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09/18/2015

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an author

Thanks Marcus,
Two remarks:
1. Of course sales matter. Publishing a book is a big deal, and a lot of expense for the publisher. If they can only anticipate 100 sales, then it is unlikely they will be interested in pursuing your book idea. That is one of the values of publishing with the most reputable presses: Cambridge Univ. Press, Oxford Univ. Press, Harvard Univ. Press, Princeton Univ. Press, and Routledge. Serious libraries consider buying many of their books. As you work with more obscure presses, it is far less likely that many libraries will bother buying the book. Indeed, for many academic books, library sales are a significant portion of the sales. They are certainly a significant portion of early sales.
2. There is a less jaded reading to give to the remarks you make about Presses asking about the prospective author. They are interested in knowing whether this person is a recognized expert in their sub-field, and whether the book will sell because people want to read what she ahs to say on the topic. If the person has no reputation in the area, or a bad one, then it is not in the interest of the Press (or anyone) to have a book on the topic by that person.

Marcus Arvan

Hi 'an author': Thanks for your comment. I agree with almost all of what you say, with one exception.

You write: "If the person has no reputation in the area, or a bad one, then it is not in the interest of the Press (or anyone) to have a book on the topic by that person."

This conditional has to be false, right?

Wittgenstein had no reputation in his area before publishing the Tractatus, but--although few publishers were smart enough to recognize it at the time (he did have trouble getting it published)--it *was* in their interest to publish it, as it was a work of genius later recognized as such. Of course there are few "Wittgensteins" out there, but great books by people who were previously "nobodies" are not unheard of--just like great scripts by nobodies aren't unheard of in Hollywood, great music from nobodies in common in the music industry, etc.

Sometimes great ideas come out of nowhere, from the most unlikely of individuals--and, if their work is really good, it may be in the interest to invest in and put it out there. I'm not suggesting this is the usual case. I'm just saying that the conditional you stated is surely too strong.

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