Much (virtual) ink has been spilt on philosophy blogs over the problems of getting published: when to start submitting (so that, by the time one hits the job market, one has a publication or two in hand), finding a suitable venue, getting timely updates on the status of one's manuscript, addressing (more or less informed, and often conflicting) reviewers' comments, and finally receiving a -- hopefully positive -- verdict from the journal editors. In the spirit of my promised series of posts on 'publishing as process', I want to look at what happens after one’s paper has been accepted. So let's assume that your manuscript has passed all these hurdles and your manuscript has been accepted -- congratulations, you've just had your first publication! Or...have you?
To be sure, for the purposes of one's CV, an accepted paper is just as good as a published piece, but eventually you will want to see your paper appear in print (or at least in the form of a citeable, paginated pdf). And often there is not only a significant time lag between acceptance and publication, but also considerable work that needs to be done. In particular, many publishers have developed a habit of requesting proofs to be corrected within 72 hours (sometimes less!) -- this, to add insult to the injury, after months and months of the author's waiting for referee's reports, for replies from understaffed editorial offices, and for a final verdict on whether or not the paper has been accepted.
When I first started out writing papers in philosophy (with the exception of my first paper, a counterexample to Ian Hacking's entity realism, which I wrote as a second-year graduate student), I held a post-doc without teaching duties and, as a result, had all the time in the world. (Not that it seemed like it at the time...) When I received referees' comments or proofs, I was able to attend to them immediately and return the manuscript and/or corrections. (I also made the beginner's mistake of working on just one paper at any given time, seeing it through to publication before embarking on the next writing project.)
When I started my tenure-track job, not only did teaching and admin begin to require a lot of time, I also started submitting more papers and, over time, began to publish more. As a result, I found myself more than once scrambling to meet deadlines -- including those unreasonable 'please return within 72 hrs' deadlines imposed by publishers. The important thing, I found, was not to let the logistics of proofreading, obtaining rights (e.g. for illustrations), and liaising with editorial offices eat into the time for research. Need to return publishing agreements? Sign them and fax them back immediately (but do read them first and, where necessary, object to unnecessarily restrictive clauses). Correcting proofs? Use the time between two lectures to get through a few pages and, if necessary, continue during the next short break (but don't let it eat into the time you've set aside for new writing).
Much of this may sound common-sensical to established scholars, but it took me a while to figure out. As a graduate student, I certainly wasn't aware of the demands on one's time that the (post-acceptance) publishing process would create. When 'getting published' is the primary goal, the 'mechanics' of the publishing process are easy to overlook. I'm curious to hear how other people deal with these issues -- any thoughts?