Given that we are a community of early-career philosophers, I thought it might be helpful to share and discuss "publishing secrets." What follows are a couple of secrets that I think I've learned -- that, as usual, I should probably note that they are only my thoughts, not "advice" per se. I'm curious to hear what you all think, and hope you all share some of your "secrets" as well!
Publishing Secret #1: send a lot of stuff out
About halfway through my first year in my first job, when I still hadn't published anything, I asked a couple of very successful people I'd gone to grad school with -- people who had published a ton in very good journals -- what "their secret" was. Both of them told me the same thing: send out a lot of stuff. Both of them said they had anywhere from 7-10 pieces under review at journals at any given time. This struck me as beyond my capabilities (at the time, I was only working on one or pieces for months on end), but their rationale for it made sense to me. They both said, "Look, journals have acceptance rates of 5-10%. If you have 1 piece out at a journal, 90-95% of the time it will get rejected...even if it is good! On the other hand, if you have 10 pieces out at journals, chances alone dictate you'll get one or two acceptances." After a couple of years of struggling, I took their advice. And here are the results. Before taking it, I had published only two short reply pieces in over two years. Since taking the advice, I've published 7 full-length articles in two years. In other words, the advice really seemed to work.
Some might object to this strategy (of sending out a lot of stuff constantly). Indeed, in response to my earlier post on research strategies (where I also advocated sending a lot of stuff out), some commenters over the Smoker argued that we all have a duty to not clog up the peer-review system with second-rate papers. Personally, I don't think we have any such duty. I simply don't see any good ethical grounds for thinking we do. The way I see it, my duty is to do the best work I can and send it out -- and it is reviewers' and journals' duties to reject my work if it sucks. But anyway, I am not going to argue for this here. I'll leave the ethics of the practice up to you, and to discussion. I am simply relaying a "publishing secret" that I was given, and reporting how it worked in my own case. If you all would like to debate the ethics of it, I'm all for it.
Publishing Secret #2: write like a faculty member, not a grad student
Although I heard this one from many people a long time ago (as far back as graduate school), I think I've only begun to appreciate it recently. It's hard to explain exactly what it is, but there seem to be distinctly "grad student" and "faculty" patterns of writing that make a difference with reviewers. The best I can put the difference is this: there's a kind of quiet assurance of faculty writing that distinguishes it from grad student writing. As a grad student, you need to demonstrate to your profs a mastery of the literature -- so, when you write papers, you really spend a great deal of time showing that (e.g. citing everything under the sun). Faculty, it seems to me, write very differently. They know that their readers assume they have a mastery of the literature. Their papers begin with a very direct and to-the-point explanation of what the paper is about, and they lay out their arguments confidently. The paper that really hammered this home with me is this one by Jason Brennan (who I went to grad school with). Setting aside questions of content (I myself tend to find Brennan's arguments quite unconvincing), notice how assured the paper is. Brennan doesn't mince words. He doesn't waste time summarizing all of the literature, etc. He just gets on with it. And reviewers, I think, tacitly recognize the difference. They are far more apt to accept papers that are assured and to the point over papers that are less assured.
Anyway, these are two "publishing secrets" I think I've learned. Anyone have any of their own?