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On the basis of papers I've presented, I've been emailed by publishers to meet at the APA to discuss whether the papers were part of a larger project that I would be interested in publishing with them. My general sense from these meetings was that the people I met with were for the most part not well prepared for the meetings and that one ought to be suspicious when a random publisher is soliciting proposals and manuscripts from an unknown, early career author. As an analogue: Just think of all the emails from predatory journals asking you to submit some paper you gave at a conference. How many emails do you get from *good* journals that ask you to do that? To be clear: I don't think publishers that are soliciting manuscripts are bad, but again, I would be cautious.

Speaking to the reader's first question, I would try to get a general sense of how the editors you're meeting with tick and how you get along with them, how the press handles peer review, whether they provide copy-editing, and what their production timeline is. If you haven't written a proposal before, you could also ask the press directly about that (I received a very helpful guideline from a publisher) and about what topics the they are particularly interested in publishing (this yields astounding answers in my experience).


I will agree that it is a bad idea to try and publish a book if you do not have a permanent position. The *exception* would be if you already have a few good pieces in top journals - then, maybe, you have nothing to lose.

Maybe I've been too ambitious or unlucky, but my experience trying to publish a book has been that it is basically like trying to publish a very long peer-reviewed article.

The proposal is the easy part. The difficult part has been that these publishers (1) want to see a complete draft of the manuscript; (2) put it through a standard peer-review process (with possible decisions of reject, R&R, and accept); and (3) will only review the manuscript if I agree not to send it elsewhere. Basically, the book has to be a finished product (other than indexing and editing for clarity) before a contract will be issued. Just like a journal article.

It would be easy if one could get a book contract with just a proposal and sample chapter. If a respectable, middle-ranked publisher offers that, I'd say go for it.

If it is going to be the kind of process I've encountered, it is probably better to hold off. Build up a solid CV with journal articles, and if the book project ends up going into peer review hell for multiple years, it will not matter.

Bill Vanderburgh

I have heard of Philosophy departments that don't weight books very much in tenure decisions--getting more journal articles might count for more for such places. But SLACs probably aren't like that (are they?).

The worry about predatory publishers is genuine. Do your due diligence. If they say you will need to pay anything at all to get it published, walk away.

If your project is of interest to one publisher, it might be of interest to others. Given the early stage of your career, time is on your side and there is no rush to publish, so pursue the best press you can.

I'd recommend getting Laura Portwood-Stacer's _The Book Proposal Book_. It is all about putting together a good package for academic publishers to consider. Send your proposal out to several publishers to gauge interest. (As long as you mention that you are doing that in your cover letter, book publishers are unlike journals in that simultaneous submission is not forbidden.)

The academic book publishing process can take a LONG time. More than a year. So you likely won't have the book in hand, and maybe not even a contract, in time for the next job round.

When I've seen cv's of junior people with books under contract, it generally hasn't swayed me much. The chances of completing the manuscript on time (or at all) are uncertain, and even when finished the publisher might not accept the manuscript. Such things are essentially mere, "Works in Progress," which is a hope rather than an achievement. So it might be less impressive on the cv than more peer reviewed articles.

All that said, take the meeting. Even if nothing come of it, it is a good opportunity for an experience that might be valuable to you later.

Daniel Kaufman

Something I noticed getting more common within the last ten years. Publishers approaching me to do textbooks or anthologies, only to discover that the point is to sell them to my own students. No marketing, sale’s strategy, etc. Essentially an overpriced course pack.

know the whole picture

Something else to note about publishers - they differ in a variety of ways. Some - Cambridge and Oxford - do pay you royalties for sales. I certainly do not live for or on my royalties, but they can generate thousands of dollars (rather than hundreds or tens of thousands). This is a small perk, but it is worth keeping in mind. A more obscure or lower ranked press may sell very few copies of your book - there will be fewer readers (and less royalties, assuming they pay them at all).
Perhaps the biggest perk I have from publishing with a highly ranking publisher are the invitations to conferences. I have enjoyed this very much, and it also contributes to selling your book (which also contributes to it being read widely).

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