Are you interested in writing for the Peanut Butter & Grace website, or maybe even submitting a book proposal? Here’s what you need to know.
What We’re About
The mission of Peanut Butter & Grace is to help Catholic parents raise children to be saints—that is, people who love Christ and his Church and take action to continue Christ’s mission in the world today.
We do this by providing digital and print resources that assist parents in forming their children in the faith within the daily life of their family. All of our products are made for Catholic parents—either to use themselves (think of 77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids), or to hand to their kids (think of the Illuminated Rosary prayer books).
Our primary audience is “middle pew Catholics”—parents who attend Mass regularly and want to do more to integrate the faith into their family life, but don’t know where to begin. They might even say, “I can’t teach my children about the faith because I don’t know how.” These parents are probably both working to support their family, living the crazy-busy lifestyle of the typical working- and middle-class American family.
What we do
We want to do two things for these parents. First, we want to show them how to teach their kids the faith in the midst of everyday family life; and second, we want to provide them with easy-to-use, on-the-go resources that make it easy to do that. Our brand name, Peanut Butter & Grace, reflects that spirit, because we want to make family faith formation as simple as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
How we do it
Our method is called practical family catechesis. It is a method of catechesis that emphasizes the practice of the faith together with kids, so that they can have a direct, first-hand experience of what lived faith looks like. Over the past twenty-five years, a wealth of research has affirmed that kids whose families practice their faith together—talking about it, praying together, celebrating its rituals and traditions, and serving together—are much more likely to have a lively, vibrant faith life as adults.
How we are Catholic
Because of our mission and audience, we try our best to avoid “insider” debates over matters of practice or interpretation, especially debates that tend to be divisive. An example would be the finer points of liturgical practice; we follow the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, but our audience is more likely to be worried about how to get through Mass with a fussy toddler (or sulky teen).
We’d like to think of ourselves as “whole-grain Catholics,” presenting the whole tradition, in all its richness—from St. Faustina to St. Francis, from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We want to present parents with the whole tradition so they can find a particular Catholic style and spirituality that best fits them at this moment in their lives.
What We’re Looking For
Here’s what we’re interested in publishing digitally (pbgrace,com and social media) as well as in print (books).
Digital products (pbgrace.com, social media)
Our website contains two types of articles: “recipes” for doing faith formation with kids, and stories of grace amid the messiness of family life.
“Recipes” for family faith formation
We like to describe our practical family catechesis resources as “recipes,” because they’re meant to be just about as simple as a recipe that you might find in a working cookbook. Generally these articles contain a little bit of an introduction to the faith formation activity describing what the activity is, but they move rather quickly onto a description of how to make it happen. The prose style is warm but very to the point. Readers don’t have to sift through a lot of personal reflection or anecdotes to find what they need to know to make the activity happen.
These articles fall into four categories: ways to pray with your kids; ways to celebrate grace with your kids (the sacraments and home-based rituals and traditions, such as celebrating feast days); ways to serve others with your kids (doing social justice and the works of mercy), and ways to talk about the faith with your kids. This last category focuses on method (games to play, media to watch, discussion questions) rather than presenting content or curriculum for parents to share. Generally, we refer parents to other sources for content, since there are so many good resources already available.
Stories of Grace
We’re also looking for stories of grace amid the messiness of family life. Parenting is inherently messy; doing it well requires patience, persistence, and reasonable expectations.
And Catholic parenting is not primarily about having the right method, or the right books; it is about being open to the Holy Spirit, and being watchful for the Holy Spirit at work in our families, and in our kids.
The genre of these stories is the personal essay. They center on some personal parenting experience, often one that is “messy” or problematic, and then show how the author found grace in the midst of the messiness and/or came away with a deeper insight into what it means to be a Catholic family, and how to raise Catholic kids. A key element of these essays is the sharing of personal experience; often, we learn more, and make deeper connections, by hearing one another’s stories.
What we don’t publish on the web
With rare exceptions, we don’t publish personal opinion and/or reflection not grounded in a personal experience. It’s not that these pieces aren’t worthwhile, but there are many, many other places to find these on the web.
We tend not to publish craft activities because of our emphasis on the direct practice of the faith; also, there is an abundance of craft-based catechetical resources already available (e.g., CatholicMom.com, Catholic Icing, to name two). However, when we do publish craft ideas, they tend to be ones that require materials commonly found in the house, with fairly simple execution. A craft idea that requires a trip to the store probably doesn’t fit our goal of keeping it simple.
Why Blog with Peanut Butter & Grace?
While we are happy to accept one-time submissions, we’re also looking for regular contributors—folks who would like to write for us once a week, once a month, or on an occasional basis.
Sadly—very, very sadly—at this point in our evolution, we are losing money rather than making money, which means that we can’t compensate writers for their excellent work. If and when we become profitable, we’ll be happy to share, so that our writers can support their own families.
There are other benefits to blogging with Peanut Butter & Grace, however. Here are a few:
- Blogging with us is a great prelude to publishing a book with us. We encourage our contributors to focus on a particular area, with the idea that some of their blog posts might be reworked into a book—and we offer generous author royalties.
- You’ll get plenty of exposure for yourself and/or your own blog. We send out links to new articles in our weekly e-mail newsletter, our Facebook page, and the Catholic Bloggers Network.
- In addition, when you become a regular contributor, you’ll get a Peanut Butter & Grace author account that includes an author footer with every post. The author info contains your profile picture, a description of who you are, links to your social media, and links to all of the other articles you have written for Peanut Butter & Grace.
- We’ll edit your stuff for you and make your posts look nice. Our editing is generally light (basic copy editing for spelling, typos, etc.), although occasionally we do offer more substantial suggestions for improving an article.
