University Press Week: What author is #NextUP

It’s University Press Week and the Blog Tour is back! This year’s theme is Next. Today’s theme is What author is #NextUP?

Celebrating first-time authors, Luis Felipe Mantilla, blogs about publishing his first book,
How Political Parties Mobilize Religion: Lessons from Mexico and Turkey, with Temple University Press in June 2021

How Political Parties Mobilize Religion began as a doctoral dissertation that I had set aside for a few years to work on other projects. As tenure drew near, I returned to the book project with some trepidation. I knew the project had important merits–the case selection was good and the core insights about religious parties were original and important–but I also knew it needed a lot of work. I wrote a proposal that emphasized the manuscript’s strengths and treated its weaknesses as arguments for why the book would be different and better than the dissertation. However, despite putting on a brave face, I knew I would need support and encouragement from my future editors.

When I approached a few other presses with the project, I got positive feedback but not the kind of commitment and enthusiasm that I needed to jumpstart the project and keep it going. Some editors seemed very excited about turning my manuscript into different book on the same topic. I felt uncertain and rather discouraged.

A longtime friend and colleague suggested I reach out to Temple, specifically because of its series Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics. Encountering Paul Djupe, the series editor, was a breath of fresh air. He immediately grasped the potential contributions of the book and quickly became a mentor and advocate. His critical suggestions were always targeted and constructive: he was able to identify specific weak spots in a way that helped me to address them without undermining the valuable components of the broader project.

Aaron Javsicas, the press editor, was also consistently supportive, and his practical insights helped ensure that the book stayed on track without making me feel stressed about the process. He was adroit in dealing with several potentially tricky issues. For example, he was the first to suggest a version of book’s current title–the previous version was a bland compromise I had never liked but settled on for lack of an alternative–and he was immediately supportive when I tweaked it to better fit the core argument.

I was regularly impressed with Temple’s ability to get top-tier reviewers at various stages of the project. The feedback from anonymous reviewers was remarkable in its thoroughness and quality, and many of their ideas played a central role in the revised case studies and the final chapters of the book. The last set of reviewers, whose comments are now on the back cover, are preeminent scholars whose approval meant a great deal for a junior scholar like me.

The last stages of book production, from reading proofs to crafting a cover, could easily have been overwhelming. Instead, thanks to Paul and Aaron’s encouragement and the support of the rest of the staff at Temple, it became an opportunity to look back and gain a real appreciation for a project that had taken almost a decade to complete. I particularly appreciated their patience as I suggested changes to the cover design.

Finally, Temple has done a remarkable job of keeping in touch with me after publication. Publicity manager Gary Kramer’s newsletters have alerted to me reviews of my work in a variety of journals, many of which I would have otherwise missed. It has also provided a sense of community and continuity, which, given my experience with Temple, I sincerely appreciate.

From my first encounter with Temple to the present day, the press has done a wonderful job of making me feel like a valued contributor rather than a number on a list or a demanding client. As a first-time author, it was a remarkable experience and one for which I am profoundly grateful.


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