Coffeehouse Theology Event at CLC Bookcenter in Moorestown, NJ

coffeehousetheology230 The press release for my next book event follows:

South Jersey native Ed Cyzewski will be discussing his book Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life at the CLC Bookcenter in Moorestown, NJ on Saturday, September 25th at 11 AM.

Cyzewski will address where our beliefs about God come from, including the impact that cultural values have in shaping Bible reading. The talk will cover how to study the Bible, how the Bible shapes our beliefs, and how our beliefs impact our actions. Coffeehouse Theology is an ideal introduction to theology for Christians who want to dig deeper into what they believe.

Reviewer David Swanson writes in Leadership Journal, “I would recommend the book to almost any member of my church.” Publisher’s Weekly writes that Cyzewski “urges readers to explore theology while reassuring them that they don’t have to become postmodern philosophers: theology can be considered, as it were, in the coffeehouse,” and adds, “Personal anecdotes of his own growth in faith are disarming in their honesty”

Ed Cyzewski has contributed to several books including the NLT Holy Bible Mosaic and written for numerous magazines such as Adirondack Life and Leadership Journal. He blogs at For reviews and sample chapters of Coffeehouse Theology, visit

The CLC Bookcenter is located on 401 RT 38 across from the Moorestown mall. For more information, call 856-866-2688

Interview with Lisa Delay on A Path to Publishing

Spirituality expert, comedian, and writer extraordinaire Lisa Delay kicks off the blog tour for A Path to Publishing today with her interview of me. She asks some great questions that should give publishing hopefuls some helpful ideas and a good idea of what they’ll find in the book.

Do you have your own publishing question? Drop by Lisa’s blog and post it in the comments. Between the two of us we’ll try to answer it.

Over the following week other bloggers will be posting on the book, conducting interviews, and possibly even hosting a giveaway or two.

My thanks to Lisa for her help in spreading the word. Make sure you check out her various endeavors:

How to Handle Rejection as a Writer: It’s Not You, It’s Me…

Rejection is not always a reflection on you or your work. In fact, there are many good books and articles rejected each day for a variety of reason.

Good books are rejected because of similar books.

You may have a great idea and you may be an incredible writer, but if someone has written a similar book, especially for your publisher, you may be out of luck. In addition, there may be projects in a publisher’s pipeline that you could never know about unless you submitted your proposal.

That isn’t to say that different publishers will back away from your book if there are similar books. You just need to show that it has a unique message or perspective that distinguishes it from its competition.

Good books are rejected because of different focuses at a publisher.

You may have addressed an important topic, and that topic may be within the interests of a publisher, but perhaps you wrote a book that didn’t strike the right angle or genre for that publisher. One publisher may aim for literary books, while others may opt for the academic route.

Good books are rejected because of cuts or changes with editors.

Sometimes publishers may change their focus or even eliminate a line of books. With new editors come new criteria for accepting books. Editorial changes will mean a book that may have been accepted a few months ago will no longer work for a publisher. Timing and luck are huge factors when pitching book and article query letters.

Good books are rejected because editors don’t always know what they want.

While publishers have guidelines and specifications, they don’t always know what book would work best. This is something that some editors themselves have admitted.  See editorial veteran Leonard Goss’ endorsement for my new book A Path to Publishing.

That doesn’t mean that all editors are fickle and indecisive, and you should never tell them what they want. Rather, they always aren’t able to know what exactly will work and what will not. There are plenty of stories of best-selling books passing through a series of rejections before finding success. The moral is that editors are human like you and me, and that publishing is not an exact science—as it should be.

Good books are rejected because of publicity concerns.

Even if you’ve written a great book, some publishers may reject your proposals because they fear they’ll be unable to market it to a particular group of people or that you aren’t popular enough to promote it. Those are big problems for writers to deal with, but at least they aren’t necessarily marks of a poorly written book.

In addition, if you are able to write a good book, you can certainly work on raising your profile and reworking your material so that it speaks more directly to an audience of readers. These are big problems, but they don’t spell doom for you as a writer.

Publishing Win: What Agents and Editors are Looking For

Editors and agents want one thing.

They receive query after query with all kinds of book pitches, but no matter what the topic may be, they are always looking for the same thing.

Literary agent David Black spoke three weeks ago at an event on the future of publishing at the Northshire Bookstore, and he spoke with great passion about his work as a literary agent. While he acknowledged the difficulties of publishing right now and the need to pick his authors carefully based on their platforms, experience, and publishing credentials, he said one thing that caught my attention.

“Don’t give agents and editors a pitch, give us something we will love.”

Agents and editors are in their business because they love books. If you can deliver on that one enormously important thing they’re looking for, you’re well on your way.

