Monday, April 07, 2008

Q & A On My Books

I was asked these questions on the CHNI discussion board:

Dave, where and how do you get you material for your books? Do you use public libraries, university libraries, Rome, on-line, Etc.?

Virtually all my sources are from the Internet and my own library of some 2000 books. A lot of the stuff is public domain and much of that is online now. Occasionally I use old notes taken from library books (e.g., Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit or University of Detroit: a Jesuit college). On one occasion I borrowed about twenty books from my friend Al Kresta (now a Catholic talk show host).

My last book about the Church fathers was really easy in that regard because the entire 38-volume set of the fathers is online. And there are more patristic resources online beyond that, too. That book was largely cut-and-paste. I consider it more of a reference work. Most of my writing was in the first chapter, that was more than 100 pages on the crucial Bible and Tradition issue.

Also, which languages do you work in/with?

English. That was easy . . . I have some knowledge of Latin from going to Latin Mass for more than 17 years now.

Also (#2), how long does it take you to crank out one of your books?

It depends on whether I'm doing it on my own or with an editor. The first (Biblical Defense of Catholicism) took three years (first draft: 1994; revised, shorter version: 1996) because I would write a chapter for a few weeks and then a few months later write another one. At first, I was using a typewriter. I didn't even have a computer yet. I had a full-time delivery job in those days. Originally I wasn't even intending to write a book. I was doing "treatises" to present to my Protestant friends. Then folks started suggesting that I make a book out of it, and so I did! The Catechism came out after I finished the first draft (750 pages!), so I incorporated references to that in the revised edition.

Many subsequent books were compilations from Internet writings so they just took a few days to edit and put together. The hard, time-consuming work had all been previously done, over years of constant posting on my website.

The last two with Sophia Institute Press (The Catholic Verses and The One-Minute Apologist) took three to four months each of solid work with my wonderfully helpful editor, Todd Aglialoro. The last one was very difficult because I had to condense every topic into two pages and follow a standard format for each section. Tough! But very rewarding when done . . .

The fathers' book took about three weeks because of the nature of it. My latest is about Martin Luther. I've worked on that for a little over a week and it'll probably take only about two weeks more if I can get solid work time in. I can usually crank out a chapter a day (there will be ten total). Again, it is mostly modified from existing materials: predominantly editing rather than new writing. I follow a standard formatting format with my Lulu books: Times New Roman 12, standard spacing, chapter title size, etc.

Also (#3), how many books have you written and how many do you have on the market at the present? (Aren't you glad I am NOT the snoopy type?) ;)

Hey, questions are good. They give me something to do and every author loves to talk about his books! They feel almost like "children."

At present I've written 15: four with "real" publishers (Sophia Institute Press: 3 / Our Sunday Visitor: 1) and the other eleven self-published with Lulu Press (a real class operation, and easy to do, and no cost!). The Luther book (Lulu) will be #16, and Sophia is talking about another one, about "how and where we got the Bible". That would be #17. Other topical books are planned from existing materials (Eucharist, Mary, possibly the papacy).

I also have chapters in two other books (Surprised by Truth; The Catholic Answer Book of Mary).

All 15 are on the market, in paperback. I paid $100 each for five or six of the Lulu books to be listed on amazon. Then I discovered that didn't help much, so I didn't do it for the rest. My Sophia books and The New Catholic Answer Bible are often in the Top 100 on amazon for the category of Catholic theology (most of the time one or more appear in the Top 25). I hope to soon do some advertising, to get more sales, especially for my own Lulu books. That'll probably be on the Catholic Exchange website.

I also sell all 11 of my self-published books as e-books (Word or PDF): 11 for $15. I'll be adding the Luther book to that, making it 12 for $15. One can also purchase any of the Lulu books as a PDF file for $3.00, through Lulu, or as a paperback ($15.95 or $16.95, depending on length). I sell Biblical Defense as an e-book separately for $5.00. The other two Sophia books and the Bible are available in paperback only.

Thanks for asking! It's a great way to make a living: to be able to share your thoughts and have people actually be interested enough to read them and sometimes even be influenced by the material. It's been a long haul but I'm really happy with my life and my career as it stands now. All glory to God for His gifts and provisions!

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