Wondering Woman: How to write a book and then get it published

First Advice Column for APSA. Wondering Woman. 

Dear Professor Monroe. Can you give me some suggestions on how to write a book and then get it published? Thanks, Sheila

Everyone will differ slightly on how best to write a book or professional paper so you should bear in mind that what follows are only my thoughts and may not work at all for you, either because you personally have a different style/approach or because your particular research project does not lend itself to the kind of work I do. (For example, an analysis of Plato’s Republic will require a different approach than will a mathematical model of the political system.)  What follows is what works well for me. My grad students tease me, saying that my mantra is “Focus” and they are correct. I always tell them to start with a short but focused introduction that essentially is an overview of the book. There are a few critical points that I think need to be included in the introduction, as in the book itself.

Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds:  It should be made clear that the difference between a dissertation and a book is, as Marianne Moore wrote in a different context, “a conversation of a thousand miles.” With a dissertation the student is demonstrating the ability to perform the core practices of the field. Clearly a book goes beyond that: The argument needs to sustain a book that readers are paying for; no small feat. The theory might need to be improved, the study directed towards broader questions, analysis added and refined, ditto interviews and case studies.

Something else I’d advise is for the young scholar to seek out first books they admire and consider how their authors went about writing their books.

[critical points for introduction and book:]

  1.  Focus on a question. What are you investigating? What is the basic question you want to answer? I often start with a question that emphasizes your topic and directs the reader to your central question. For example: “What is altruism? Why is it important?” I find this approach more direct and less boring than what may be the more typical approach: “The subject of this book is altruism, a topic that is important for political science because….” But however you choose to present it, you must focus your reader early on as to what it is you are trying to discuss/explain/analyze….
  2. Importance. Who cares about the topic? Why should the reader read your book? Why should the publisher or editor want to publish it? The question of “who cares” about your research needs to be addressed right up front.

Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds: The most common mistake among first books, it seems to me, and why they don’t command as broad a readership as publishers would like, is that, primarily, the logic hasn’t been fully worked out. The author hasn’t figured out how to present the theory in such a way that people are interested. Often the book hasn’t been properly contextualized in the literature. Usually young scholars, when asked, can’t give a summary of the argument, can’t explain why people should care. Say your subject is foreign aid; many potential readers won’t care, yet you must ask yourself what is relevant in your work about the world that readers can take away from it and learn something?

  1. Capture the interest of the reader. This is very important in a book manuscript, not so much in an article, which will in professional life often have a much more limited audience, consisting of people who already know they are interested in the topic. Still, try to craft something that will show the importance of your topic and hence create a broader audience, or at least make clear why the subject should be of interest to more than just a few people. In a book manuscript I find it often works well to begin with a story, something personal to make the reader care. So, for example, in The Heart of Altruism (1996) I began by saying: “I liked Otto Springer. I liked him immediately.” I then went on to tell the reader about Otto, suggest why Otto was interesting and how he illustrated altruism – the key concept I was trying to explain – and show the reader why it was important to understand people like Otto. This technique works in a book, not in an article, where you do not have the same space. In an article you need to be more direct, and omit the personal aspect of your topic.
  2.  Literature review. Your work needs to be located in a literature. Others have done work on your topic – there are ALWAYS others, no matter how narrow or specialized your topic may seem to you initially – and you need to make clear how your work speaks to this literature. Does it add data to a topic on which there is little empirical work? Does it speak to a puzzle left unanswered so far? Does it contribute to the resolution of a great debate between a group of scholars, or two specific scholars? How does your work contribute to our general knowledge of the topic?

Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds: The lit review often needs to be shorter, and many first books gain from moving narrative to the foreground and methods to the background. (So the qualitative and quantitative chapters follow a narrative driven less by methodology than by narrative flow; the quantitative chapter is flanked by the qualitative chapters)

