IVP - Behind the Books - About InterVarsity Press Archives

March 27, 2013

[Video] Andy Crouch on Institutionalism

We had a real treat last week: an in-person visit from Andy Crouch, the energetic and insightful executive editor of Christianity Today magazine. He's following up his 2008 IVP title, Culture Making, with a new book coming out this fall entitled Playing God. He was at the Press to lay some of his thinking on us, and it was great. Would you like to listen in?

Continue reading "[Video] Andy Crouch on Institutionalism"
Posted by Jon Boyd at 4:23 PM | Comments (1) are closed

February 1, 2013

Let's Not Say "Out of Print"

Speaking of old books that are still in print, what about old books that aren't? Isn't that sad? In a word: yes. But there's good news.

Continue reading "Let's Not Say "Out of Print""
Posted by Jon Boyd at 9:35 AM | Comments (2) are closed

January 30, 2013

[Giveaway] Top Ten Still Going Strong

On one of my posts last month, Terry Tiessen commented to ask what are IVP's oldest still-in-print titles — and it's high time I answered that question. Drumroll, please….

Continue reading "[Giveaway] Top Ten Still Going Strong"
Posted by Jon Boyd at 10:11 AM | Comments (26) are closed

December 26, 2012

In Good Humor

I heard a surprising comment about this blog the other day from one reader whom I know particularly well: my mom. (Hi, Mom!) She said, "One thing I can tell from reading your blog is that you're having fun at your job." Yes! It's true. I'm thankful for the opportunity to experience joy in my work, and that reminds me of a string of quotations I've seen lately in IVP books for serious professionals.

Continue reading "In Good Humor"
Posted by Jon Boyd at 3:21 PM | Comments (1) are closed

December 5, 2012


While I'm still introducing myself, let me say a word about IVP, the organization I work for. That's short for "InterVarsity Press," and since I don't want you to become confused, a little cheat-sheet of things that IVP does not stand for might be helpful.

Continue reading "IVP ≠"
Posted by Jon Boyd at 1:16 PM | Comments (6) are closed

April 10, 2012

Praxis: Equipping Leaders for Ministry

IVP is proud to introduce Praxis, our new line of books specifically for ministry leaders. What does this mean for you? We're glad you asked.

God has called us to ministry. But it's not enough to have a vision for ministry if you don't have the practical skills for it. Nor is it enough to do the work of ministry if what you do is headed in the wrong direction. We need both vision and expertise for effective ministry. We need praxis.

Praxis puts theory into practice. It brings cutting-edge ministry expertise from visionary practitioners. You'll find sound biblical and theological foundations for ministry in the real world, with concrete examples of effective action and pastoral ministry. Praxis books are more than the "how to" —they're also the "why to."

We recognize that your ministry is not just what you do, but who you are, and Praxis will equip both your ministry and your soul.

IVP is excited to give you a sneak peek at the Praxis line-up this summer/fall:

by Steve Saccone

protege.jpgHow can today's leaders deepen and intensify the growing leadership skills of the next generation? With over a decade of experience, Steve Saccone provides a concrete vision for a protégé ministry where churches create a culture for young leaders to mature and develop in relational ministry skills. Available July 2012.

Community is Messy
by Heather Zempel

Community Messy.jpgCommunity is messy, and discipleship is hard. But by drawing from her background in engineering and her role as pastor of discipleship, Heather Zempel challenges you to look at community like a laboratory for experiments. By seeing the "mess" as raw material, you can begin creating something beautiful. Available September 2012.

Creating a Missional Culture
by J.R. Woodward

Missional Culture.jpgThe burden of Christian leadership is becoming more demanding, and burn-out is on the rise. J.R. Woodward calls for a radical revisioning of our churches, from leadership structure to equipping the laity. The result is not a church chasing the wind, but one entering the world and making disciples of Jesus. Available September 2012.

Stay current with Praxis at our website: www.ivpress.com/praxis.

