Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


How to Publish a Book


Anyone who seeks to publish a book will have to deal with the requirements of book publishers.  These publishers are all listed on the internet and can be found on any computer. Some publishers are only interested in cookbooks, others in history books , others in psychology, etc. Therefore all prospective authors need to begin by asking publishers in a short letter whether or not they may be interested in the authorís manuscript.

Before doing that, an author must be certain that he is in command of the English language. Since English is a subject causing more failures in high schools and colleges than any other subject, it is reasonable to give some thought to our knowledge of English grammar, sentence structure, syntax, and vocabulary. It is certain that no publisher will accept a manuscript written in poor English. In fact, authors need to write at a superior level which nevertheless is understandable to prospective readers. If a book is aimed at the general reading public, it is unwise to use unusual words, Latin or Greek phrases, or difficult formulas. In any case, publishers who answer a letter of inquiry positively then  want the author to supply the following:

The probable length of the manuscript.  

The competence of the author. This means that the publishers want to know why the author believes he has the necessary background to deal with the subject of the proposed book.  

Also required is an overall outline of the entire book as well as a brief, two sentence description of each chapter. A table of contents needs to be included, and, in addition, a list of books which may compete with the present proposal.   

An introduction and two finished chapters are also required.  

Since all of this is needed to induce the publishers to issue a contract, it is evident that the author needs to have the entire project in his mind before it is even written. Here is  the principal obstacle to writing a book. Many would be writers cannot conceive of the whole manuscript before it is written. Yet, that is necessary if the book is to be accepted.

Because manuscripts are now written on computers, a knowledge of computers is vital to write a long manuscript. Unless the author has a good understanding of computers, he needs to find someone willing to deal with the unreliability of these devices. Computers cause endless difficulties in writing anything and will need a large amount of corrections and adjustments in the course of writing three hundred or more pages.  

Here is an example of the contents of my thirtieth book.  

American Judaism in the 20th and 21st  Centuries

By Gerhard Falk



The Jewish Religion in America

The Jewish Family

The Feminization of the American Jewish Community

Jewish Education and the Education of American Jews

Social Stratification in the American Jewish Community

Jews in the American Military

American Jews in Politics

Jews in the American Movie Industry

American Jewish Song writers

The influence of literature on the American Jewish community

American Jewish inventors and scientists

American Jews in Sports

The Future of the American Jewish Community



 All academic books contain footnotes. A footnote is found at the bottom of each page or at the end of the book. Footnotes indicate the source of the authorís arguments and also serve to let the reader have an opportunity to read more concerning the topic at hand. A typical footnote looks like this:

1.  Gerhard Falk, The Jew in Christian Theology, McFarland, 1993, p. 5.

Each book also has a bibliography. That is an alphabetical list, by author, of all books or articles consulted. The bibliography is at the end of the book. The word bibliography is Greek.  The ancient Greeks imported wide palm leaves from the city of Biblos in Lebanon. These palm leaves were dried. Then the Greek authors wrote on the dried leaves, rolled them into scrolls, and saved them by the name Biblos, which became Bible in English.

Now that you have some idea of how you can write a book, keep in mind that there is one more requirement needed to publish a book. That requirement is PATIENCE. Of course, the computer will cause all kinds of trouble; of course you will forget an important argument until you remember it later; of course you will spell an authorís name two different ways, etc. But it will be worth it. When you see your name on the cover of a book you have written, you will be thrilled and happy and ready to do it again.

Shalom u'vracha.

If you wish, you can go to Google Scholar, insert my name, and see a list of my thirty books, forty-three journal articles, and more.  

 Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The American Jewish Community in the 20th and 21st Century (2021).

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