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06/21/2014

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Shen-yi Liao

The status quo for book manuscript submissions does not seem to be one place at a time. I have been asked to review the same proposal by multiple publishers, though it was more of a textbook than a research manuscript.

There was an old discussion at http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2007/12/advice-about-su.html

Marcus Arvan

Hi Shen-yi: You mention manuscripts and proposals. In a comment on my previous post, Anon Book Referee said that:

(1) it's okay to send book *proposals* to many places at once, but
(2) it's not okay to send full manuscripts to many places at once.

Since no one contradicted Anon, I assumed these are the actual norms.

Does anyone else here have any clue--to perhaps settle the issue once and for all--what the standard norms are?

Marcus Arvan

Ah -- I now see what the general consensus is over at the Leiter thread you linked to. The general consensus, apparently, is...there is no consensus. Great.

Seriously, the only real thing anyone seems to agree on is that it *may* be okay to ask an editor if they mind if you have the book ms. reviewed elsewhere. But, even if book editors are okay with it, there was at least one referee on the Leiter threat who said they would be "furious" if they found out a book was under review else (as might happen if they were asked to referee the same ms. by a second or third press).

Egad! Once again, it seems to me, we need far more disciplinary-wide clarity -- among editors, reviewers, and authors -- on what norms and expectations are...

Another ethics prof

Trying to please everyone is usually not a great idea. Here's my understanding, both as author (of one book) and referee. (As far as I know, this understanding is fairly widely shared.) It's totally OK to contact several presses at the same time with a proposal and an inquiry of their interest in reviewing the MS. You should, however, mention in your cover email that this is what you're doing. If some press doesn't like this, sod them; there are several respectable presses. As author, I approached three presses. Each was interested, and the two presses with which I decided to pursue matters further were both happy to referee the MS concurrently. As referee, I have reviewed manuscripts that were concurrently under review at, and later on published by, another press. Typically the referee wouldn't know this at the time, and I was totally OK with it when I found out later on. The process from initial proposal to acceptance for publication is often long and often careers are at stake. An odd jackass aside, chances are that most referees are mindful of all this.

Former UP editorial assistant

I'm late to the party, but I may have something useful to say. I have very limited experience with journals, but I used to work at a university press. I was a student assistant, not an editor, but I had enough miscellaneous tasks around the place to pick up how things generally worked. The policy at my press was to reject any manuscript under review at other presses. This may not be the case at all presses, however.

My overall impression is that getting a book published is very different than getting an article published, because there are different considerations involved. Book publishers are 1. dealing with much longer works, and 2. thinking about the market for the book, which may not be the same as the audience for academic journals. When you've got a book to shop around, it's a good idea to get in touch with editors before sending manuscripts; send query letters and proposals first, or make contact with press representatives at conferences. Communicating with the press before sending a manuscript will give you a much better idea of their level of interest, and you can be in communication with more than one press at a time without running afoul of any policies they may have about manuscripts being reviewed elsewhere. Plus, you get a start on building the working relationship with your (potential) editor, which is important, because you'll be working with them throughout the process of publishing the book, which does not end when the book comes off the press.

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