Posted by Leah Kiple at 4:00 PM | Comments (1) are closed

February 13, 2012

New Faces at IVP

Over the last several months, IVP has welcomed new employees and redefined the roles of current employees to better serve our customers, authors and each other. It always helps to put a face with a name, so meet some of the new members of the IVP family and find out how they’re working to serve you better!

Caitie Johnston, Assistant Marketing Manager

caitie.JPGCaitie was recently promoted within the Sales & Marketing department to reflect her new responsibilities and the tremendous effort she puts into every aspect of her work. It’s up to Caitie to get each catalog, advertisement, brochure or flyer printed and mailed so you can be sure to find the book you’re looking for. Caitie also guides our authors through the sales and marketing process by gathering their information, creating marketing pieces for them, and connecting them to their audiences.

Caitie loves working with the other employees at IVP and likes keeping up with the new books we publish. She always has a book recommendation ready for practically everyone in her life.

Fun Fact: One summer, Caitie’s family took a trip to Phuket, Thailand and decided to spend one day at the beach. At the age of 10, Caitie learned what timeshares were all about when she and her sister unknowingly agreed to listen to a four-hour presentation. Needless to say, they never made it to the beach.

Annie Michaels, Sales Representative

amichaels.jpgAnnie started at IVP in November, immediately adding to the sales team with fresh ideas and vigor for her work. She finds a good home for our books by determining who would enjoy them and find them useful. Annie specifically works with bookstores at Christian colleges and seminaries to be sure students and professors have the resources they need. She also serves various ministries and denominations.

Annie came to faith as a college student through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and then continued on as an IVCF staff worker. Her history with InterVarsity made this role a natural fit, and she is thrilled to be working with the books that shaped her and helped her in her ministry to other students.

Fun fact: Annie spent four summers working at an eco-science museum dressing up as “Phoebe the Giant Water Flea.” She was a big hit with the kids.

Brannon Ellis, Associate Editor for Academic and Reference

Brannon.JPGBrannon started just last month as an associate editor, and he is currently the project editor for the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series. As an editor, he does a lot more than reading. Brannon works with potential authors to acquire books that will fit with IVP’s mission as well as our readers. He then edits these acquisitions by helping authors shepherd and shape their work from a great idea into a great book. Brannon is the author’s first link from the world of writing to the world of publishing, guiding them with the goal of providing our readers with the most informative, challenging, encouraging and enjoyable books we can offer.

Brannon knew he would enjoy working with the books themselves, but in his short time here, he is thankful for the thoughtfulness, passion and truly godly character of his coworkers.

Fun Fact: Brannon is ready to finally settle into this job after living in 10 different homes on two continents over the past 12 years. When he is not reading, moving or spending time with his family, he also enjoys traditional archery.

Rachel Neftzer Snavely, Academic Marketing Manager

Rachel.JPGRachel started at IVP as an intern in the sales and marketing department and was hired into the editorial department soon after as an editorial assistant. Now, as the Academic Marketing Manager, she rejoins the sales and marketing team. Rachel manages all the print and online advertising for IVP’s Academic and Formatio line books, getting the word out about our books to those who will benefit most.

Rachel is excited to promote the same books to professors and students that she loved so well during her academic career. In this short time in her new role, she already loves the people. Between coworkers, authors and other industry professionals, she can’t think of a better group of people to know and work with.

Fun Fact: Rachel was part of the Guinness Book of World Records’ largest simultaneous whoopee cushion sit at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in 2005. There were 5,983 participants.

Liz Klassen, Sales Manager for Academic Markets

Liz.JPGIt’s up to Liz to find those people who want and need our Academic books and then to find a way to get these books into their hands. She handles all the top sales customers like seminaries, distributors and bookstores, and connects with academic libraries. Liz works with professors to facilitate textbook adoption in the classroom and organizes and attends the major academic conferences.

Liz most enjoys working with professors, developing relationships with people from all backgrounds with the same interests in mission and theology. She also looks forward to discussing ideas of potential authors’ and working with them to shape their ideas into engaging books.