- As part of making your articles look nice,
- Rather than working alone, you’ll be part of a community of Catholic bloggers, which makes it more fun.
- Oh yeah . . . you’ll be helping other parents, and helping others gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside!
Much of what we’ve already written above in terms of our audience and mission also applies to the books we publish. Our books are intended for busy parents who want to practice the Catholic faith in their family, but need some help making that happen.
Our books fall into the following broad categories.
Books that parents can give their kids
Finally, we’re also interested in books that parents might hand their kids to enrich their faith. These include:
- Prayer books
- Coloring books
- Fiction for children through teens
- Non-fiction books that help older kids and teens to address practical issues in their lives through the lens of Catholic faith, e.g., navigating friendship, body image, grief and loss, etc.
Please be advised that although we have experimented with publishing children’s picture books, such books are difficult to do well and at a price that parents can afford. They are also extremely expensive up front. Until we have a better sense of how to do these books well, we won’t be accepting new submissions.
Fiction books should focus on telling a compelling story through the lens of faith. The characters and issues do not need to be explicitly Christian, but the story should be “hooked” into a Catholic faith perspective. If parents can use your work of fiction as a springboard for talking to their kids about faith, then it might work for Peanut Butter & Grace; if not, then it would find a better home elsewhere.
Guides for Catholic Families
Our Guides for Catholic Families series is analogous to the “recipe” articles mentioned above . . . they are “recipe books” (or “how-to” books) for practicing the faith with your kids. As such, they are more like a reference work than a book that a parent might sit down and read front to back. These books typically contain lots of short articles (“recipes”) that a) offer parents lots of ideas for practicing the faith, from the whole spectrum of the Catholic tradition; and b) tell parents just what they need to know to get going with those practices as quickly and easily as possible. Many of the “recipes” contain age-appropriate adaptations.
Subject areas include all aspects of Catholic practice. These books vary in length from 80 to 200 pages.
Spirituality of Catholic families
We also publish books about the practical spirituality of Catholic family life. By “practical spirituality,” we mean that these books take some aspect of ordinary family life that is of high interest (or high stress) to parents, and talk about how the light of faith might inform and transform that experience. For example, we have books in the works about a spirituality of living on the edge financially, as well as a book about integrating faith into kids’ sports.
We are not interested in general spirituality books for Peanut Butter & Grace—not even “spirituality of being a mom” books. However, spirituality books that have something new to say, or that are especially well done, might find a home with one of our other lines of books (e.g., Providence Books)—send it along, and we’ll see.
Our publishing checklist
Here’s the checklist we use to determine whether to publish a submitted manuscript:
- Does the publishing concept fit our mission of helping parents raise saints?
- Is the manuscript clean and complete? As a very small press serving a small market on an even smaller margin, we simply don’t have the resources to heavily edit or rewrite manuscripts. Manuscripts should be crisply, tightly written, speak directly (avoiding passive tense), and virtually free of errors.
- Does the manuscript generate a “wow” response from readers? Successful books—that is, books that pay for the expense of making them—are made by good word of mouth. Think of what it takes to get you to actively recommend a book to your friends. That’s the standard we’re shooting for. Without a “wow” response, your book is unlikely to succeed.
- Will the book pay for its up-front expenses in the first year? This is especially relevant for books that require a large up-front investment in art or editing.
- Is the author and/or illustrator willing and able to sell the book? Getting books into the hands of parents isn’t easy, especially given our tiny marketing budget. We rely on authors and illustrators to follow through after publication by promoting their books.
Benefits of publishing with Peanut Butter & Grace
If we accept your book manuscript (or book concept) for publication, we’ll send you a document outlining in more detail what to expect in terms of our process, as well as a contract.
In the meantime, here are some of the benefits of publishing with us:
- You will receive a 50% royalty on gross profits from the sale of your book (25% for picture books illustrated by someone else). “Gross profits” is what’s left over after we’ve paid for printing the book and getting it into the hands of the buyer. The exact amount varies depending on whether we sell the book directly or through a distributor.
- Your book will be listed with Ingram, the largest book distributor in the world. This means that any bookseller, anywhere in the world, will be able to order your book.
- Your book will be promoted through the Ingram catalog of new books, Christian Advance, as well as in the Spring Arbor catalog for Christian bookstores.
- Yes, your book will be available on Amazon—and all other online retailers.
- Your book will also be available as an e-book on all the major e-book platforms.
- Print versions of your book will be professionally produced by Ingram “on demand,” meaning copies will be printed singly or in small batches as orders come through. This means that your book will, in effect, never go “out of print.”
Except in rare cases, we’re unable to pay an advance against royalties.
How to Submit Your Work
If you have an idea for an article, or want to write a regular column for us, just drop a line to Jerry Windley-Daoust at firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate that you’ve read the writer’s guidelines, and we’ll work it out from there.
Book submissions may also be sent to Jerry Windley-Daoust at email@example.com. Include the manuscript, or in the absence of a manuscript, writing samples, as an attachment. In the e-mail, address the following:
- Describe your book, and how it fits with the publishing mission of Peanut Butter & Grace.
- How is your book unique? That is, how does it fill a need that is not met by other books? Have you checked to see whether a similar book has already been published? (This applies more to non-fiction.)
Finally, a word about the quality of book submissions: Would your manuscript get an ‘A’ in a college composition course? We love working with writers to refine and develop great ideas, but we can’t rewrite your manuscript for you.
If you are unsure about the quality of your manuscript, but you’re really excited by your book idea, send it along and, if your idea has merit, we’ll tell you what needs to happen to get your manuscript into acceptable shape.
Please allow two weeks to receive a response to your submission.