This post will be more personal than most. After two years of work, I’ve finished a draft manuscript for my new book Abolish Oil Now!
I’m excited. But now the really hard work begins.
To sum up, the book draws a parallel between today’s fight to save the climate and the most successful people’s movement in history, the century-long campaign to abolish slavery in the United States.
Both efforts had truth and right on their side, but both also faced a wealthy special interest with enough political power to block reform. Back then, abolitionists won a huge victory against King Cotton and for freedom and human dignity. Using their model, today we can win on climate change. But to do that, we must win against Big Oil. You can read more about it at the Abolish Oil Now! webpage.
Here’s where I need help. Any of you out there who like books, I’ve got two questions that I’d love your opinion on. Then, I’ve got a request for a few folks who are real climate warriors or history buffs or both.
1. Book Subtitle
This question is little, but the answer is crucial to the success of the book. My wife Lindsay thought I needed a subtitle that explicitly connected climate to slavery abolition, so I came up with this.
How Abolitionists Beat the World’s Richest Industry to End Slavery and How We Can Repeat their Victory to Conquer Climate Disruption
Is it too long? Do you have better ideas?
2. Self-Publish or Seek New York Publisher
This is the big question now that the manuscript is ready.
A friend who has published several books with an established publisher based in New York has urged me to find a book agent and then work with him or her to solicit a company to put out Abolish Oil Now! My friend was kind enough to suggest that with the right publisher, the book could sell well. I admit that I’d love the prestige of having a recognized publisher’s name on my book. But I understand that big publishers do very little to promote most of their titles, so usually an author must plan to launch and promote his or her own book.
Even once you start working with a book agent, I also understand that it can take months or years to find an interested publisher. And then you must wait even more months after your book is accepted to go through their editing, design, and production process. I’m concerned that it might take until 2022 or 2023 to get the book out.
Since I write not only about history that’s 150 or 200 years old, but also about current events, such as the Capitol insurrection of January 6 of this year as well as some early actions on climate by President Biden, the book is current now. Waiting too long will cause it to spoil, so to speak.
That’s probably the main reason I’m considering self-publishing. After years of improvements, the quality of text layout, cover design, and printing is comparable to what a big publisher would produce. The price is affordable. And I can promote it myself, just as I’d have to with a New York publisher. The big difference is speed — a self-published book could come out this summer. I could get it out now instead of having to wait a year or two.
What do you think I should do?
3. Will You Join My Book Launch Team?
Abolish Oil Now! is a different kind of book about climate. It’s not another survey of the findings of climate science. It’s a provocation for a world impatient of delay and a demand for action inspired by the ringing appeal for justice from the abolitionists of old:
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen;—but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD.
—William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, 1831
Scientists say we must make “transformative” changes to the economy in this decade in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate disruption. It will be much bigger than the technology “revolution,” which figured out how to insert microchips everywhere but couldn’t figure out how to ensure a future for human life.
Building a clean and fair economy will require a truly historic effort more on the scale of the Industrial Revolution.
Just imagine installing trillions of solar panels on homes, schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras, and businesses everywhere. Also planting trees and gardens, building high-speed rail, selling electric cars, and of course cleaning up “fence-line” communities near dirty energy facilities like those in Louisiana’s infamous Cancer Alley. It’s a lot — and we’ll need it all, and then some.
Plans like the Green New Deal abound to save the climate while creating jobs and building racial and social equity. We have the technology, we have the money, and we have the people. So why hasn’t it happened yet?
Oil, gas, and coal companies have been blocking those solar panels through lobbying, buying politicians, and spreading lies. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) expressed it well in a Congressional hearing,
I think history will look back on the covert operation run by the fossil fuel industry against its own country to debilitate and incapacitate our own government from addressing this problem as one of history’s vilest political acts.
If dirty energy companies won’t get on the train, then they must get off the tracks. I believe that Abolish Oil Now! can help build a movement to make that happen. But we need to get the book out there.
However the book is published, I am planning my launch campaign now. I’d like to make it an open community effort. I’m looking for smart people who resonate with the book’s approach. So, I’m asking for your help to do things like:
- Read my advance manuscript and give feedback
- Share the word about Abolish Oil Now! on your social media accounts
- Reach out to relevant book bloggers, podcasters and influencers
- Download the book and write reviews on Amazon on launch day
- Host Zoom or in-person book talk events
Other ideas are welcome. Your help on the launch campaign will be invaluable. I hope you’ll find it exciting to take part in something big with other people who share your values and your commitment not merely to a livable world (can’t we do better than that?) but to a brilliant future. And to show my gratitude, I’ll acknowledge your help in the published book, on my website, and on social media.
In the coming weeks I’ll send out a way to sign up as a launch team member with more specifics. For now, if you’re interested, or have any thoughts on my questions about the book’s subtitle and method of publishing, then please give me your thoughts through my contact form. And thanks!