Fun Fact: Liz took voice lessons for ten years and for the last six has been studying songwriting and guitar at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

Rebecca Carhart, Editorial Assistant

Rebecca C.jpgAs a part-time editorial assistant, Rebecca supports the editorial department through projects that vary by the day. Her main responsibilities are proofreading sales and marketing pieces and revising preliminary manuscripts with an author’s corrections.

Rebecca loves getting an inside look at the multifaceted world of publishing and is encouraged to know that the books she helps create will serve the Church around the world.

Fun Fact: Rebecca grew up in rural Nebraska in a town of about 1,000. She was a Girl Scout for a full 12 years, though she wasn’t too crazy about selling cookies.

Posted by Leah Kiple at 12:35 PM

January 5, 2012

IVP's Top Ten of 2011

Before 2011 becomes too distant of a memory, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the most memorable IVP happenings of 2011. All in all it was an eventful year, and we look forward with anticipation to what 2012 has in store.

1) Snowpocalypse!


We started out the year with over two feet of snow falling in the Chicago area on February 1. IVP's offices were closed for a day while we let the snow plows dig us out. It wasn't fun to drive in, but when the sun finally came out it sure was pretty. Check out some other pictures of Chicago during the blizzard.

2) WildGoose Festival


In June IVP's Likewise Books sponsored the first Wild Goose Festival in Shakori Hills, NC. Likewise authors like Shane Claiborne, Mark Scandrette, Julie Clawson, Sean Gladding and Margot Starbuck were on hand for a festival of justice, spirituality, music and art. Missed it this year? Check out the video for some highlights, and don't forget to register for Wild Goose 2012 today to save your spot!

3) Release of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture


In July we released the highly anticipated new series, the Reformation Commentary on Scripture to critical acclaim. Mark Noll called it a "major publishing event" and Richard Mouw said it was "a godsend." Find out more about the series and learn how you can save 40% when you sign up today!

4) Remembering John Stott


On July 27, 2011 the world lost a true saint when John Stott passed into the presence of the Lord at the age of 90. His life and legacy were remembered at services around the world. He will be greatly missed.

5) Richard Foster eBook Sales Take Off

One week in August the ebook edition of Richard Foster's new Sanctuary of the Soul sold more copies on Amazon.com than the print edition! It's the first time an IVP ebook overtook the print edition, and we believe it's an exciting indication of things to come in 2012.

6) Andy Root's Popular Post


In September professor and author Andy Root wrote a post on our Online Pulpit blog postulating that "all pastoral ministry has gone the way of youth ministry." The post generated multiple thoughtful and enthusiastic comments on the importance of bringing theology back into ministry. We hope you will continue this conversation in 2012.

7) Award-Winning Covers


In October the 60th Annual Chicago Book Clinic Book and Media Show presented InterVarsity Press with four book design awards. Congratulations to our stellar designer Cindy Kiple for her beautiful cover and interior designs and to Jim Erhart for excellence in the manufacturing process. Covers honored included Clouds of Witnesses, Opening to God, Contemplative Vision and Defending Constantine.

8) Anti-Trafficking Tour with Daniel Walker

In October Daniel Walker, author of God in Brothel, partnered with Compassion International and Hagar International to tour the country and shed new light on the grim realities of enforced prostitution and the status of rescue efforts around the globe. Sharing from his own experience as an undercover investigator who has rescued hundreds of women and children from the sex industry, Daniel touched the hearts and opened the eyes of hundreds of attendees.

As a result of the tour:

  • Nearly 100 vulnerable children were sponsored through Compassion to prevent future human trafficking
  • Hagar collected hundreds of emails from attendees who were interested in joining the fight against human trafficking
  • Daniel received important media coverage to advance the awareness of this grave worldwide injustice

9) IVP Wins Recycling Award


In November IVP received the Commercial Recycling Award from the Village of Westmont for its successful commitment to improving the environment by recycling. It was an honor to be recognized at the November 7 Westmont Village Board Meeting as "the best and most improved big business recycler."

