Thursday, July 31, 2014

The First Step Towards Making a Decision

Here's a quote from our previous blog post:
You have been an accomplished rosh chabura for the past ten years, and have said many chaburos over this time. You feel your chiddushim have merit, and would like a broader "oilam" to benefit from them.
That's super - it shows a tremendous amount of self-esteem.
But the question is, will others really benefit from your chiddushim, and will they actually learn them?
Ask yourself, will you do the same thing? Will you pick up a sefer from a yungerman whom you've never heard of, and learn his chiddushim?
Aren't you busy enough learning the achronim and rishonim, and the chiddushim of today's gedolei Torah - to add extra time for a contemporary of yours?

Let me tell you a story that happened with one of last generation's true gedolei Yisroel.
Someone came to visit this godol, and presented him his newly printed sefer. After the man left, the godol asked his grandson who was there, to place the sefer very high up in his seforim shrank (bookcase).
The grandson inquired into what's there, and his zeide told him that that's the "useless information department".

So is that nice? Do you really want to think that all your ameilus b'Torah is "useless"? Chalila. You have truly toiled over your chaburos, and they are emes l'amito. But that doesn't mean that every single Ben Torah will now run to learn your sefer - let alone purchase it.

It's important to be very very realistic here. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not a pessimistic type of person. I love seforim. I recently visited a yeshiva that was doing some construction in their beis medrash, and all the seforim were piled up on tables. I felt like a child at a candy store. I just went from one sefer to another, admiring their very existence.

I think the solution lies in some of the words I used above: "Will you pick up a sefer from a yungerman whom you've never heard of, and learn his chiddushim?"
Your target audience must be those who know and respect you.
You should not think of selling your sefer at the seform store. You may be very disappointed when the sefer doesn't sell. You'll probably be even more hurt when the storekeeper refuses to sell your sefer, since his shelves are already packed with the "standard" seforim.

In our next post we will discuss how to broaden your target audience, but still limit it to ones who will give you a chance.

Monday, July 28, 2014

So, You Too Want To Be a Published Mechaber

There are many reasons why you may want to publisher your sefer. (Note that publishing a kuntres is just as legitimate as a sefer here.)
  • You have been an accomplished rosh chabura for the past ten years, and have said many chaburos over this time. You feel your chiddushim have merit, and would like a broader "oilam" to benefit from them.
  • You have learned a sugya that many term a "meis mitzvah" (a sugya that's rarely learned b'iyun). You would like to share your knowledge and experience with others - l'shem Shomayim - and do "techiyas hameisim" on the sugya.
  • You have been in kollel for five years, and want to give more meaning to "just" three sedorim a day.
  • (Note: this point is not meant to be sarcastic.) You're an above-average yungerman, but feel your wife doesn't appreciate your learning. She may be too busy with the children, etc., or just doesn't get the chizuk from staying at home like you do being in the beis medrash all day long. So you want to put out a sefer to recharge her batteries, and to enhance sholom bayis.
  • You're a baalabos who learns daf yomi, but isn't the type who is satisfied with just turning the pages. You learned in yeshiva and/or kollel when you were younger, and make extra time to learn the daf more b'iyun. You also want to have this chelek b'Torah known as publishing.
  • You're a chosson and want to hand out your chiddushim at your chassuna, instead of just the plain old bentcher.
  • You're marrying off your daughter, and want to hand out your zeide's ksovim at the chassuna, instead of just the plain old bentcher.
There are probably many other types of yidden that would like to put out a sefer, and in this blog we will explore the pros and cons of doing so.
Once you're decided to go ahead with it, we will offer advice on how to get it done.
And if you're chosen not to, we'll explore alternate ways to the standard (and costly) publishing.