Am at an #APApacific21 session on how to publish with editors from Hackett, Blackwell, Cambridge etc. Focus will be on non-fiction philosophy publishing. Will put some tips in the thread 1/
How to approach a publisher? Depends on what you want to write (tips by Jeff Dean, Hackett)
Trade publishing, for a wide audience, is a world on its own (big-5 publishers eg. Penguin). You'll need an agent and you'll need to work in close consultation with the press 2/
Focusing on academic publishing. What kind of project do you have? What format will it be? E.g., monograph--meant usually for your peers or people in adjacent fields.
Primarily published by university presses, but commercial publishers also do a lot of them. 3/
Other projects:
* academic trade book: academic, used in some courses but also accessible enough for audience outside of academic setting for philosophy
* reference book
* text book
* anthology vs single-authored book
This all affects who you will publish it with. 4/
How to choose the right publisher?
Don't just google websites.
Good starting point: who published the kind of books that your book will be like.
Note: mark the publication date! Publishers shift in attention over time. Needs to be a recent project they did. 5/
Jana Hodges-Kluck at Lexington is next on.
Find a publisher who is a good fit for your project.
It's okay to send simultaneous submissions for book proposals.
Don't send a letter to the wrong publisher! (makes an initial bad impression) 6/
Be on the lookout, some publishers have several series (e.g., @andphilosophy series), and your project may be a very natural fit if it goes well in a series. Many publishers also publish frequently outside of set series.
When in doubt, feel free to approach the editor 7/
Check website to see if publisher wants exclusive review or not (often when they send out to external reviewers, exclusivity kicks in). If not clear from their stated policies, then you should feel free to ask.
It's also good to be transparent and say it's a simul submission 8/
Lucy Randall (Oxford University Press) says OUP has detailed guidelines on how to prepare your book proposal.
You'll need to follow those guidelines (most presses have them).
* overview of the book (why does it matter, how fits in the literature, why interesting, relevant .. 9/
(this overview part is super-important. Don't write a dry abstract. You'll need to lay out why the book matters at high level and convey why people will be interested in it)
* other parts eg how fits in market etc are quite similar for book proposals across different presses 10/
* a detailed schedule gives them assurance you've thought about it and are serious about time commitment etc
* CV + say something about yourself and why you are the suitable person to write the book.
* some sample material at early stage is important for OUP 11/
(for trade books the sample materials are really important because it's hard to tell without actual materials but just from a proposal how accessible it will actually be) 12/
It's okay to reach out to OUP editor before you have written up the proposal just to see if your project will fit, even if you do it cold (i.e., have no prior relationship). They can then maybe give your feedback prior to the proposal being sent out for review
Phil Getz, editor at Palgrave for philosophy and religion next.
"Do you consider revised dissertations?" - yes we absolutely do. He will review some tips on how to write an excellent proposal.
There is a generic proposal form which is very useful to use. 14/
If a publisher has *no* proposal template, just adapt one from another publisher. They are helpful for a reason give you prompts on what interests publishers.
Here are some things to consider:
Title - search terms should describe the contents of the book accurately 15/
Next: the high-level description of the book. Think of this as a 1-3 paragraph elevator pitch. There's sometimes a tendency to write these in a very stylized way. Editors, however want clear, succinct & to the point. Don't do poetry. 16/
Then the market: be realistic.
Most academic monographs are intended for a very specific set of researchers. Most textbooks will be used just for courses.
Audience = specific. E.g., "Kant scholars", "Kant ethicists".
Be as specific as possible about who will read your book 17/
Sometimes: secondary audience. Maybe it's a book for Kant scholars but is also suitable for e.g., people doing a grad seminar on Kant's ethics.
Don't try to oversell it. Saying everyone will read on your obscure topics is a red flag (you don't know your audience) 18/
Competing titles: misunderstood part of book proposal. Authors worry that if they say there are other books that they won't sell it. But publishers prefer if there is an active conversation/market not if it's completely out there. Be thoughtful. Who are your interlocutors? 19/
Reprinting earlier works: most of the stuff you'll reuse falls under fair use (e.g., short quotes).