We've taken specific steps to institute an environmental stewardship program by educating and informing our team on how to be responsible with natural resources. In 2010, we recycled twelve thousand pounds of paper, and we allow the public to drop off paper in recycling dumpsters in our parking lot.

"We are committed to protecting the environment and to the responsible use of natural resources. Our employees are to be commended for their diligence," says Anne Gerth, IVP's director of production and fulfillment.

10) Biblica Acquisition


In December we acquired Biblica Books, the book-publishing arm of Biblica Worldwide and obtained 170 current and nearly 30 new Biblica Books titles. This includes Operation World, the definitive global prayer guide that's now in its seventh edition. "With this acquisition, IVP becomes an even stronger publisher for biblical and missions-oriented resources. We are grateful for this expansion opportunity," says IVP Publisher Bob Fryling.

You can browse all the Biblica books available on the new tab on our website.


What about you? As you look back on the year, what were the big life-shaping events you won't forget? And what are you looking forward to in 2012?

Posted by Rebecca Larson at 12:32 PM

August 5, 2011

Becoming Trade-Show Immersed

Thank you to Alisse Wissman for writing this post. Alisse is international sales coordinator and academic print publicist for IVP.

I'm a strong believer in full cultural immersion. When I decided to study abroad in college, I chose a program that would provide classes about the culture I was living in and allow me to physically experience that culture through travel, museums, language, and in particular, Irish dance.

So when I started working at IVP just over a year ago as the International Sales Coordinator, the question of my attendance at the International Christian Retail Show was raised. Would I like to attend? Could I handle such a big show within weeks of starting a new job? Would I be able to establish a rapport with customers by then?

"Absolutely," I said, laying down all my cards. I was in. Taking the leap. Fully immersed.

Not having heard of ICRS before, I did some research: the International Christian Retail Show is produced and hosted annually by the CBA, the association of Christian stores. It features a variety of Christian publishers and music/movie producers who set up booths featuring their artists and products. Store owners, distributors and media browse the aisles checking out the latest in Christian retailing.

It seemed simple, but what followed my very brief three-week training period was a small bit of cultural shock. Yes, I grew up in an evangelical home, and yes, I attended an evangelical Christian college, but was I ready for the art of evangelical Christian retail? Not particularly.

I was thrown into a world of Christian celebrity sightings, rows of booths and kiosks vying for my attention, mazes of author-signing lines and meetings with international customers on a noisy show room floor. Full immersion means no turning back, and there I was, in a completely new conference culture. But thankfully the experiment worked just the way I hoped it would, and adapting quickly, I gained brand new insights into the publishing world.

This year I felt much more prepared. I knew our customers and authors, had a year of experience and was quite excited to meet up with so many people whom I only see once a year.

Richard Foster.JPG

ICRS took place in Atlanta this year, and two IVP authors attended, both of whom I was thrilled to get to know in greater capacity. Richard J. Foster, author of the forthcoming Sanctuary of the Soul, and Adele Calhoun, who recently published Invitations from God, both gave interviews and signed copies of their books for fans, media and shop owners. It was lovely to see these stellar authors interacting with the people who so cherish their writing.

I was also able to spend time with both Richard and Adele throughout the show. Richard was full of wisdom about ICRS (which he has attended many times), giving me tips and pointers. Adele and I bonded over our shared love of Cape Cod, and she even gave me ideas on places to visit for my upcoming vacation!

Conversations with our international customers were also priceless. It's fascinating that our books, which generally are written in America, relate to people not just in other English-speaking countries, but even in places like Singapore and Ghana.

Highlights of this year's show: 

  • Sitting in on a radio interview during recording (this one between Richard Foster and Moody Radio)
  • Hosting a delicious author dinner at an Italian restaurant in downtown Atlanta (despite walking 1/3 mile in the sweltering heat)
  • Meetings over meals with our major distributors to share food and conversation (always about books, of course)

I think some cultural aspects of ICRS will remain the same--it will always be a place to meet authors and buy your favorite flavor of "Testamints"--but I hope it will continue to be a place where IVP can nurture relationships between authors and readers, and foster bonds between ourselves and the dedicated people who love to sell our books.

