Taking on Issues That Matter
Greg Bourke, author of Gay, Catholic, and American—a profoundly moving memoir about growing up gay and overcoming discrimination in the battle for same-sex marriage in the US—writes about choosing to publish his book with University of Notre Dame Press.
Where does a first-time author look to submit a manuscript for publication? In my case, I had prepared a well-researched list of potential publishers that included both university and other publishers. Given my inexperience with having my writings published, I was expecting the process to be a very long and drawn-out affair with numerous rejections that would result in pursing plans B, C, D and beyond.
When my manuscript was ready for submission, instead of taking a scattershot approach and sending it to many potential publishers, I decided to start with my first choice for publication, the University of Notre Dame Press.
This was greatly influenced by my 40-year relationship with the University of Notre Dame as a student, and then as an active alumnus with both the ND Alumni Association, and GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alumni) of Notre Dame. My nearly lifetime relationship with the University of Notre Dame was the driving force for my decision to start with my alma mater.
Was I convinced that a university press was the best path to pursue publication of my book? Honestly, I wasn’t sure, but I thought that Notre Dame Press deserved that first right-of-refusal.
Because of the nature of my book, dealing with the intersection of same-sex marriage and Catholicism, it seemed that Notre Dame Press was not the most likely candidate to accept my manuscript for publication. If Notre Dame Press did publish my book, Gay, Catholic, and American: My Legal Battle for Marriage Equality and Inclusion, it would likely bring forth controversy given the theme of the book that these identities can be wholly compatible. As the largest Catholic university press in the world, I knew that my book published by Notre Dame Press could have a potentially significant impact with Catholic audiences and beyond.
After submitting my manuscript, the Notre Dame Press responded swiftly, courageously, and enthusiastically that it wanted to take a chance on my book. From that point on, neither the Press nor I looked back and we embraced this as a unique opportunity to raise awareness and heighten discussion about the important issues related to the reconciliation of same-sex marriage with Catholic doctrine and life. There were a few challenges, a little controversy, and a few bumps along the road, but this decision to start my publishing career with the Notre Dame Press is one over which I have no regrets.
My now-colleagues at the Notre Dame Press provided me with extensive direction and support as I navigated the many steps to publication that are necessary after submitting a rough manuscript for consideration. Further, the Press provided me with extraordinary support for the book-launch and an extensive marketing campaign after the book was published. The Notre Dame Press staff (all of them) even attended my book-launch event five hours away from South Bend in Louisville, KY. How is that for support?