However: quoting large part of another source, epigraph, song lyrics, pictures etc. you will need to acquire permissions. 20/
Pictures are tricky: you'll need multiple permissions eg, from the person who made the image, the person who appears on the image, or even the property on the image. It's often the author's responsibility to acquire these permissions. Be judicious. If in doubt, take it out 21/
Technical specs:
* length (word count, not page counts).
* interactive/online content
* delivery date: final version of MS. 22/
Next up @marissakoors Blackwell philosophy and religion, on the review process.
Different projects have different ways to review (e.g., series editor is often intermediary between press and author).
Different practices in different presses, e.g., sample material required? 23/
It is good to give names of people who might be fair and competent (though no guarantee they'll ask those reviewers)
Also ok to say people that you feel could not review (e.g., conflict of interest, personal issues, etc) it's helpful to know in advance 24/
Koors mentions the pandemic has negatively affected people's willingness to review (WB want at least 3 reviewers so that if there's disagreement they get some idea of where majority opinion lies).
3 weeks for proposal review
6-8 weeks for full MS
now w pandemic = lot longer 25/
Is it okay to ask publisher after say 2-3 months? Yes, it's okay--they can then give you an update. But often they can't really hurry it along (since need to respect reviewers' time). 26/
Considerations with publishers
* is this work going to make a substantial contribution?
* where is its place in the scholarly conversation (reviewer sheds light on this)
* will it be commercially viable (for commercial publishers) 27/
What if you disagree with reviewers? You don't need to agree with everything they say. You can disagree but need to show engagement, and articulate your reasons for disagreement--editor may push back and say this is fairly critical but this becomes more of a negotiation 28/
Keep in mind the editor will be working with you, not with reviewer #2. Still reviewers are useful for them to learn about your competence, importance of the project. Developmental review can help to make the work more useful for you. 29/
Next Hilary Gaskin at CUP on contract. When CUP gets 2 positive review reports + sometimes formal response (pref constructive rather than defiant) from author, she will bring this to the press with some comments on why the project is viable and should be published 30/
(funny: if you write a cheeky response to the CUP reviews it does not at all go down well with the editors/folks at CUP. So best be constructive.) 31/
Two kinds of contract at CUP:
* unconditional: book ok as-is
* conditional: review process was positive but has thrown up some major requests for revisions and they want to check if they're ok. Contract = conditional on whether the original reader thinks it's ok revised 32/
other kind of conditional: if the book wasn't finished yet, then a final read of the book will need to be read by original reviewers to see if it's done to satisfaction 33/
Phil Getz on the market.
A successful monograph in philosophy can sell fewer than 900 copies. Many even sell less than that and they are still considered a success. It's really a tiny market (reality-check...) 34/
Anyone wants to guess how much a philosophy monograph costs? around $15,000 for the lower bound.
Given the tiny expected sales + big costs, you can see the challenges.
Expectations however go up: multiple formats, libraries and individual buyers want low-cost paperback etc 35/
He says we've moved away from a model of individual sales of books toward packages of digital access to libraries.
Decreasing library budgets.
Cutting costs at publishers (e.g., outsourcing)
This is the dynamics we're dealing with today 36/
Christoph Schirmer at The Gruyter next-they do a lot of edited volumes, all areas of philosophy.
Don't get discouraged about rejection. So many proposals!
Don't be afraid to approach an editor. You can ask an editor e.g., during a meeting.
Be transparent when you approach 37/
It's okay to approach several people but it feels bad if then it turns out that you've been negotiating w others without telling them, they've invested time etc in your work only for you to go w someone else. So always let them know 38/
20% of authors say in their proposal "My book is unique no-one has written a book with this focus". Yes of course (otherwise why write it? You'd be ripping off another book).
Rather focus on the bigger scholarly context in which your book can be situated 39/
Sales = not a criterion for scholarly literature.