  1. Methods and data. How did you do your research? What techniques did you use in your analysis? What data did you use, if any? This tells the reader the type of analysis you did and how you reached your conclusions. So, for example, in The Heart of Altruism I conducted in -depth interviews with altruists (people who won the Carnegie Hero Award for risking their lives to save others, philanthropists, and rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust). I contrasted their interviews with interviews with entrepreneurs, people who act out of their self-interest and with little regard for altruism. I began initially with a survey questionnaire that focused on prior findings in the literature. (“Did you expect any good treatment in return for your altruism? Did your altruism make you feel good about yourself?” These two questions were designed to test theories about reciprocal altruism and psychic altruism.) In practice, I found immediately jumping in to ask questions from a survey felt awkward, however, and I ended by adopting a more free-format interview, one that included the survey questions but asked these questions more in the form of an oral history, led by the speaker and less by me. (I began the interview by asking the person I was interviewing if we could just get to know each other better by having them tell me about themselves and, in particular, how they came to be an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, etc.) This method actually revealed much more of their world view, and less of my own pre-structured conceptions so the analysis ended up being an interpretation of the narrative interviews. Whatever the technique/methodology you employ, it’s important to tell the reader how you actually did your research. This is easier when you write for a professional audience, where the terms “statistical model”, time series analysis, econometric analysis, exegetical explication of text, narrative interpretive and so on will be easily recognized. When writing for a more general public it is usually best to note the technical term but then explain what you mean by the term. So, for example, a narrative interpretive analysis using a snowball survey would be noted in those technical terms but described in prose as well.
  2. Roadmap: Overview of findings and of presentation. In the introduction to a book, you need all of the above elements plus a concluding paragraph or two on the overview of findings and a description of how you will proceed in your presentation. So, for example, “the essential finding suggests…. Analysis raises questions concerning …. Implications of the findings/analysis lead us into broader questions concerning….” Then I would add a roadmap. “The book is presented in 5 chapters. Chapter 1 does X, Chapter 2… And so on.” Do not give away the candy shop. You don’t have to tell the reader ALL your findings in the introduction. You want to give enough to let them know what the book contributes but you want to pique their interest so they want to read more.

HOW TO GET THE BOOK PUBLISHED.

  1. The most important thing is to write a good book. But even then you have to get an editor interested. There are many ways to do this. The easiest is to consult the website for the publisher you have in mind and find what most publishers now have on line: directions for a prospectus. They will ask you questions and you can simply prepare something that answers these questions. Just repeat the question (maybe in summary form) and then answer it. Do that for each question and send it to the editor for your field.                                Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds: Perhaps also get the opinion of advisors and peers.
  2. Not every editor is interested in every subject and you want to find the editor who will be excited by your topic. Presses themselves are stronger in particular fields and weaker in others. This may shift over time so you need to consult others for input. For example, Latin American topics may go to one press (It used to be Stanford and U of Texas) while international affairs might go to others (Cornell). There is always a holy trinity, the top presses in your field and you can start with these. Find them in different ways; one is to ask other scholars in the field. Alternatively, see who publishes the books you cited in your own manuscript, and that’s a good hint.
  3. Call the editor, tell him/her what you are doing and ask if he/she is interested in the general topic, acknowledging that you realize not every editor is going to be interested in your particular topic. (Another commentator suggests emailing, since email often helps a person organize her thoughts and may seem a bit less intimidating. Good idea. I think either/both work well. One editor said to email, that cold calls don’t work as well.) Don’t be upset or embarrassed – or defensive – if the editor shows no interest. Graciously and gracefully acknowledge their generosity in speaking with you and thank them for their time. Often people try to see editors at the professional meetings and, while this is not a bad idea, it is not always the most relaxed time for editors so don’t be surprised if you do not get the editor’s full attention at APSA or one of the regionals.                                                                Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds:  Part of writing a good book is having a book conference, if your department offers research funds; flying in, say, three scholars specializing in your area to take apart the manuscript. Such conferences serve as a vetting process for the publishers. Invariably these manuscripts review well.
  4. I usually send out the manuscript first to a few colleagues/friends for feedback. This gives me time to put the manuscript aside and view it afresh. It also provides good advice. (I have a book manuscript now consisting of essays on ethics. I’ve sent it to about 6 people, one of whom said the second chapter – the only one already published – is far more technical and difficult to read than the others. She’s right and I will revise it. Another raised questions about a specific argument, questions that helped me redo that particular piece and begin a new one. So these kind of professional friends are a godsend. Time is tight and generosity is such a gift!) Sometimes you do not decide to make a change but you can add a note saying “Some might argue that …. But I rejected this argument because of X, Y, and Z and hence….” So getting this kind of feedback, even when you disagree with it, can provide a chance to cover your bases, see where the weak spots are in the manuscript that you have not seen and either correct them or explain why you disagree with the criticism you received. This can be extremely helpful. When I sent out The Heart of Altruism, I asked the press to send it to a rational choice theorist, knowing rational choice theorists would probably not like the book. But I wanted to learn what their comments might be, and the anonymous reviewing process was an excellent way to get this input. I was then able to make changes, or to add notes saying “Rational choice theorists might find…. but I disagree because of ….” So use the review process itself, and any friends kind enough to read your book manuscripts, to improve the final work. You may not always take their advice, but it’s always helpful to learn how others view the work you have completed. (One commentator suggests this strategy can be dangerous unless the author and the press agree on what is to be achieved. I agree. I knew it was risky and that I could be effectively setting myself up to get a negative review and a rejection. So do beware here. Perhaps a discussion with the editor is in order. It also might not be a good strategy for a junior person.)                           Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds:  If you’re in the same city as the editor simply ask for a brief meeting at the editor’s office. Simple and effective.
  5. Once you’ve done this, and you are comfortable that you have taken the manuscript as far as it can go, send off the manuscript for the formal review process, but to more than one press. IF AN EDITOR INSISTS ON GIVING THEM AN EXCLUSIVE, DO NOT DO IT. Sandy Thatcher at Princeton, years ago, broke this exclusive rule (still in effect for journal articles where you cannot submit an article to more than one journal at the same time) but since then, most editors are willing to have you send the manuscript to more than one press. As a courtesy, tell them you are sending it to X, Y and to them. I usually don’t send it to more than 3 presses. I know of a few editors who still try to get you to send the manuscript only to them and some who will offer you advance contracts based on just a read of a chapter or two. Unless they give you a huge advance, and I do mean huge, do not sign an advance contract. The advance contract, if you read it carefully, limits your ability to send the manuscript to more than one press but DOES NOT GUARANTEE THEY WILL ACCEPT THE MANUSCRIPT. There is always a clause saying you still have to go through the review process, and this can work against you. The advance contract commits you but does not commit the press, so it’s not a good idea. Mostly sending the manuscript to only one press limits the number of independent reviews you can receive. (Usually presses have 2-3 outsider reviewers.) So you will not receive as much criticism, which can be very helpful. In addition to this limitation, if you send a book manuscript to only one press, you risk having an editor hold you up for a year. I personally know of one man who nearly lost tenure because Yale University Press kept his book manuscript for a year before rejecting it; he had not sent it elsewhere and had to move extremely fast, and go to a lesser press, to get the book accepted in time for his tenure. I, myself, had an editor at a top press tell me he really wanted my book manuscript on altruism. He tried to get me to give him an exclusive but – fortunately – I refused. He then kept the manuscript for 3 months before writing me to tell me he had changed his mind and had decided not to send it out for review. Had I not insisted on sending the manuscript to another press at the same time, I would have lost 3 months.                        Robert Dreesen: I want our chances on first books to be at least 50% on first books, so, yes, one other publisher for the reasons mentioned above.

