What if I'm an Atheist
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What If I'm an Atheist?

A Teen's Guide to Exploring a Life Without Religion

Who Wrote It?
I did. My name's David Seidman, and I've written a lot of books, mostly nonfiction, mostly for kids and teenagers. But this one was different.

I've usually worked on assignment. I'd find out that a publisher was planning to start a new series of books, and I'd ask the editor in charge of the series, "Do you need any writers? I think I could do a good job for you." If the editor liked my experience, he'd assign me to start writing.

Back in 2006, I was looking for my next assignment. Since I liked writing nonfiction for teenagers, I checked out the bestseller lists to see which publishers were having success in that area. I saw that a lot of the nonfiction bestsellers for teenagers were all about religion and faith -- and I thought, "But what about the atheist kids?"

There was nothing for them.

I don't mean that there were no books on the bestseller lists for them. There was no nonfiction book about unbelief for teenagers at all.

I wanted to write that book. But I paid for my meals and my mortgage by writing. To write a book for teenage unbelievers, which would take at least a few months, without knowing if anyone would publish the book or pay me for it -- I never worked that way.

But I could sympathize with atheist and agnostic teenagers, because I grew up Jewish. Every November and December, it seemed like all of society was trying to get everyone, including me and other Jews, to celebrate Christmas. I know what it’s like to grow up in a society where the majority doesn’t share your beliefs.

So I went to work. First, I had to convince a publisher that a book for young unbelievers would find, attract and satisfy a lot of readers. And that meant writing a proposal -- something on the order of 10,000 words, or 50 pages. I researched stories about unbelievers facing discrimination in school and at home, population statistics for young atheists and agnostics, the passionate feelings of the atheist and agnostic communities, and other topics. I wrote a table of contents and sample chapters.

Writing the proposal took a long time. Finding the right publisher took even more. And then came the writing of the book -- a job that took a lot longer than the few months that I had thought. Some people I love and trust said that maybe I should give myself a break and quit the book. Sometimes, I agreed with them.

But there had to be readers out there for this book, and I wanted to reach them.

Now that the book is done, I get to find out if the readers really are out there. If you're one of them, I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Listen to David on Freethought Radio