Market is tiny anyway. 100% possible market for an academic book is just a few hundred.
They won't expect your book to be a bestseller, you don't need to try to convey it will be. It needs to be scholarly good.
Some queries: Do I need an agent for an academic monograph? Koors: Not really, but you can (with Blackwell). Their main job is to sell your book to the publisher. Agents for academic monographs are hands off for editing process (they are more hands on for trade book) 41?
How do you know if a proposal tradebook worthy (i.e., has wider appeal)? -- there's a push toward public humanities. Trend both in author and reader interest.
But some ac publishers are not equipped to reach general market as e.g., Penguin is. 42/
Big trade publishers can get a better discount in getting the book out (not sure if I got this right as I am a bit distracted by outside things...) -- so academic publishers are often not in a good position to get the widest audience as e.g., Penguin has. 43/
(I'm going to end the thread here. This was such a useful and helpful conversation--thank you to the press editors for giving all these clear and helpful tips! /end)

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More from @Helenreflects

10 Apr
Tomorrow I will be part of a panel on prestige and inclusion in Anglo-American philosophy (with @Etienne_Brown @RebeccaBamford and Thierry Ngosso.
Here are some late night thoughts on the following puzzle:
Why don't we have an international philosophical community? 1/
@Etienne_Brown @RebeccaBamford It is remarkable to see how fractured the philosophical community is. I have worked and lived in 4 countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, the UK, and the US. And in those 4 (wealthy, western) countries, there are distinct philosophical communities, but overall ... 2/
Little in the way of collaborations. If you look beyond western countries, things look even bleaker. As a little test, try to think of names of philosophers working in two African countries with a lively philosophical tradition: Ghana and South Africa. How many can you name? 3/
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9 Apr
Going (virtually) to the #PacificAPA21 session for John Martin Fischer session on death, immortality & meaning of life. My motivation was: difficult to concentrate on Zoom, let's do a lighter session.
Only in academic philosophy would death, meaning of life be seen as "lighter"!
He's now arguing against the "immortality curmudgeons", who think that immortality would be bad (e.g., terribly boring)
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Read 4 tweets
3 Apr
Piece by Tom Hanks on how the pandemic indicates playing solitaire is no longer in the cards, seeing how short and precious our time is.
Is he trolling or what? On the assumption he's not joking, here's my defense of solitaire in the light of pandemic 1/…
What's Tom Hanks' reasoning? "If in the past year you played solitaire, even a single game, you wasted that time. Take it from me: I played many hands of the game and have nothing to show for the effort" - I don't see how the pandemic could have affected this judgment 2/
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1 Apr
April fool's jokes are interesting for philosophers of language.
Here are some conditions that an ideal April fool's joke meets:
1. The joke needs to be such that it becomes very clear from the context of April 1 that it must be a joke, i.e., implausible but not impossible ...
So, e.g., "Magnus Carlsen has retired from chess" is wildly implausible. But not impossible. In the context of April 1, it becomes very clear it must be a joke.
2. The joke must not be nasty and hurt the victim
It's also interesting to note how many different traditions there are. E.g., in Belgium it was customary to request something that was plainly impossible, such as a drinking bowl for fish, or the G-clef (clef and key is the same word in Dutch).
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28 Mar
I am teaching on the numinous and religious experience tomorrow--so here is a brief thread on Galdalf and Saruman, and how they instantiate very different kinds of magic, which correspond to different ways of understanding magic and the supernatural 1/
Brandon Sanderson makes a distinction between two kinds of magic in fantasy: soft and hard magic systems.
Hard magic: follows rules (a bit like alternate-world rules of physics)
Soft magic: does not follow rules, preserves our sense of wonder 2/…
Sanderson argues that Tolkien uses different kinds of magic, from hard to soft. E.g., the rings are quite hard magic--they make you invisible, they make you powerful, and they slowly turn you into Gollum.
Similarly, rules apply for the palantiri
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