Posted by Leah Kiple at 9:30 AM | Comments (1) are closed

July 7, 2011

Inventory Day and 50% Off Sale!

June 30th marked the end of IVP's 2010-2011 fiscal year. As is our yearly custom, we held our annual Inventory Day on June 27th to start the new year and end the old one with an accurate account of our book inventory. The distribution center team worked tirelessly in the days leading up to the big day, and volunteers from around the office signed-up to help out with the counting. Check out these pictures from Inventory 2011:

Copy of IMG_0527.JPG Copy of IMG_0517.JPGCopy of IMG_0526.JPG

Copy of IMG_0518.JPG

For those who are wondering what exactly goes on in a publisher's distribution center, here are the facts. The IVP warehouse is 34,000 square feet and currently has 11 full-time employees. This year, these employees picked, packed and shipped over 2,538,000 books!

To receive and ship all these books, we use a ton of boxes. To be more precise, we used 29.84 tons of cardboard this year, or 58,710 pounds. All this was compacted and recycled, saving 264 cubic yards of landfill space, according to www.cardboardrecycling.org.

IVP is ready to start all over for 2011-2012, but first, we'd like to say thank you to our loyal customers by inviting you to participate in our 50% off Summer Sale! Make that summer reading list a little longer with a selection from IVP Books and IVP Academic. This offer is only available online through the end of July, so check it out today and save!

Posted by Leah Kiple at 10:05 AM

January 15, 2011

Preview Our Books at Scribd!

We want you to know, without doubt, that the book you buy is the book you need.

That’s why, for several years, we have been using Amazon Search Inside and Google Preview to allow you to view as much as 20% of any book. Now, we are pleased to share large, uncut excerpts and extras from our newest books for free download at Scribd (see www.scribd.com/intervarsitypress).

At Scribd, you will find a growing number of PDF excerpts of our latest titles that include

  • full color covers
  • tables of contents
  • short description pages with helpful links
  • full chapter picked by the editor

Books from authors like Ruth Haley Barton, Sean Gladding, Dallas Willard, Alister McGrath and N. T. Wright are all available for preview. And we plan to release at least four new titles a month from IVP Academic, IVP Books, Likewise and Formatio—all simultaneous to or even before the release of the print edition.

We have also posted our entire collection of catalogs.

Don’t see a book you’d like to preview? Contact us and we will do our best to post it quickly. Have more questions about a book? Try a link from the description page at the beginning of the PDF at Scribd or check IVP Online.

We hope that this will be a valuable service to you as you dig deeply into your faith—and, we hope, into InterVarsity Press books!

Posted by Nate Baker-Lutz at 11:40 PM

February 25, 2009

See the Movie; Don't Wait for the Book

Some of our books have been turned into movies! Well, not really, but we’ve created videos to profile a number of our books. They’re all viewable from our website, but many of them are also available on YouTube. Here’s the top ten, according to the number of times they’ve been viewed on that site as of this morning. Check them out to get a feel for the books and their authors.

1. Evil and the Justice of God

2. Basic Christianity, 50th Anniversary Edition

3. Just Courage

4. Culture Making

5. The Dawkins Delusion

6 (Tie). Misquoting Truth

6 (Tie). Strengthen the Soul of Your Leadership

8. Fabricating Jesus

9. Too Busy Not to Pray, 10th Anniversary Edition

10. Gracism

There are plenty others, along with videos related to the books but not posted by us, including James Choung’s two-part video describing his True Story. So if you find yourself thinking, I wonder what Love Is an Orientation author Andrew Marin’s voice sounds like, truck on over to YouTube and wonder no more.  

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 9:27 AM

December 11, 2008

IVP on YouTube

A number of videos about new and forthcoming IVP books are now available on YouTube. Here’s a preview of Ben Lowe’s upcoming Green Revolution:

You can also find videos about Andy Crouch’s Culture Making, Leighton Ford’s The Attentive Life, Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Albert Haase’s Coming Home to Your True Self, Gary Haugen’s Just Courage and much more. Check them out!

