More Fun with Jana Riess: Self-Publishing

Part Two of Jana Riess’s interview with me has to do with self-publishing:

What do publishers add to the equation for authors nowadays?

Supposedly, traditional publishers have this thing called a marketing department.

That’s hilarious. That’s just hilarious.

I know, I know. Silly me, Pollyanna that I am. They have a way to distribute books to retailers that you and I lack. But Amazon, and B&N, and the iTunes store take care of part of that problem by going directly to consumers. I’ve been blogging since 2004, and I get good traffic on my blog. Here’s what’s ironic for me: That traffic is one of the things that would interest a traditional publishing house, but it’s that very traffic that makes me think I don’t need a traditional publisher. If I’ve got x number of thousand people who read my blog every month, people I can reach directly and might buy my book, what does a publisher bring to help me find more readers?

via Publish Your Book on Amazon: A Q&A with Tony Jones (Part 2) – Flunking Sainthood.

Jana Riess Interviews…Me!

Jana has posted part one of her interview with me.  This part is about my new book.  Part two will be about self-publishing.  Here’s a taste:

What do you identify as the shortcomings of the ECM?

In chapters 4 and 5, that’s where I land the plane. The reader has suffered through the literature review and the definition of terms in those early chapters. Later in the book, I argue that the ECM has done some cool stuff ecclesially, but that’s been basically these leaders intuiting their way into the practices. The practices didn’t come out of robust theological reflection, and what worries me is that if they lack a sophisticated theological framework, they will come and go. I want to provoke other leaders in the movement to do more theological background work, the deep work that one needs to do. For instance, late in the book, I point out that a thoroughgoing trait across the movement is the lack of any kind of sacred/secular divide – the traditional view that there is sacred place and secular space, or sacred practices and secular practices. I think this has to do with the theology of panentheism, which Moltmann as well as others have developed – the idea that there is no aspect of creation that is lacking in God.

via The Church Is Flat: A Q & A with Tony Jones (Part 1) – Flunking Sainthood.

Amazon’s New Tablet and the Future of Books

Today Amazon will debut their new tablet, the Kindle Fire.  My guess is that it’s going to be quite awesome, and that it’s going to be $100 less than and iPad.  Also, Amazon is likely going to throw in some goodies, like lifetime Amazon Prime with some versions.  That would be pretty awesome, too.

Jana Riess interviewed me about my new book and about my adventure in self-publishing for her blog, and she’ll post the interview next week.  I think I’ll follow up with some thoughts of my own on self-publishing and e-publishing next week.  But, in the meantime, the today’s announcement about the Kindle Fire has inspired John Biggs at Tech Crunch to prophecy a timeline of the future of books:

[Read more…]

Do You Hate Mormons?

Jana Riess tips us off to an interesting finding in the much-discussed tome, American Grace.  She tells us that Mormons are the third-most-hated religious group in America.  She sums up the findings: “Mormons like everyone else, while almost everyone else dislikes Mormons.”

But Jana doesn’t stop there.  She goes on to chide her co-religionists to change.  For one thing, she has already asked the church to change its stance on homosexuality.  Now she goes further:

it would help if we stopped regarding ourselves as the finest people on the planet. We ought to take a long, hard look at the fact that we voted our own group tops in this research. It’s one thing to be proud of our religious group and its teachings, but it’s another thing entirely to communicate, as many Mormons seem to, that we feel we have a monopoly on religious truth and strong families. A dose of humility is in order here.
I’ve been in communication with Jana recently over my own discomfort at Mormon history and teaching, prodded by my recent reading of Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, about the religious murder of a mother and child in 1984 by Dan and Ron Lafferty.  It’s a compelling and disturbing book, and I imagine it’s all the more so to a member of the LDS Church.  It is also controversial, as Jana and others have told me.
I’ve read three Krakauer books this year, and I honestly think this is the weakest of the three — though it’s a great read.  It’s simply too convenient of a connection to make from a violent, fundamentalist sect of a religion to the adherents of the mainstream religion.  It’s like saying that the Westboro Baptist Church idiots are representative of 2.1 billion Christians.  Here’s the New York Times hesitation,
However valid Krakauer’s linkage of past and present, it steepens an already formidable storytelling challenge. The contemporary parts of the book -skipping from the Lafferty case to sketches of two fundamentalist towns to a late-breaking chapter on Elizabeth Smart — can themselves disorient the reader with disparate detail. (From a strictly literary standpoint, polygamy’s main downside is its creation of lots of characters with the same last name.) With long historical sections mixed in, the momentum dissipates further. Almost every section of the book is fascinating in its own right, and together the chapters make a rich picture, but there is little narrative synergy among them.
In fact, this is the very thing that Terry Eagleton, the atheist-Marxist philosopher, accused “Ditchkins” of doing in his excellent book, Reason, Faith, and Religion: Reflections on the God Debate — I’m currently listening to the lectures on which that book was based, available on iTunes U.

However, my strange discomfort with Mormonism continues.  So Jana and I have talked about a blogalogue in the second half of 2011.  Watch this space for more details…