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

Making the Most of the Summer

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

This time a year ago, I finished my degree and headed into the summer unsure of what to do with myself. It was only in hindsight that I thought critically about how to invest one’s time and energy over the summer. (Those thoughts are documented here.) This year, I’m taking a more proactive approach and creating a plan for the summer before it begins. Here, I describe the decisions I’ve made in terms of my teaching, structuring my time for research, and reading for professional enrichment. Continue reading

How to Write a Book Proposal

This whole post could probably be distilled into one single PRO-TIP.

PRO-TIP: Start thinking about your book proposal way before you think you need to. An significant number of presses will expect to see projects that already have a fair amount of momentum behind them.

More and more these days, presses (university or otherwise) are asking for supplemental information along with book proposals. The basics are all the same, but many presses  would now like for you to be well-connected socially. In other words, they want to see evidence of an audience, marketability, or of your book’s momentum. We’ll return to this quandary in a moment. Continue reading

How to Review a Book

When looking for a strong way to expand your professional network and get the most visibility from your prospective publishers, a book review is an excellent solution. By reviewing a recently published work in your field, you:

  • Pair your name with the names of other academics who you want to be associated with. Meaning, people will begin mentally categorizing you as part of the same field as the person whose work you are reviewing…not to mention the author of the book will likely read it.
  • Snatch a quick line for the non-peer reviewed publications section of your CV.
  • Get the attention of the review editor of a scholarly journal that aligns with your interests.

So, you’re asking, “well what’s a good way to go about that, anyway?” Continue reading