 

  1. All contracts are not the same. Read the contract carefully and try to negotiate for what you care about. The royalties are not so great for most academic books so I never worry too much about them. But other things can be important. For example, if a book is priced too high in hard cover, it will not be reviewed by many venues. (I’m told $65 is the price, or was.)                                                                                           (Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press: I don’t think this is true.)                                                                                                           It used to be that there was a kind of status in having a hard cover first, then a paper back. I figure who cares if it is a hard cover first; the royalties again are not so great. I want people to read the book, so am happy to have it go right to paperback.

Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds:  It’s increasingly difficult publishing a simultaneous hardback, paperback, and e-book. At CUP all of our books are now published as an e-book. The more broad based the book is the more course adoption appeal it might have and thus the more likely we are to publish a paperback simultaneously with the hardcover and e-book. The bottom has dropped out of the library market so the fact is that most monographs, which is what most first books are, are published in HB only. I often guarantee a paperback in 18 months, and tell the author not to fret because their book will receive to separate marketing campaigns: one when the hardcover is published and one when the paperback is published, and so the book ends up appearing at conferences for two years rather than for one if it is published as a simultaneous hardcover and paperback.

This I suspect is changing, with the nooks and kindles. But my point is that you need to know what you care about and worry about that. I cared about keeping the copyright on The Hand of Compassion and Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide, in case I wanted to make a film using clips of the rescuers, so I asked for that. Fortunately, Princeton was quite generous and said yes, so now I always ask for that. (I did have one movie producer who wanted to turn Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide into a film. Since this was by far the most erudite book I ever wrote, with a huge theoretical section, featuring my theory of moral choice and how it related to lots of different fields, I was kind of amazed. Turns out the Hollywood producer had not read the book, just thought the title sounded good. So it made a good story for my mother and kids.  But I did not book a seat at the Academy Awards.)