Though publishing houses need to keep a close watch on their profit margins, they are always looking for a book that connects with them. Can you write a book that your readers will love?

Book Deal Fail: Lessons in Publishing Every Writer Needs to Know

I think would-be authors spend so much time working on their masterpieces that they may well be blind-sided when their book deals fall apart. It can happen to every author and aspiring author.

This past summer a book deal of mine fell to pieces in grand fashion over the course of a week. It was quite difficult, but at the same time I think matters ended on pretty good terms for all parties involved.

The planets had aligned perfectly for the deal to fail. So it goes.

Here are a few lessons to save in your bookmark folder so that you’re prepared should this ever happen to you:

Book Deals Can Fail, and It’s OK

Your career can survive and you can end the deal on good terms with your publisher. Really, I mean it. It can be a bit embarrassing to admit that your deal fell apart, but you can survive it. If you’re approaching your career wisely, you’ll already have another project or two in mind that you can jump into.

Give Yourself Time to Process

I needed about three days to process my situation before I felt able to have a constructive conversation and make a good decision. Expect to be angry and a bit low. It will pass, and in fact, it has to pass. You have books to write!

Seek Advice

In my own case I consulted my agent and several other agents at her firm. They helped me sort through my options and the appropriate responses. Every e-mail I sent to the publisher was filtered through them first. In addition, there were other authors and publishing professionals who offered me some good advice and even did some helpful research on my behalf.

Know Your Publisher’s Interests and Trends

If a publisher wants to terminate your book deal, take some time to look at it from the publisher’s perspective and examine the publisher’s concerns and goals. Perhaps you and your book aren’t a good fit with this publisher for the coming years anyway.

Prepare a Plan B, C, and D

Your book project does not have to die with this contract. Spring into action and seek out other publishers and if not another major publishing house, look into smaller press, ebook, and self-publishing options. The technology and marketing tools are out there for many authors to sell quite a few books on their own.

Even if your book never sees the light of day, you can always cannibalize chapters for submission to magazines that may provide a larger audience of readers and a comparable amount of money in the long run. Perhaps you can also steal a few chapters and stories to write your next book, which you should have already been working on anyway.

End On Good Terms

Life is too short to play the blame game. Publishing is a really tough business and sometimes book deals fall apart. Maybe it was your fault and maybe it wasn’t.

You gain nothing by burning your bridges with your former publisher, and you also never know how well connected they may be in the larger publishing world. Even if you lost the deal, you can still hold your head up high by moving on and resolving to make the next deal work.

Selecting Influencers for a Book Release: The Solution

Wrapping up my 3-part series on selecting influencers for a book release…

The goal of an influencer mailing for a newly published book is to put your book into the hands of folks with trusted names, contact with a large audience, and a willingness or ability to endorse your book. Missing any of these three things will mean your book either ends up on someone’s shelf or at least doesn’t reach a wide group of potential readers.

The solution is to carefully balance the kinds of influencers you contact. It is rare to find an influencer who meets all three criteria perfectly. Nevertheless, it’s worth sending copies to well-known influencers in the media or in your field, especially if you’ve had contact with them in the past.

Let’s say you send out 5-15 of your 50 influencer copies to folks in this camp. Maybe they won’t have the time to take a look at your book, but should they endorse it, you’ll have a chance to reach a broader audience. It may be worth taking a chance on some radio personalities, especially if their shows connect with your potential readers.

The next 20-30 copies should go to those who have a solid following or niche that trusts them and will be willing to interact with your work. There are a lot of very good blogs and podcasts out there with readers and listeners who may very well give your book a shot. In fact, because these are highly interactive networks with a higher trust factor than perhaps those with a bigger name, the potential readers in these networks may be more willing to buy your book.

I think this segment is easy to overlook because their reach may be in the hundreds or low thousands. However, keep in mind that these influencers will be easier to contact, more likely to interact with you, and have a lot more to gain if you can provide content for their blogs/podcasts as opposed to a major media player with lots of options for their shows. In addition, providing these bloggers and podcasters with a free book or two to give away always helps.

Lastly, never underestimate those the power of those with small audiences who are still very trusted and willing to endorse your book. Be sure to set aside about 10-15 copies for this group. With Twitter and Facebook even the smallest blogs can easily plug a book among hundreds of people. If you can provide an influencer who is passionate about your book with some great interviews, excerpts, and a free copy to review, your book may receive a lot more attention than a brief endorsement from a well-known influencer.

At the end of the day, it’s most important that authors connect with influencers who are passionate about their work and willing to talk about it. If you can put a free copy of your book into the hands of someone willing to talk about it, you’ve done the most important part of an influencer mailing.

