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Michael Cholbi

Interesting data. Here's my own, based on 23 of my published papers since 2005 (info here: http://philpapers.org/profile/8811)

On average, I've had to submit to 4.9 journals before acceptance.
6 papers were accepted by the first journal I submitted to, 2 by the second journal I submitted to.
1 paper was accepted by the 18th journal submitted to, 2 at the 13th journal submitted to.
I don't have the details on decision times, but the average time from the first submission of a given paper to any journal until the paper was accepted at any journal was about 13 months.

So, yes persistence!

Sam Duncan

So two things: 1. It's heartening to see that papers can be rejected so many times and find a good home. I've one that I think is quite good that's gotten about 7 rejections so far, so maybe I'm not completely wrong about it's quality or prospects. I haven't track as carefully as Michael but I'd say my own average is also close to four or five as well. 2. Could you guys ever run a post on publishing a book here? I'm wondering a lot about the process these days and a lot of the faculty I know give one the same distorted advice you get from a lot of people with elite pedigrees (if it ain't Oxford or Cambridge don't even bother). They mean well but have no idea what goes on outside their little corner of our profession. I'm wondering a. Just what are the respectable presses in philosophy? (I know huge question and more than a little subjective too). b. How much of the book should you have written before you even shop the proposal? c. How long do presses take to get back to you? Anyway feel free to ignore that here; I don't want to hijack this thread, but it would be a helpful one for the future.

Roman Altshuler

Hi Sam, Leiter did a survey a few years back of philosophy publisher reputations, so it's probably a good place to start:


My experience with presses has only been with one book, but response times seemed to vary dramatically. Rejections from Harvard and Princeton came within two weeks, while OUP can easily take a year (I suspect they're faster if you're famous).

Marcus Arvan

Hi Sam: great questions! Yes, I'd be happy to run a series on book publishing. I went through the book proposal process for the first time a couple of years ago (for a book now under contract), and my experience with the process was very illuminating. I'll start a new series on it in the next week or two!

Sam Duncan

Marcus: Great, I'm really looking forward to it. I guess I'll just throw a few more questions in the mix too while I'm at it: d. Is it acceptable to send out proposals to multiple presses at the same time? Is it a good idea? I know Leiter had a thread on this a while back and absolutely no one could agree. e. Is it a good idea to send informal emails asking about interest in the book before sending in a formal proposal?

Roman: Thanks for the list. That's helpful. Also, good to know about OUP's insane review time. They've published some amazing stuff in my subfield recently like Bob Stern's "Understanding Moral Obligation" and Lisa Herzog's "Inventing the Market," but not being famous myself that makes me think I'd be better off giving them a pass when I do get around to shopping my own proposal.

Helen DC

Interesting exercise. I've done the exercise for my own submissions (total of 28 papers). For the papers I had to retry multiple times my memory is not reliable, but it can't have been more than 5-6 times because that's when I throw in the towel. My average number of submissions for each accepted article is 1.75. I have no reliable data on R&R, but my sense is at least 70% of my articles were R&Rs. I've never had an outright acceptance. 75% of my articles were accepted in the first journal I sent them to.
I think my average number of submissions is relatively low because I do not care overtly about journal prestige. Rather, I'm looking for fit between the readership of the journal, and other papers that have been published in it. This might be a risk-aversive strategy, but I have little patience to see my papers bounce back and forth multiple times. I have two papers in general, quite high-prestige journals (both accepted at first attempt), but I had a sense they would fit well in ongoing discussions in those venues. It's important to realize so-called "general" philosophy journals are really quite specialist - often more constrained in content than specialist journals - so it does not make sense to submit something to them unless one has a sense they could contribute to debates in those journals (by contrast, it's more usual to see weird (and fun) papers in specialist journals. That's why I prefer reading specialist journals!)

Elisa Freschi

Same as Helen. I only received few rejections and R & R, no straight acceptance (out of 27 papers). The reason for the fact that I received only few rejections probably lies in the fact that:
—I never submit papers to Synthese, Mind, etc. I only submit papers to specialised journals, in some cases also to new ones, who were happy to receive submissions.
—In some cases, I was participating to special issues of journals, edited by a particular person who had invited me to submit. I guess this may have made things smoother since I knew exactly what they were looking for.
—In some cases (five), I was the guest editor of the special issue.
—In two cases, I had previously discussed the paper in a session on Academia.edu. I do not know whether you ever used them, but I received *so much* good advice and astute criticism that I could basically do a R & R before submitting the paper.

Roman Altshuler

Sam: You can send out proposals to as many presses as you want. I think the disagreement is more about whether you can send *manuscripts* to multiple presses.

About OUP: You can effectively treat it as two presses and submit manuscripts to both the US and the UK editors. The US editor responded within a reasonable time, said he wasn't interested, but suggested that we try the UK editor (who is known for taking forever; I never even heard from him about the proposal, since a different press accepted it before he even read it; and I had a chapter in another collection that was under review with him for at least a year).

It's also a good idea, though not necessary, to chat with the editors at APA meetings before sending them anything. This wasn't an issue for me: both of the editors who expressed interest were people I'd never met in person. But at the very least, knowing someone personally can help you get a faster response.

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