P.S. If you like the little clay globe on the front cover of Culture Making, check out this video of what someone does with it.

Posted by Al Hsu at 12:00 PM | Comments (1) are closed

December 2, 2008

Free shipping on IVP books, and other IVP news

Here’s a Christmas shopping special for IVP fans everywhere. Now through December 15, get free shipping on orders of $25 or more (US addresses only). Check out our Christmas gift guide for some suggestions and ideas.

And let me highlight a few IVP books that have been lauded recently. Publishers Weekly named Andy Crouch’s Culture Making as one of the best religion books of 2008. PW also gave starred reviews to Living Gently in a Violent World by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier and A Community Called Taize by Jason Santos. And PW also ran a brief profile of Hauerwas. Here’s an excerpt:

For his newest book, Living Gently in a Violent World (IVP, Nov.; PW starred review, Oct. 13), he teamed up with Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, a network of homes where people with and without mental disabilities live together as family. “Tenderness and gentleness characterize the life and work of Jean Vanier,” Hauerwas writes. But is Hauerwas himself gentle?

“Most people think I’m fairly confrontational,” he says. This is classic understatement: try finding a description of Hauerwas that doesn’t mention his colorful vocabulary, his feisty personality, his lifelong war against warmongers. “But my father—who was a bricklayer, and I was raised a bricklayer—was a very gentle man, and on the whole, I would like to think I’m very much like my father.”

Gentleness pervades life at L’Arche, where the pace slows to accommodate the weakest members. Vanier’s community-based approach appears simple, but “it has levels that, if we let it work on us, would transform our lives in ways we hardly want to imagine.” Still, Hauerwas cautions, “It’s very important never to romanticize L’Arche. This is hard work. It’s never without struggle.”

The Hauerwas/Vanier book is part of the new series Resources for Reconciliation, developed in partnership with the Duke Center for Reconciliation. (See this YouTube video about the Center and the series.) I was at Duke last month for some launch events with Vanier and Hauerwas. It was neat to see the two interact, and their book serves as an accessible entry point into their thinking.

Posted by Al Hsu at 11:20 AM

September 18, 2008

Four Hs, One Bible

Not surprisingly based on my profession—both in the sense of what I do and what I believe—some of the best books, according to my rubric of four Hs—“hard to read, humble, humorous and human,” are consolidated in the Bible.

That the best books are hard to read is confirmed by King Josiah, who when read the books of Moses by his royal secretary, "ripped his robes in dismay" and ordered his court to "pray to GOD for me and what's left of Israel and Judah. Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book" (2 Chronicles 34:19-20).

Humility pervades the scriptures, of course—not necessarily in the foreground, as a fair number of folks display precious little humility. But those cases generally serve as a kind of cautionary tale reinforcing the axioms that bubble up now and again: “Pride goes before a fall,” “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up,” and whatnot.

Beyond that, the Bible displays a savvy use of humor. The first laugh in the Bible is recorded in the book of Genesis, when old and childless Sarah overhears God promising her husband a son. She laughed out of bitterness, denying it to God's face when he called her on it. But the last laugh was on her, when soon enough she found herself groaning through childbirth and bearing a son, whom she named, appropriately enough, Isaac, or "Laughter." It's a perfect story, and it's just a scene. Plenty more where that came from.

And of course, it all comes together in the very humanness of the book—despite its divine origins. Much like its Messiah, the Bible shows divinity and humanity commingled in the best sense, so that in learning about God we learn something about ourselves, and in learning about ourselves, we learn something about God.

So there. You want to read something good, give the Bible a shot. And then, of course, dig around in the IVP catalog, if I do say so myself.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:10 AM

August 12, 2008

I Don't Want the Money, I Just Want the Stuff

I suppose it's flattering to know that what you do for a living can influence some people's decision about what to do for a living. I'd like to think it's a well-edited idea that triggers some unsuspecting reader's openness to the call of God on their lives. But as often as not, it's the perks, as playfully confessed by Mike Hickerson, associate director of the Emerging Scholars Network:

The first time I ever considered joining InterVarsity staff was when I discovered that staff received a discount on IVP books.

