Ray Comfort is the author of more than 60 books, including, God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists, How to Know God Exists, Evolution: The Fairy Tale for Grownups, You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can’t Make Him Think, and The Evidence Bible. He was a platform speaker at the 2001 27th convention of “American Atheists,” and in 2007, he appeared on ABC’s Nightline (with actor Kirk Cameron) debating “The Existence of God.” He also co-hosts an award-winning television program, and has a daily blog called “Atheist Central.”
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Ray! Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
I am the author of more than 60 books, including, God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists, How to Know God Exists, Evolution: The Fairy Tale for Grownups, You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can’t Make Him Think, and The Evidence Bible. I was a platform speaker at the 2001 27th convention of “American Atheists,” and in 2007, I appeared on ABC’s Nightline (with actor Kirk Cameron) debating “The Existence of God.” I also co-hosts an award-winning television program, and has a daily blog called “Atheist Central.”
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
It was a book called, My Friends are Dying! It told the true story of the drug deaths of five of my surfing buddies, and explained to parents what they could do to keep their kids out of the drug scene. The book has been published in the United States (I’m originally from New Zealand) under the title, Out of the Comfort Zone.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
It was sell-published. I didn’t get any rejections until later on in my writing career.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
The bulldog is designed with its nose slanting backwards so that it can get a grip with its teeth, and still keep breathing. The driving force behind teeth-gritted tenacity is a passion for what you write. I was passionate. I wanted the bone and I wasn’t going to let go. That helped me handle the hard knocks of rejection. A slap across the head doesn’t deter a bulldog.
Someone once told me to aim at the moon and if I cleared the trees, I was doing fine. So I made an attitude adjustment. I deliberately became an optimistic tenacious pessimist. I am cynical when it comes to getting published. I expect the worst and if I get it, I don’t feel disappointed.
So, I still have low expectations, am thick-skinned, and I stubbornly kept trying. I can tell a rejection letter without opening it. It is very light because there was only one sentence on one page. It says “Thank you for your query letter. We regret to inform you that we are not interested in your book, but wish you well in your search for a publisher.” The first 100 or so upset me. Then I got used to them and handled rejection like a trooper because of my new “life as it is” attitude. Passion fuels me for the long haul until a publisher listens.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Whitaker House published it in the United States. I didn’t choose them, they chose me (amazing grace). At that time, I would have gladly taken anything.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I was extremely encouraged, and I am forever grateful to that publisher for taking the risk. I celebrated by jumping over a full moon.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I went, at the publisher’s request, to a book convention, and signed.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I now have seven published and have written sixty books.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I don’t see any glaring mistakes.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
In 2003, I produced an award-winning TV program (with actor Kirk Cameron). It’s now in its third season, in 70 countries and on 31 networks.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
They are combined (daily), especially since some nice scientists said that dark chocolate is good for us.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Make sure you realize that you have something no other generation has had. You don’t have to wade through fat and heavy books in libraries to find key address, hand-write their addresses, then distastefully lick a million stamps to send them query letters. You have search engines. So use them to make contacts. Look for key people on key sites. Keep your emails short. Offer to write free columns and don’t hold your breath until you get an answer. Move on.