Asking the Editors: Part 3

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

This essay is the third in a three-part series dedicated to answering the question “What do university press editors have to say about the mystery surrounding first-time book authorship?” In this series, I’ve shared information and insights from two seasoned book editors, Elizabeth Ault, editor at Duke University Press, and Jim Burr, senior editor at the University of Texas Press.

In the first piece, the editors and I went over what you should know and do leading up to your book’s submission. In the second one, we talked specifically about networking and meeting with editors. This final article is dedicated to the tough stuff. It highlights the role of social media in book publishing, the fears that faculty members often have when it comes to institutional prestige and their ability to secure a contract, and how to avoid being dropped by a press once you’ve agreed to work together. Continue reading

Asking the Editors: Part 2

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

Last week, I wrote about an interview I recently conducted with two university press editors — Elizabeth Ault, an editor at Duke University Press, and Jim Burr, senior editor at the University of Texas Press — about first-time book authorship. They shared with me what you should do to prepare your book for submission, including how to know when you are ready to start searching for an editor. In this second essay in a three-part series, I’ll provide Elizabeth and Jim’s perspective on networking and meeting with editors. Continue reading

Asking the Editors: Part 1

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

About 18 months ago, I defended my humanities dissertation and took a tenure-track job. Since then, I’ve done a fair amount of soul-searching about my first book project and have also spent a lot of time talking with other junior faculty about publishing.

For almost every one of us, the formula for successfully drafting and editing a book, and then landing a contract, is mysterious. That’s perhaps due to a variety of factors, including the general irrelevance of the advice of our well-established grad school advisers — who already seem to have many relationships in publishing — and the general lack of attention to this concern until after landing a job.

So I set out to find out if there is a formula for publishing one’s first academic book in the humanities. The simple answer seems to be no. Yet two university press editors — Elizabeth Ault, editor at Duke University Press, and Jim Burr, senior editor at the University of Texas Press — whom I interviewed on their experiences working with first-time book authors helped me develop a longer, more comprehensive and insightful answer that I’d like to share. Continue reading

Too Many Courses, Too Few Friends: Thriving as First-Year Faculty in a New Environment

A year ago I was wrestling with a large roll of orange bubble wrap and a faulty tape dispenser as my partner and I prepared to relocate from Connecticut to Nebraska. We had been living in our quiet corner of New England long enough to gain a large circle of friends but we knew absolutely no one in the Midwest. I was also wrestling with syllabi, assignment prompts, and textbook orders as I braced myself for the teaching load at my new institution. The scale of my professional life was about to shift drastically as I transitioned from teaching a few sections of composition as a graduate student at a large public university to developing three different literature courses per semester as an assistant professor at a small liberal arts college. Many of us will meet similar professional and personal challenges as junior faculty: as I reflect on my experiences, I hope that some of the strategies I have relied on will also prove useful to you. Specifically, this post will suggest possible approaches to handling course preparation as a new faculty member and re-building your social life in an unfamiliar environment. Continue reading

Help Your New Hires

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

Dear department chairs and college deans,

Will new faculty members join your institution this fall? If so, you can do a handful of things that will help them transition. Much of the burden of figuring it out will fall squarely on them, but an accommodating and hospitable environment will not only help new faculty slide into their jobs effectively but will also ultimately better serve everyone. This is especially true if those individuals are first-time faculty members. Continue reading

Writing Lessons: Practicing What We Preach

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

As educators, we often lament the quality of our students’ writing and ponder how we might support their writing development. To that end, I recently attended an interdisciplinary pedagogical conference themed around improving student writing. One of the conference’s main objectives was to remind all of us, regardless of field, that students need our help with their writing and that we cannot burden English departments with the sole responsibility for shaping it.

The research and presentations were geared toward student writing, but I started to ask myself why I couldn’t also heed some of those lessons and be my own writing coach. Why had I failed to see that so many of the tools I use as an educator could transfer neatly to my own writing? Continue reading