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Need to ask your acquiring editor for a status letter about your project for your tenure or promotion file? Here are some dos and don’ts for asking for one, especially in a time where we are all trying to do more with less. (a thread)
✅ Do ask for a publication status letter a couple of weeks in advance. Asking too soon may mean the letter isn’t as up to date as possible. Asking too late may mean a letter isn’t possible or isn’t as detailed because of time constraints.
✅ Do specify who the letter should be addressed to if it should be directed to someone other than you as the author. And, because formal letters still include a physical address in the heading, it can help to include the correct institutional mailing address with the request.
✅ Do mention if there is anything the letter should specifically address. Putting this information in the initial email ask can preempt some back and forth and save everyone time.
✅ Do ask for the letter in a way that you might appreciate a student to ask for a LOR or how you would ask a colleague to serve as a reference—it is a professional courtesy to ask for the letter and not presumptuously tell an editor you need it.
❌ Don’t ask your editor to misrepresent the status of the project. If your committee wants to hear that your book is in press, but it isn’t, it won’t do you or your editor any good to say otherwise and it puts your editor in an awkward position to have to tell you no.
❌ Don’t have a committee member reach out directly to your editor without confirming with your editor that you are okay with them communicating. Academia can be shady, so I won’t talk to anyone, including a department chair, unless an author has explicitly given the green light.
❌ Don’t ask—or have someone from your T & P committee ask—who a reviewer is so you can avoid them as a tenure or promotion external reader. Anonymity is a big deal, and revealing the identity would be in conflict with the @aupresses Peer Review Best Practices.
✅ Do remember that an author and editor are a team working together to get your book the best it can be. As your teammate, I’m happy to write a status letter and support your professional goals beyond the book in any way I can.
✅ Do also keep these things in mind if you are asking your editor for a letter of interest for job applications, a letter of support for a grant or fellowship application, or any other sort of letter of support or recommendation.
Two things I always try to underscore: if you have questions, just ask! It is your editor’s job to answer. And, there isn’t one right way for the publishing process to go. This means your editor or your friend’s editor may need other details, and that is okay.
Last but not least: ✅ Do remember that it is always important to be generous with yourself, especially right now. Keep up the good work on your book manuscript! And if you can’t work right now, that’s okay, too.
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