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Lessons from the “Academic Publishing: Routes to Success” monograph workshop

February 3rd, 2017 by Soraya Belkhiria | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Lessons from the “Academic Publishing: Routes to Success” monograph workshop
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The Monograph Publishing Round Table opened the “Academic Publishing; Routes to Success” workshop hosted by the University of Stirling on Monday 23rd January and coordinated by the dynamic Dorothy Butchard.

Dr Andrea Schapper, Dr Timothy Peace and Dr Kelsey Williams, all from the University of Stirling shared their experience with monograph publishing from the author’s point of view, guided by the questions of Claire Squires.

The following blog is an organized summary of all the points they raised while sharing their personal experience with publishing a monograph from their thesis work. For a more complete panorama of the day long workshop, please go read Aleksander Krzysztof Pęciak’s blog article.

Why publish a monograph?

What could be gathered from all the panelists is that, in an environment where it’s quite difficult to find a stable job as an academic, having a published monograph on your CV can really make a difference to get interviews. It was also the general consensus that the monograph is a more accessible piece of writing than a thesis, and that by choosing this format you are making a claim to a wider audience, even compared to journal articles. Andrea Schapper also said that monographs were special because, compared to articles, they are the work of several years put together in one product.

The 10 steps in getting published:

  1. Identify a book series which your monograph could fit in. As Timothy Peace remarked, you might have an idea of this from the research you’ve done and the familiarity with book series on your subject it has brought you.
  2. Send an email to the series editor to see if your title interests him and fits with the editorial line. That will save you time. If you receive a positive answer, you can then submit a proposal.
    But, if you are rejected, as says Andrea Schapper, “Don’t give up if you’re being turn down. Don’t take it personally but take it professionally. Rejection is part of an academic’s career.”
  3. Be prepared to revise a lot of what you have already written. Kelsey Williams, whose monograph was published by Oxford University Press, had to make pretty drastic revisions to make his thesis accessible, and to axe 1/3 of his content to be under the 80,000 words limit. Timothy Peace for his part only had to cut down the “boring bits of methodology” and make the text more reader friendly and less PhD sounding.
  4. Allow for time. The revisions took Kelsey Williams between 8 and 10 month, so this can be a lengthy process. The press can be even longer to give you definite answers when you are producing your first book. In his case, by the time Oxford University Press agreed to sign a formal contract, he had already produced the final draft.
  5. But don’t wait too long to publish the monograph, as it is a very useful thing to have done when hunting for a job. From the time you contact the editor to the date of publication, at least a year is necessary.
  6. Deal with peer reviews. While reviews can often help you write a better book with their suggestions, they can also be an obstacle you have to overcome. Andrea Schapper said that for her monograph, two reviewers liked the book and one didn’t. His critics gave her the impression that he didn’t really read the book, but she addressed his comments in her response with evidence from her own material and the editor was fine with publishing her work in the end.
  7. Index your own book. According to Timothy Peace, it will save you money, because the publisher will make you pay for this service, and you can do it in as little as two days with the help of a software. On top of that, it can be a useful way to assess the structure of your argument.
  8. Ask people to review your book for you. Even if a “I’ll review yours if you review mine deal” can sound difficult to strike in conscience, it is actually very helpful to get your book talked about.
  9. Be prepared to do a lot of the promotion yourself, as publishers do not seem very inclined on investing energy in promoting first-time monograph authors.
  10. Enjoy your royalties! Because yes, as surprising as it sounds, you might receive a royalties check! (even if you won’t get any advance).

And to conclude, here are some thoughts from Kelsey Williams to pounder: “The first book is going to be the worse book you’ll ever write, and that’s okay. Be generous with yourself and don’t be too perfectionist, because it will slow you down and maybe break your career dynamic instead of helping it.”

– Soraya Belkhiria