  1. I usually do my own index since the press simply takes the cost of preparing it for you out of your eventual royalties and I figure I can do a better job than they can. But you may differ on that. (See Denise Walsh’s comment — below – on this topic.)
  2. If the copy–editing is not good, ask for another copy-editor. This is critical and you want to have the book edited properly. Getting a copy editor you trust can make your life a lot easier.

Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds: Definitely. A lot of copyediting is outsourced now, oversees.

  1. If the press thinks your book might sell, then the Marketing Board may get involved in the title. I find Marketing Boards always want titles that can be googled and found easily. This means “interesting” titles are out. Princeton has never accepted one of my initial titles and, to their credit, the ones we ended up agreeing on were probably better. (The joke in my family used to be that I needed books with body parts in their title to win an award or get well- reviewed in top places. The HEART of Altruism, the HAND of Compassion, the Ethics of STEM CELL research…. Fortunately for me, Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide broke that myth.)  Chuck Myers adds that I am too hard on the Marketing Boards here, and that is probably true. I know they just want the book to sell. So I apologize for the harsh words.

Marie Provine adds: Your titles are interesting. You might reword this response to mean titles that are too abstract, vague or don’t make it clear what the topic is.                                                                                                            I did a survey of prize-winning books and found that roughly 2/3 of the Pulitzer history-winning titles were quite vague: “The Fiery Trial” does not immediately signal that the book is about “Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.” The subtitle does though. Similarly, I felt “Summer for the Gods” was pretty vague. The subtitle “The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion” filled in the necessary information.  My conclusion: Write a good book and it will get published and sell.                Robert Dreesen, Senior Editor, Cambridge U Press adds: That’s it! You might also mention that the best editor you can have is one who will be a strong in-house advocate for your book, ensuring that it is published properly, that it doesn’t get lost in the list. This is especially important at houses like CUP where there’s a lot of excellence. Real publishing begins when a book is off press and that’s when you need a good editor looking out for your book. And before that you want an editor who is collaborative, who won’t make decisions autonomously, who will give you input into, say cover art. I think this important.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Jennifer Hochschild adds: This seems terrific to me, although I do have a few revisions to suggest:

 1) You might want to emphasize that the lit review has to do real theoretical or empirical work – not just show that you’ve read everything, as is often the case in dissertations.  Editors almost always want the lit review to be shortened. 

2) Some of the methods and data discussion may belong in an appendix, and I would guess that most detailed discussion does not belong in an introduction.

 I also have some differences with your #s 5,6, and 7 of how to get the book published: 

 Re #5: I would not be so adamant about insisting on the right to send a Ms. to more than one press. Presses and editors do still differ on this point, and there can be times that a junior person may want to accede to the “our press only” requirement.   A shot at an absolutely top-notch press might be worth the risk. 

I also would soften the advice about an advance contract – under some circumstances, it could be valuable e.g. if you are up for promotion, and need to persuade your department that the book really does evoke interest from a serious publisher…

 Re #6: publishers will tell you that the chances of a book review in a venue that is not a professional journal (e.g. Perspectives on Politics) go way down, perhaps to zero, if you have a simultaneous hardback/paperback. .  I don’t know if that is right, but I’ve heard it in lots of places, including times when I was not negotiating over my own book. 

#7: an alternative is to hire someone to do the index; there are people who do this for a living, whom you can work with directly 

Most generally, I would urge you to soften any advice that comes in imperatives and ALL CAPS.   People may be in very different circumstances…

 Elizabeth Hoffman adds: I don’t generally write books because economics is a journal-focused field. That allows me to build a research program, but get pieces of it published as the data develops. But, I give the same advice to my graduate students about writing a good article. I teach a 2-semester sequence in experimental economics that focuses on first developing a research project and applying for human subject approval. The second course is a weekly way for students to make progress in conducting their experimental research, analyzing the data, presenting their work, and writing the first formal draft of a publishable paper. I start with focus, focus, focus. What question are you trying to answer? How does it fit with the existing literature? How can you operationalize your question as a laboratory experiment, a field experiment, or a survey? How will you recruit subjects? How many subjects do you need (power analysis)? How are you going to analyze the results? What will you do if your results come out differently than you predict? My students tell me I ask so many questions sometimes their heads spin! Publication advice is different in economics, but not in law and economics. Elizabeth Hoffman, Iowa State 

Jane Mansbridge adds: I thought all of Jennifer Hochschild’s suggestions were right except I was not sure that publishing in hard/paper at the same time hurt one in reviews.   The chances of a trade review going “way down, perhaps to zero” with simultaneous paper seemed to me unlikely.  I know that publishers like to put out the hardcover first and the paper version a year later because then they get most of the sales to libraries in the hardcover, which is more expensive and brings them a higher profit.  So, perhaps  we need to get the facts clearer.