The enticement of cheap literature didn't seal the deal for Mike, but it apparently got him thinking. Read the whole piece here.

In the early days of InterVarsity's campus ministry, every field staffer got a copy of every IVP book. Of course, back then there were only about a hundred staff and we published maybe twenty to twenty-five books a year. There are now over a hundred books published every year, and over a thousand staff with ever-dwindling free time for reading. The times, they have been a changin'.

InterVarsity staff do still get a tasty discount and an occasional box of free stuff, however, so if that's what motivates you to "establish and advance . . . witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord," more power to you. Send your resume here.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:42 AM

December 20, 2007

For the Publisher Who Has Everything

Still shopping for the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone--the public face of your publishing house, the person who signs your checks, the person you have to cajole in order to get your pet projects approved, the person you have to answer to when your pet projects stain the carpet? Look no further than this spam e-mail I received today to find a gift for the publisher who has everything:

Hi David, a number of executives have engaged us to paint oil portraits of their CEO or Founders and I thought your company might like to have one too. It's a great way to recognize the CEO or Founder, it's a wonderful surprise, and always well received. It can be placed in your reception area, conference room or their home. We work discretely--photos are all we need. We can even paint the company's original location or existing building in the background.

My favorite part of this e-mail is the tag line at the end of the signature: "Mail back to decline further." I still haven't figured out what the company hopes to accomplish by encouraging people to more aggressively reject them (I suspect they're ultimately just trolling for live addresses to add to their database), but it's a phrase that resonates with me, since this week I've been putting the editorial equivalent of a lump of coal in the stockings of several would-be authors.

Part of the editorial gig is to review and often reject people's book proposals, and despite the spirit of the season, rejection waits for no man or woman. We reject proposals, for the most part, for very simple reasons: maybe it addresses a subject that's already been addressed, maybe the subject matter is too narrow a topic to justify the allocation of limited resources to produce and market it, maybe it doesn't dig deep enough into the issue, maybe the author doesn't have enough of a platform to draw an audience.

I'm always tempted to keep writing when I reject a proposal: to convince the author that I'm right, to minimize the emotional impact of the rejection. But generally a rejection from a publisher is mostly about the publisher, not about the author.

In a very real sense, every book proposal is like a gift for the publisher who has everything. InterVarsity Press, for example, has sixty years of publishing behind us, and our job is to acquire and publish books that make sense within that long tradition--not books that entrench us in some doctrinaire foxhole and not books that send us way out on a theological limb, but books that fit us as we continue to contribute to the evangelical conversation.

These are core questions of publishing identity: who we are, where we've come from, where we find ourselves in the current cultural context, where we see ourselves headed. To answer these questions is to say yes to some books but necessarily to say no to many. It's as simple as that; to decline further is often simply to belabor the point.

Still, I'm given pause by the language of publishing decisions: rejection is such a harsh word, and no matter how you slice it, declining to publish a book is a rejection. It's a little like unwrapping a gift from that special someone, harumphing and shouting derisively, "Pass!" I'm reminded of a Dilbert comic strip I saw early in my career: the evil Dogbert has taken on the job of evaluating manuscripts, and is taking considerable glee in writing rejection letters: "I hated your manuscript so much that I've now started to hate you." That's taking "decline further" to an inappropriate extreme, I think.

So please, if you've received a rejection letter from us this year, be assured that we don't hate you. It really is not you--it's us.

On the other hand, if you do find a book contract from us under your Christmas tree, please don't exchange it! Receive it with joy and the following benediction:

May your days be merry and bright
And may you get off your butt and write.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 10:40 AM

Get Email Updates

You'll get an email whenever a new entry is posted to Behind the Books

Subscribe to Feeds

Got a Book Idea?

Please follow our submissions guidelines. We cannot respond to book proposals or inquiries within the context of this blog.