A Final Word on my Book, Left Turn: Why I Owe a Thank-You to Ronald Reagan
Today marks my last day as a guest blogger for Ricochet. I can report, however, that I’ve caught the blogging bug. Next week I will guest blog for Volokh Conspiracy. And Peter R. and Rob L. should prepare themselves: I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I beg them to allow me to blog more on Ricochet.
Earlier this week, Peter R. introduced me by quoting the first sentence of my book. I will end my guest blogging with the last sentence of my book. That sentence notes how Ronald Reagan indirectly helped me to get my book published.
I’ll state that sentence in a moment. But, first, here’s some background.
I had a somewhat difficult time getting my book published. Lots of conservatives tell horror stories about how book publishers discriminate against them—sometimes almost blackballing them. But it wasn’t my conservativeness that made things difficult for me—if anything my conservativeness helped me. Instead, the problem was my professor-ness.
Specifically, we professors can be a little boring sometimes, and the early drafts of the book definitely read like a professor wrote them. One anecdote probably best illustrates how boring professors can be. My wife, while in labor with our first child, had just received a dose of pain-relieving drugs. After the near-instant relief, I asked if I could do anything for her. “I just want to go to sleep,” she said. “Tell me about your research.”
However, with the help of my wife, my literary agent Teresa Hartnett, and several good friends I think I overcame much of my professor-ness. I wrote some chapters that contained some compelling anecdotes and interesting stories—enough so that, I believe, I didn’t sound completely like a professor. Yet, nevertheless, I still was a professor. And this made publishers skeptical about whether people would want to read my book.
The following paragraphs, the last four of my book’s acknowledgments, describe my next steps in getting the book published:
I am also very grateful for the help of Marinka Peschmann, one of the agents at the Hartnett Agency. Peschmann was instrumental in helping me find a publisher. Once I began to shop around the proposal, I received only mild interest. Even the publishers who showed some interest understood that since I was not a big name—and only a rookie at bookwriting—none of the other publishers would act quickly in signing me to a contract. Consequently no publisher felt an urgency to read my proposal thoroughly. I was thus in a Catch-22. Publishers would not read my proposal thoroughly because they felt no urgency to do so. And publishers felt no urgency to read my proposal, because they surmised that no other publisher would do that.
Enter Peschmann … and Ronald Reagan. Peschmann decided to shop my proposal at CPAC, the annual conference for the Conservative Political Action Committee. CPAC was becoming known as a great place for conservatives to shop their book proposals. Even better, Peschmann told publishers that she would shop my proposal at CPAC. One of those publishers was St. Martin’s Press. Shortly before the conference, some of its representatives, including Phil Revzin, asked to have an “exclusive” at the proposal for a few days. That is, St. Martin’s would promise to take an urgent look at the proposal, while we would agree not to shop it with any other publisher for a few days. Thus, Marinka and CPAC broke the Catch-22. Just before the CPAC conference began, St. Martin’s agreed to be my publisher.
Of course, none of this would have happened—or it would have at least been significantly delayed—if CPAC didn’t exist. Meanwhile, many people believe that CPAC wouldn’t exist if Ronald Reagan hadn’t decided to attend its conference multiple times during his presidency.
So a final word of gratitude goes to Ronald Reagan. Not only did he end communism and make 300 million people more free and prosperous, he helped me to find a publisher. It’s hard to thank him enough.
[From Left Turn by Tim Groseclose, PhD. Copyright © 2011 by the author and reprinted by kind permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC. All rights reserved.]