Today I received a copy of my newly published book A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology. My publisher (Baker Academic) informed me it arrived at their offices on Friday (Halloween) and they immediately sent me a copy.
I know I should be used to this by now (since this isn’t my first book), but I tend to write about one book per decade (I’m a bit slower than Tom Wright or Jamie Smith), so it’s not often I get to see one of my books fresh off the press. Actually, I seem to be picking up publication speed, since the gap between my first and second books was eleven years, then ten years between the second and third, and now nine years between the third and fourth—though I wasn’t actually working on each book for the entire in-between time.
Originally, A New Heaven and a New Earth was supposed to have been published a couple of years earlier (2012). I received the invitation from Baker to write the book back in fall 2007 and did a bit of research in summer 2008. Then I spent much of my sabbatical in spring and summer 2009 working on the project and got some of the chapters written. I had originally planned a short seven-chapter book, with the idea of doing more work in summer 2010 and completing it it in 2011, but a computer crash when I was nearly done (in August 2011) set me back just as the teaching semester was about to begin. So I put off completing it till the following summer.
This led Baker to advertize it as being published in 2013, which was jumping the gun, since I had not submitted a manuscript even by the end of summer 2012.
By then I had concluded there was more that I wanted to say, so I added a few more chapters. At that point I also realized that some chapters were becoming overly long, so I divided them into two (some long chapters really had two separate chapters hiding there). In the end, the book became thirteen chapters (or twelve chapters plus an appendix, as the publisher has organized it).
I submitted the completed manuscript to Baker at the start of October 2013. Due to the recession many publishers (Baker included) had cut staff, and they told me that they had more books in the pipeline than they could get to the shelves as quickly as they would like. So I knew it would be a while before mine would be published. They indicated it would be about a year (the book did have to go through required rounds of editing, from the publisher, back to me, and around again a couple of times).
Various websites selling the book have indicated differing publication dates, either late November or early December. But during the past summer Baker informed me that the book would be ready by November 1—and they were actually a day early!
I don’t know exactly when the book will be available in stores (online or brick-and-mortar), but I’ve been told it will be ready for a conference on Faith and Work that I’m speaking at this coming weekend (November 7-8). And it will also be on sale at the annual meetings of various academic societies in San Diego in the third week of November (the Evangelical Theological Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Academy of Religion).
So the eschaton hasn’t arrived; but the book certainly has.