Review of ‘Getting Published’ just received

Today, I was gratified and embarrassed to read a lengthy review of our book recently published in the Journal of Scholarly Publishing.

There was much to be pleased about in this review by Steven E. Gump, not least this comment about our introduction:

The opening chapter offers a behind-the-scenes look at the various players in the publishing industry and a brief but particularly fascinating section on the state of the global academic book industry (15–9). This chapter should be required reading for all aspiring academic authors.

and this about the importance of (self-) promotion:

One way in which this book stands out from other academic writing guides is that it describes how academic authors can themselves add value by actively promoting their books (chapter 10): ‘you should not leave everything to the unseen multitudes in the [publisher’s] marketing department who are working hard to push your book to the market. As an author, you should get actively involved by creating a corresponding pull ’ (160, original emphases). True, such ideas are not new; but I am pleased to find them receiving such in-depth coverage and attention in a book for academic authors.

But Steven E. Gump is also known for being a stickler for consistency. Here, sadly, he detailed far too many instances in which a word was spelt this way here, that way elsewhere, commas wandered a bit, etc., etc. He’s right; these errors shouldn’t have slipped through. Like all authors, I wanted a perfect book and (as usual) we didn’t quite get there. The final comment, then, is probably fair:

Textual inconsistencies aside, though, I recommend this book for academic authors, especially those in the humanities or social sciences, wanting an insider’s view of academic book publishing in the early twenty-first century. For first-time authors, reading this book will clarify a complicated, lengthy process that is only beginning when the manuscript is finished. Authors will be reminded, too, that, despite hurdles encountered along the way, ‘everyone in the academic book industry … is there for the express purpose of making the most’ of their manuscripts–of making each book accepted for publication a success (19). Just be sure to do as the authors say, not necessarily as they do.

Quite. And I’m quite sure that – given how most of my posts seem to be written before dawn – Steven E. Gump would find many more errors strewn through this blog, too.

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2 Responses to Review of ‘Getting Published’ just received

  1. Sarah Santos says:

    Unfortunately, although I think that your book has a good deal of value, the point raised about “textual inconsistencies” is valid; especially bearing in mind the context (i.e. this is a guide to publishing).
    The “stickler” attitude that you deride (only a little, but all the same…) is a critical part of the publishing process that is slowly but surely being whittled away. The corrosion of the editorial department continues unabated, matched only by the rising importance of marketing values.
    Not to dwell on it, but would these kind of slip-ups have existed 10 years or so ago, before the explosion of vanity publishing? May be, but probably not.

    • Dear Sarah

      You are right; the point raised about “textual inconsistencies” is valid (absolutely), especially given that this is a guide to publishing. Just how these inconsistencies escaped us is puzzling; they got through the filters of co-authorship (we were merciless in our critiques of each other’s work), substantive and copy-editing as well as rigorous proofing (not least by a proof reader programmed to find other people’s mistakes at ten paces). Having two authors with a different mother tongue and suffering ms fatigue was a factor but I wonder if the subject being so familiar to the editors and proof-reader didn’t cause a small loss of detachment.

      That said, the errors were ours, only ours (what? all eight of them?)

      There will always be a role for the pedant, the stickler, in editorial. But so, too, is the role of the midwife important, someone capable of helping the author create the work that her/his readers want/need. That is the essence of marketing, and it is not something to be derided. The author may be the centre of her universe but her book lives or dies in the world of its readership; any other approach is real vanity publishing.

      Slip-ups happen in the best of books, and with the most prestigious presses. It happens today but it also happened in the “good old days”. Perhaps it is more prevalent than (say) ten years ago but this I’d argue is a result of the grinding, terminal impoverishment of academic presses not because of an explosion of vanity publishing.

      And, like it or not, the growing inadequacies of the current publishing model will see more authors taking matters into their own hands – for better and for worse.

      Thanks for your excellent feedback, nonetheless. Clarity, consistency and firmness of judgement are what we all need.

      Gerald

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