Kyle Scott, now at the University of Houston, has taught political science at Miami University and Duke University. The Federalist Papers: A Reader’s Guide is his fourth book. In addition to his academic writing, his popular commentary has appeared with Huffington Post, Reuters, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Times, and dozens of local outlets including the Houston Chronicle, Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Sacramento Bee. He contributes regularly to UK Progressive and Liberty.
Thank you for this interview, Kyle. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
Professionally I’ve been writing for seven years. My first book was a revised version of my dissertation. It was only with my second book that I began to recognize writing for an academic audience is something completely different from writing for a commercial audience. In my work I try to stay grounded in the disciplined method of inquiry of the social sciences while trying to say something interesting and pertinent to those not in the field.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
My book is an attempt to make The Federalist Papers accessible to more people. With growing interest in the founding generation, and the continual question raised by our politicians of original intent, I think it is important for people to find out for themselves what this work is all about.
Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?
This is my third book that has moved from my foundation in political science to a general audience. In writing nearly one hundred columns over the past two years for popular outlets I think I now have found my commercial voice.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
The answer I give to my students about why I study politics applies here: I can’t think of anything more important to write about. Politics affects every aspect of our lives, we should understand it better.
Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?
Every moment of every day. I follow Hemmingway in simply wanting to write something true. To do this requires constant self-examination.
Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?
A library, any library. Being around the greatest minds, even in book form, is inspiring. Unfortunately books are becoming scarce even in libraries. And with that scarcity also comes a scarcity in silence that libraries used to possess.
What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?
I tried to read everything written by Hamilton, Madison and Jay then read all the secondary literature on them.
Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?
This is my second book with Continuum, now Bloomsbury. For my first book I sent a query, which is different in academic than in strictly commercial settings. Then they asked me to write this one for their reader’s guide series.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
Through interviews like this and the bylines I include in my op-eds.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Talk to anyone willing to listen and write anything anyone is willing to publish. Get the work out anyway you can.
What’s next for you?
The next book will be on humility. Just think of how many marriages could be saved, or wars averted, if people were more willing to admit that they might be wrong and the other person might be right. Humility opens us up to that possibility and allows us to engage in a more deliberative process.
Thank you for this interview, Kyle. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Thank you for allowing me to participate.