Publisher Requirements

I’ve been following the adventures of a very interesting person named Hemant, the “friendly athiest”, who has been visiting different churches, bible studies and prayer meetings and writing about them. His thoughts are fascinating and I highly recommend reading them, whatever your faith. Some of the places he visited sound very interesting and reading it always makes me consider doing something similar (although I haven’t yet). Check out his thoughts and the thoughts of Jim, a Christian who is helping with the project, at Off the Map.

Yesterday Jim posted that he had been contacted by a major publisher who was interested in publishing a book about such a project. Hemant wasn’t interested, so Jim posted the requirements on the blog and asked if anyone was interested. The project sounds wonderful to me. I’m incredibly impressed with what I’ve read on the blog and if the book seemed even close to this quality of thinking, discussing and writing I would absolutely buy and read it. My concerns were with the requirements. I actually got angry on reading them. Most of the people who know me will see my imediate reason why, but I’ll post them anyway before I say any more.

Publishers Requirements (note these are non negotiable for this project- no hate emails please)

Male

Atheist

30 or under
Friendly
Can Write
Can work Sundays
Good with Media

Ok, I can totally appreciate the requirements about writing and avalibility. Obviously it really only works if the person is friendly, and clearly if they weren’t an atheist this wouldn’t work the way they want. Based on those requirements, I don’t qualify. That’s fine. While I am interested in going to visit churches, I’m not remotely interested in writing a book about it as my reasons for doing so would be deeply personal and I would feel compelled to be a little more objective for a book.

The other two requirements that I haven’t mentioned as yet are what angered me.

Why do they want someone under 30 years old? Are they looking for a college student or something? Then why not just say that? And what possible difference could it make to the book? I think that finding a person with the right goals and attitudes (and an open mind) are what matter and see no reason that it should matter if they are 29 or 31! Age should really play no part in this.

The other requirement that infuriated me was the requirement that the writer be male. What possible difference could sex have on the project? Why is a woman less qualified or acceptable for this simply by virtue of be female? That makes no sense! It shouldn’t affect writing ability or objectivity. It shouldn’t affect how open to new ideas and accepting of other people someone is. It really shouldn’t make any difference at all and I see no real, acceptable reason the publisher could possibly have for requiring it. Women are atheists too (I know a few, actually) and would be every bit as qualified to write such a book as men are. I really don’t understand this requirment and it is very insulting. I am seriously debating about if I would buy such a book, were it to be published, with the requirement that the author be male. If I sent in a reseme for this project with no mention of my sex (and a genderless name, unlike Katharine, obviously) and was otherwise completely qualified, would they really reject me, even if they had decided to hire me for the project, when they found out that I’m a woman? That makes no sense whatsoever.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see what comes of the project and decide on what I want to do about it later. There isn’t much that I can do now. If I had the name of the publisher, I might write a letter, but with little hope that anyone would pay attention to it or care. So I guess for now I have to wait and see.

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