If the Bible Was a New Book

Posted on September 14, 2017


Today it seems everyone writes books. Access to the services that produce books—like printers, computers, apps, all the apparatus necessary—is easily available on the Internet.

Anyone can publish. I, for example, published my “great American novel” with an eBook company in Germany. They did a nice job, and I’m sure my two or three buyers over the past eight or nine years since I published it probably enjoyed it.

I even received a royalty note either this year, but it was so little that I couldn’t get the app to send it to my bank. It was in Euros, or, to be more precise, a small percentage of a Euro, and the software went blank when I told them to send it to my bank in Tuscaloosa.

One step up from my German eBook publisher is Xlibris, what we used to call, sarcastically and with some snootiness, a “vanity press.” In other words, you pay them to publish your book, and so stroke your vanity, rather than the other way around.

Since I have absolutely no traction among Christian publishers, I had to use Xlibris to publish a little Christian instruction and history book at about the same time my great American novel was published. Cleared for Landing: On Living a Christian Life has been read by scores of people, mostly prisoners in the Tuscaloosa County Jail where I go to minister once a week and hand out free copies occasionally. The guys get a big kick because their “minister” of the night—all of us who go in are called “ministers” by the jailers and prisoners—has written a book, and they have it in hand.

Now, I must confess that most of my “congregation” at the Tuscaloosa County Jail are not big readers, so I don’t want to exaggerate my book’s fame. Most of them probably read “how to” manuals, like how to get out of jail, rather than Christian primers. But you take your readers where you find them.

So, what if you wrote the Bible? Where would you take it to be published? Amazon? eBooks? Xlibris? My German publisher will even send you royalties.
The Bible. It has a nice sound to it.

But who will read it? You have hit the “marketing” monster who stands in the door telling you, “so you have a book, now how are you going to sell it?”

You decide instead to go with a traditional publisher. They know how to market books. NY Times bestseller list, here I come.

The big-name publisher keeps it for three months and then returns it.
“Very interesting. Thanks so much for thinking of us. But it’s not quite right for our list. Yada, yada, yada.”

You try three other traditional publishers, then give up.

“I’ll get an agent.”

You send it to five agents, who all say, “Sorry. Get it down to about 50,000 words and maybe I’ll work with you. It certainly is an interesting story.”
Your Bible has about 750,000 words. Your typescript, double spaced, is about 3000 pages. Publishers and agents never got past weighing the manuscript.

“We don’t care if God wrote it. Impossible to publish something so long.”

Your best bet might be a Tweet or two to the same list that President Trump uses for running the country. Surely all those Tweeters could use what the Bible has to say?

The cost of your 750,000-word Bible is going to be in the realm of $500.00 or more a pop. Even a Kindle version will be outrageously priced.

Maybe if I cut 90% of it to get it to a size that millennials and other younger reader are apt to read.

When trying to market it emphasize what folks today like. Your Bible has sex, outrageous characters, charlatans, true believers, murderers, scoundrels, kings and queens, prophets, snake handlers, the Holy Ghost and the Messiah just for starters.

But it simply is too long and too complicated with a plot that doesn’t seem to have a plausible beginning or end.

Then you wake up. Was I having a dream or a nightmare? It doesn’t matter. Aren’t you glad that you didn’t have to publish and sell The Bible today?

God intervened in the history of man long ago and did it all for us. It is the bestselling book of all times, at least 5 billion produced and sold or given away according to the Guinness book of world records, and still going strong.

Published as “If the Bible Were Written Today, Would It Get Published?” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday, July 16, 2017