Nevertheless, your work is not done. Authors need to make themselves available to help each influencer talk about their work, supporting them, and driving traffic to their web sites. Book publicity is always a two-way street. There is no room for the entitled author.


Selecting Influencers for a Book Release: The Problem

Continuing my 3-part series on selecting influencers for a book release…

When you begin selecting influential people to help spread the word about your book, keep in mind the three qualities that you’re looking for: trusted names, contact with a large audience, and a willingness or ability to endorse your book.

In compiling my own list of influencers I worked very hard to contact those with large audiences and a trusted name, but I didn’t necessarily gauge the likelihood that they would plug my book. Keep in mind that the bigger a name, the more books he/she will receive. They can’t read every book that comes onto their desks, and so the question is, “Will this person both read and talk about my book?”

If an influencer doesn’t read your book, it’s nothing personal. There are only so many hours in a day. In addition, some may hope to read and talk about your book with their audience only for your book to fall through the cracks. Within days of receiving my book one well-meaning influencer realized he wouldn’t have time to read it and so he gave it away on his web site.

No exactly the ideal publicity you’re aiming for.

And so the challenge you face is balancing the audience size and trust of an influencer with that person’s ability to plug book whether in conversations or in an online or on-air review. However, the right kind of influencer for your book may not have that large of an audience and may even look quite different from what you expcet.

The next installments in this series…

  • Selecting influencers for a book release: The Solution


How to Write a First Draft of a Book

Writing a book is a long, drawn-out process. It’s hard to say when you’re “done” other than that moment when the book arrives in your mail box and sits on your coffee table like a long lost friend. Nevertheless, along the way there are certain mile stones to aim for and to celebrate.

Yesterday I wrapped up the first draft of my next book Saving Evangelicals from Themselves. The first draft often entails the lion’s share of the book writing process. There is research, brainstorming, organizing, stream of consciousness writing, editing, reorganizing, more writing, and more editing and polishing.

By 5 PM yesterday I had my draft completely finished and ready for the publisher. It even came close to the 60,000 word count with a total of 61,610 words. I’d like to share a little bit about the process of writing a first draft of a book. I hope this helps as you plunge into your own projects.

Read… A Lot

You don’t need to quote directly from every book or cite everything, but read, skim, or browse as many books as you can in your topic area. You want to communicate your own ideas in fresh ways, while giving credit where it is due.


Set up Google Alerts for your subject areas, read and tag articles using, dig through surveys, and look up articles in key papers and magazines such as Time, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and any other magazine closely related to your topic. For myself I keep a close eye on Christianity Today.

Organize and Outline

You need to know where your book is going, and so a rough outline is necessary. Don’t be afraid to delete, add, or reorder chapters as you set out. Better now than later. Set up a rough idea of each chapter’s trajectory.

Write, Write, Write

I like to just cut loose and write a ton once I have some research and outlines to provide general guidance. I end up scrapping at least 25-35% of what I write, but the core that remains is generally pretty solid. Let your mind wander, write about things you care about, and think deeply about your topic. Always keep in mind your one-two sentence summary of your book from your proposal (you did put together a proposal first, right? If not, do that NOW!)

Fill In Gaps

After you have a good chunk of material together, you need to fill in the gaps with more research, quotes, and stories. Try to get a sense of the flow of your chapter. Are you on target? Can readers follow with you? Are they still interested? Have you backed up your claims? This is the time to ask hard questions and to be critical of your work. I have a scrap folder for each book with a document that matches each chapter. Many scrap documents have at least 7 pages of material in them. That means you need to keep adding content to your chapters, making sure you’ve sharpened your points.

Seek Opinions

When you’re relatively confident you have a solid chunk of chapter, seek out a friend or two to read it. Ask them to point out places where stories don’t work, ideas need to be developed, or the whole thing falls off course. I recommend at least two different readers since people can be very different in how they read something.

Never Stop Researching

Hopefully you’ve been keeping up on your field while you’re doing the heavy part of the writing. By saving key stories and articles on I have saved myself on several occasions. You never know when a crucial piece of information will surface.

The Critical Read-Through

Keeping in mind your book’s focus, reader-benefits, and goals, read through each chapter with a critical eye to anything that doesn’t fit, discredits you as a writer, loses your readers, or doesn’t sound quite right. Kill adverbs without mercy, tighten up sentence structure, delete a lot, insert strong verbs, and make sure you begin and end with bang.

Hit Send, Tell a Friend, and Buy Yourself a Treat

It’s a wonderful feeling to hit the send button when you’re done with a key phase of a book project. Celebrate the moment, treat yourself to something you enjoy, and share the joy of the moment with your friends. Chances are you won’t be celebrating when your editor writes back in two months with the revisions you need to make… 😉