who observes them. I consulted with a Roman Catholic canon lawyer after a first reader expressed concerns about the way I explained transubstantiation. I welcomed counsel and counted ninety-eight percent of it joy.

And then, my editor sent the final draft of my trade book for regular folks to a Famous Scholar in Biblical Studies who went vituperatively berserk. No joke, I'm talking about personal attacks bloated with sarcasm and disdain. Famous Scholar dissed my Jewish upbringing, my academic training, and my scholarship; took umbrage at my humor.

My editor was slightly freaked out, especially after I described the level of incivility that seems to come with this writing territory. Oddly enough, I found Famous Scholar's vitriol affirming because, as anyone who writes in controversial areas knows, whenever we write one of these:
Reviewers see this:


  1. I'm sure he/she has an (unpublished) dissertation we could trash.

  2. Dear abused sister,
    I review books. I like reviewing books I enjoy, find informative and entertaining, and show solid work and mastery on the part of the author.

    But I LOVE ripping a book when I am passionate about the subject and am sure that the author will bring the world to ruin if I do not warn them of this travesty.

    Too bad you made his day.

  3. Dear Neil,
    You are to report home from Iraq immediately. The sun, heat, and sand are causing damage. xox

  4. Dearest Author,
    Unless you have some serious pull at the dept. of defense, I am here till next year.
    BTW pervasive dust and walking on gravel here are worse than the sun, heat and sand.
    Your camo brother with love,

  5. I think the Rorschach looks like Yoda wearing fairy wings and doing jujitsu on your face.

    Then again, it's been an annoying few days. Tomorrow it will be joy-filled butterflies.


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