My father, who once was an editor, used to say, “Get someone else to write the book, but make sure to do the index yourself.”  (He did not mean the first half of the sentence literally.)  By that he meant that only an author can know the central concepts of a book, and that after all the work of writing it, it was important to give attention to the means by which many readers will use the book after it is written. 

Sara Mitchell adds: I had simultaneous review at Cambridge and Oxford, so depends on the editor. I have never heard of hard/paper release being problematic for reviews. I have done my own index for each book using a program called Textract. This costs less than $100 per book, much cheaper than what presses will charge.

Frances Rosenbluth adds:  As Dreesen says, the reason many junior scholars want a paperback out simultaneously is to get the book read as widely as possible as soon as possible.  The press, on its part, has to believe that the book will sell enough copies to cover the cost of publishing.

One other thing you might emphasize in the section on literature review is that editors do not want to see “dissertation-eze.”  This is the scaffolding that held the argument together while they were sifting through the literature.  A book, unlike a dissertation, should start right into the central argument of the book; the literature becomes background knowledge or competing hypotheses.  Take down the scaffolding so we can see the edifice. Also, many agents now do the job of editors in helping with the substance of the book. Agents also can help you in placing the book and in getting the best deal possible.

Michel Swers adds: This is incredibly clear and comprehensive advice. I might add a note that different practices apply at different stages in the career.  For the first book I would never suggest an advanced contract but the second book when you already have an established relationship with the press and a proven record, there I agree with Jennifer that the advanced contract might be helpful if you are going up for a promotion (tenure, or full professor).

Also on the prospectus, one part of the prospectus that is very important to presses these days is what is the market for the book and what is the competing work out there.  Here you need to explain your audience and suggest courses that might use the book but don’t oversell.  When describing the competing work explain how your work differs/goes further etc.

Finally I might add a note that books are not always the best venue for some work. For empirical political scientists and methodologists whose main contribution is a new method for studying a question they might be better off with a series of articles. The methodology section of your dissertation will not translate to a book chapter and should be relegated to a short description in the text of a relevant chapter and if needed further detail in an appendix in the book or an online appendix.  I agree with your point that books require stories and elaboration so regressions need to be supplemented with case studies and interviews that illustrate the point.  Mixed methods work well in a book.

From Denise Walsh.  I want to add a couple of points: 

  1. There is an American Society for Indexing with a helpful “Indexer Locator” for those who do not wish to do their own index: http://www.asindexing.org/find-an-indexer
  2. I know of someone who had two excellent university presses interested in their second book. This person negotiated with the preferred press and was able to get a significant raise in the advance, a guaranteed simultaneous paper and hardback, and an increase in the royalty percentages.
  3. The most important thing for someone working on a first book often is the timeline. My impression is that over the past few years this timeline has been condensed at the publishers end given various software innovations. Speaking with someone who recently published a book at a press you are considering and asking about their timeline would be helpful. It also is important for tenure track candidates to be in close communication with editors throughout the process about the timeline.

Sometimes, for example, reviewers submit their comments late; reminding your editor of your ticking clock can help to get those comments completed. It also is critical to speak with people in your department well in advance regarding timing. Often, a department meets in the late fall to discuss a candidate¹s tenure file. Tenure-track candidates should ask the department chair to walk them backwards in time from that moment, so that they know what needs to be in their tenure file and when. Then, the candidate can determine at what point the full manuscript must be delivered to the press, and working backwards from there, when the book proposal needs to be sent to the press, and first contact made with prospective editors.

