AACC liveblog: Getting Published: Eisenbraun’s guide to getting published

If you have a monograph you want published here are Jim Eisenbraun’s tips for getting there.

  1. Start with a well thought out proposal – including your idea, its genesis, how it compares to other works in the field or underway, what need it meets. Is there a market?
  2. The right time to submit a proposal is a bit of a Goldilocks question – you want to have the ability to provide more information upon request without too big a gap in time, but you don’t necessarily need an entire manuscript. Sometimes things come in the form of an expanded article. Which is fine, and a good basis for decision making. Writing a Phd dissertation with publication in mind is useful (if the adviser will permit that). There are dissertations that aren’t worth publishing as a monograph. They’re always so tuned in to the adviser’s goals and philosophy that they can become unmarketable.
  3. Publishers like to be asked what they want, and they are fine with dispensing advice on how to edit a work to make it publishable.
  4. Don’t send an entire manuscript right off the bat – give something that can be read in 15 minutes.
  5. Put effort into your proposal – a badly written proposal will go no further. Grammar matters. Write well. Publishers love good writing. If they have to do a lot of work to your prose it will give them pause. The biggest cost in publishing is human – it’s not the paper and ink. Time spent fixing a manuscript raises costs.
  6. Good English is plain English. Sometimes academics get stuck in the notion that esoteric or made up words sound stronger. That’s not the case. Avoid jargon that I can’t understand what they’re saying. If the publisher, who works in the field, can’t understand what’s being said then what chance does the market have. Unclear jargon is faux-academic.
  7. How to Edit Your Own Writing is a great book full of “aha” moments. The Chicago Manual For Style is the American publisher’s bible.
  8. Eisenbrauns will ask for a proposal, then a chapter, then check with others in the field to make sure the idea will fly. They’re always looking for manuscripts that will advance the discussion, unless it’s a textbook that summarises the state of knowledge.
  9. If it’s a monograph that’s presenting a new idea the question is “will this carry scholarship forward?”
  10. Academic publishers care. They are engaged in the process of developing scholarship.
  11. Eisenbrauns’ review process is double blind and shared – reviewers and writers are not named.
  12. After the review process Eisenbrauns have to make a market decision. There are valuable materials that might only have 50 readers. Print on demand is an option but it looses some of the aesthetic value of the hardback high quality tome.
  13. Eisenbrauns still copy edits. Unlike some other publishers. Authors look at two sets of proofs. They print using traditional offset printing.
  14. The decision to publish, and a contract, may be made at multiple steps in this process. Even from the proposal. Especially if it is someone with a reputation. For first timers a contract is likely to come after seeing some of the finished work. If you want to be published multiple times avoid entering contract limbo.
  15. Finding the right publisher is an issue for writers – find the publisher that markets to your audience. Anybody can publish a book, with a few dollars, the test of publishing is to market. Rejection may not be a question of the quality of the work, find a shoe that fits. Publish with a publisher who prices things in a way that mortals can afford them. $200 monographs are unaffordable.

AACC Live: Getting Published – Jim Eisenbraun

I’m at the Annual Australasian Christian Conference this week – so expect a bunch of posts reporting on theologs and their new and interesting ideas.

Today kicks off with “Getting Published” a guide to those looking to get published now, or in the future.

This morning we’ve got Jim Eisenbraun, the CEO/owner of Eisenbrauns Publishing.

“The rate and volume of publication is expanding rapidly, and that is a challenge for everybody in the academic world.”

It’s no longer possible to read everything in your field – there’s so much out there in terms of the history and the stuff being written in our time, even last month.

The challenge is now to pick what to read.

The reality for publishers is that fewer copies of any work are selling. The rate of publication is increasing while the rate of purchasing is decreasing – you don’t have to be an economist to see a problem. This explains why academic books are so expensive.

Publishing in an esoteric area you’re looking to sell about 350 copies. Publishing is an economic exercise. Electronic publishing is becoming a factor.

You can charge for content, but people are unwilling to pay for content when it’s online. There’s a changing social component in the move from printed content to content online – are we willing to pay for something that we can’t physically carry away with us. There’s something psychological at play. There’s less of a reality in our minds.

Publishers are facing this difficulty. Publishers primarily provide a service, not a product. They take a manuscript and turn it into a reader friendly format. Print will stay with us for a while – but the future is electronic. Which creates piracy concerns.

Information wants to be free. Even as a publisher Eisenbraun agrees with that philosophy. But somebody needs to be paid for their efforts. This has an effect on the way publishers view their role and their product. Dealing with this clash between commercial imperatives and the public’s view that information should be free is the modern publisher’s job.

The Google Books program is kind of an uneasy marriage between Google and libraries, and Google and Publishers. Nobody is entirely happy with where it is going, but everybody sees the value of continuing.

There’s a view that the distribution mechanism for academic works is broken – and that the institution should own the copyright to works published by their staff. Harvard make any work produced by their academics freely available – which removes some incentive from academics to publish.

The manuscript review process is being scrutinised by academics and by those seeking to be published. There’s a perception that publication in the modern age does not signify quality. In the past, when a publisher had to put significant resources into publishing there was an understanding that the final product would be worthwhile. One solution is to let the market sort it out – buyers will decide what’s worthwhile and what’s not. Eisenbraun doesn’t think this works. I think The Shack is a case study in why this doesn’t work.