WRITING AND GETTING A MONOGRAPH PUBLISHED. Presentation at University of Kent, Canterbury, November 27th, 2013. What are publishers looking for (in a monograph)?. One problem for all authors is that fewer and fewer publishers are willing to publish scholarly monographs
Presentation at University of Kent, Canterbury, November 27th, 2013
One problem for all authors is that fewer and fewer publishers are willing to publish scholarly monographs
Publishers are looking for textbooks, professional reference and scholarly reference works, for sale to a global audience
Subject specific monograph publishing is not in fashion – because of declining sales, the threat of Open Access, preference for online journals, e-book collections,
Publishers who will publish monographs are usually looking for something extra – which could be potential sales in paperback to Masters students, potential sales to a general audience, or “special sales” to a group, society, corporate etc.
The demands of REF are perceived , by publishers, to favour journal publications
Global market for monographs is still shrinking in many disciplines. From print runs of 2000 in the early 1980s, to 1000 in the 1990s, to 250-300 today.
Distribution is global, but purchasing is confined to a shrinking number of elite universities
The Open Access movement has taken the publishing industry by surprise, and there are worries that it will eventually lead to monographs being published OA
Your justification for writing a monograph must be a good one, as the effort involved is massive:
Have you time to write a book, and how will you live while you do it?
Will you need to find and apply for funding?
Will you need to apply for a job – tenured or non-tenured i.e. post-doctoral positions?
Have you material to develop into a book? How much research do you still need to undertake and how long will this take?
Perhaps you already have, or expect to have a manuscript e.g. a PhD thesis.
Would journal articles be a better or faster output? Will you reach a wider audience by publishing online?
Consider other outputs. Conference papers, chapters in books, journalism, reports or policy papers.
Will you speak about your book at conferences?
Will you use the book for teaching?
Will you spin off other research?
Will you even be working in this field again?
You should write for yourself.
Show your work to people whose views you trust and who will be brutally honest with you.
And remember, you are no longer speaking to one, two or three people, but to an audience of hundreds, possibly even thousands…
good books for lawyers
What should I write about to improve my chances of getting a publishing contract?
Is there a secret to converting a good thesis into a good book? There are things you will almost certainly have to do:
Change the word ‘thesis’ to ‘book’
Think very carefully about your methodology section
How much of the thesis is speaking to the examiners and how much is original.
Strengthen introduction and conclusions
Cut out repetitious linkages
If the thesis presents an unorthodox argument, decide on your message and emphasise it throughout the book. De-emphasise secondary points
Update and add new chapters if asked
Authors regularly have problems deciding on titles.
Which is better?
Title: Regulation, Recidivism and Reform
Sub-title: The Privatisation of Prisons in the UK
Title: The Privatisation of Prisons in the UK
Sub-title: Regulation, Recidivism, Reform
Assume readers will not discover your book online, not in libraries.
Who publishes the books that you read and use regularly?
Who are the publishers currently publishing in your area? Look at their websites.
What is the quality of their books? Are they well edited and produced?
What are the publishers’ pricing policies? Compare
Who do your colleagues recommend?
Which publisher best meets your future needs in terms of prestige/distribution/impact?
Do a little bit of research
This will vary from publisher to publisher
Is the book likely to be:
Likely to be influential?
Likely to enjoy longevity?
What is the readership?How large is the market?
Explain your methodology – e.g. is your approach theoretical, empirical, historical, philosophical?
What writing style are you aiming for? Try to demonstrate it.
Describe the book in 300-400 words
Provide detailed table of contents
Provide a brief cv
Provide a brief critical literature review
If a thesis, include examiners’ reports
If a thesis, explain how you plan to revise it
Remember to include the thesis, revised or unrevised
How long will the book be, and when will you finish it
The publisher will make an initial evaluation
There may then be a peer review process
Receive and respond to criticisms
Be willing to rewrite
Take the opportunity to hone your style
The publisher is taking too long. What do I do?
My examiners’ reports were not positive
Can I make simultaneous submissions to publishers?
How do I deal with rejection?
I want to publish articles from the thesis
British publishers now deal with academic books from all over the world – English is increasingly the chosen language for publication
Not every worthwhile book manuscript will be of sufficiently wide interest to merit commercial publication
Some publishers are very wary of doctorates
Many doctorates now available electronically via university repositories
We receive 1500+ proposals annually
We accept 1 in 10 proposals
Q: A publisher has offered me a contract, but has told me that I must either subsidise publication with my own cash, or produce an index and pay for editing. Is this normal?
Q: What terms should I expect for publication of my first book?
Q: How long does publication take?
Q: Does it help to be in a series?
Q: How many copies will my thesis/book sell?
Choose the right publisher
2. Prepare a proposal specifically for that publisher
3. Don’t worry about rejection
4. Be prepared to write and rewrite, and be willing to take the advice of those whose views you trust
5. Be realistic about deadlines…
Throughout your career, only ever publish what you want to write about, not what you think will help you get the next job. Write with a passion for your subject, and don’t ever worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. Leave that for the publisher to lose sleep over. It is what makes our jobs interesting…