From Chuck Myers, Director, University Press of Kansas:

This is a very good piece.  I have a few comments that I’ll tag to paragraphs.
2-3: It is important that the press and the author agree on the audience for the book so this is an important point for the prospectus.  But even more important the author should have a clear idea who they are writing for from the beginning.  The audience determines the way you phrase the question you are asking, the language you use, the assumptions you make about the background of the reader, what they know about the topic, and why they care about it. The introduction should be written to engage your audience.  I like your idea of opening with a story.  I like the idea of including stories throughout books.  After all stories, narrative, have been the way people have learned for thousands of years. 4.  Keep the lit review focused.  You don’t need to cite everything remotely related to your topic.  I agree with Jennifer’s comments.
5:  I also agree that methods discussions can be placed in an appendix especially if they get pretty technical.
6:  In the roadmap, focus on your big idea.

How to Get the Book Published
1:  Remember that the prospectus is a selling document.  You want to excite the editor about your book.  So be clear about why your book matters.
2:  Do some research on what presses are publishing.  Look for series that your book might fit in.  This means that the best home for your book might be in a series at a smaller press.
3:  Please don’t cold call an editor.  Just as you are busy, so are we and getting a call from someone about their book without warning is not a good strategy.  E-mail a description of the book to the editor
and book at time to talk.  Then the editor can be prepared with either interest or perhaps advice about where else to publish the book.  We go to conferences to meet with authors so get in touch a few weeks in advance and make an appointment.  Editors turn books down because of fit with the kinds of books they are publishing or because they have too many  books in the process at any given time.  I agree though that editors at conferences are often harried and it is important to have a concise and exciting presentation of your book.

      5: I understand your advice and generally do not request an exclusive but some editors, particularly from smaller presses, do.  They do this because reviewing takes time and resources and they need to decide
where to invest those resources.  So do not automatically refuse an exclusive.  If you give an editor an exclusive you should get a firm time commitment–say three months–after which the exclusive expires
so that you are not stuck. Advance contracts can be better than you characterize them.  Yes, because of the obligation of peer review we must have the completed manuscript reviewed.  But I regard the advance contract as a real commitment, have worked with authors under advance contracts reading chapters etc., and believe there is an obligation to do my best to make it work.  Also, as your commentators said, there can be good professional reasons for advance contracts.  I am upfront with authors about the pluses and minuses of advance contracts.

   6:  On the hardback/paperback question it still makes a difference in mainstream publications whether the book comes out in a jacketed hardback or paperback.  Do any of the trade houses publish their
nonfiction first in paper?  Did Ira Katznelson’s recent Norton book or the Pickety book come out in paper first? NO  It is not just revenue especially since library sales have been declining for some time.  At Princeton about five years ago there was a panel of leading book review editors–NYROB, the NY Times, the TLS– and they all said it made a difference if the book came out in jacketed hardback.  Paperback originals were seen as for the text market.    Now if your book is a scholarly book and has no potential for mainstream review or sales, it might not make much of a difference because the scholarly  review outlets don’t seem to care about format and getting it in the hands of teachers is more important.  On the contract publishers will rarely make a commitment on price or hardback/paperback although you can sometimes get a commitment to publish a paperback within, say, 18 months.
8:  I’m not sure what the press will say if an author asks for a new copyeditor.  The presses I’ve been at work to fix problems with copyediting;  I’d like to know more about the range of practice in that area.  Also, the editorial board and the marketing staff will have opinions about titles.  I prefer titles with information.  I have never forced an author to take a title they don’t like but we have had many lively discussions.
Thanks for doing this.  I hope these comments help. Charles Myers , Director , University Press of Kansas

Kristen concludes. These are just a few thoughts. As you can see, there is some difference of opinion, even among the few people I consulted. So free advice can be worth what you pay for it. Nonetheless, I personally found some of the comments I received from others very helpful to me, so I hope some of these comments will be helpful to you. My thanks to the members of the Advisory Board and the editors who were kind enough to share their own comments. The rich diversity of their responses should make it clear that there is a lot of good advice out there and that people have to pick and choose according to what works best for them. Good luck, and remember to have fun! We’re essentially in this business because we love it, and shouldn’t lose sight of that fact.

Note to readers: Please send questions to Kristen Renwick Monroe at KRMonroe@UCI.Edu. Please let us know if you wish to have your real name used. Unless otherwise instructed, we will provide a pseudonym.  (Unless you request otherwise, I will not share your name with any members of the Advisory Board either.) The next columns will address a variety of topics, from dealing with sexual harassment to finding a balance between career/professional life and personal/family life and issues of special concern to women of color and to members of the LGBT community in political science. This is your column; please send the questions that concern you, and we will try to answer them as best we can.

One thought on “Wondering Woman: How to write a book and then get it published

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    October 6, 2016 at 6:30 am
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