Apropos of nothing, I find myself in need of an academic literary agent. I got it in my head that Penguin Classics should include some 15th and 16th century English texts in their backlist (Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes, or the Great Chronicle of London, for example) but I am tightly locked out in the cold because they do not take ‘unsolicited’ proposals which means they do take unsolicited proposals, just not from the unwashed public. One must convince additional intermediaries to take on your project and hand it over to the relevant people in the corporation. I suspect the best strategy here is to find someone I feel comfortable approaching, and who has successfully published in the series, and see if they will pass me on to their agent. I don’t, at the moment, know anyone who fits that profile.
Not that I actually need more work at the moment, but this is an idea that could go somewhere and it’s best to start early, than not at all.
Writing and publishing academic work is a fairly solitary experience and this goes for both pre- and post-publication. While I may have started writing for publication as far back as 2005 I rarely receive unsolicited correspondence from that work. I think I have had a grand total of 3, legitimate, unsolicited enquiries from readers. The first was a simple request for a copy of an article not otherwise available. The second, came recently, from a small-scale, but entirely legitimate, publisher interested in a conference paper I gave (which the publisher thought would fit nicely in an academic monograph series he is planning. Sadly, I had to disappoint them). The last, which arrived yesterday, came from just about the last place I would have expected.
PBS was silent for a few days while Z and I visited some of my dispersed family before my trip overseas. Although I plan to write regularly each day until the actual move, most of that writing will stay in draft form. Writing needs to be a habit if any progress is expected but posting blog entries isn’t an essential step in the process.
I did get some nice books this week, so I will pick the easy route and write about that.
New academics in history don’t get much advice on publishing. I have the better part of one shelf packed with guides to academic publishing but most of them are aimed at the social sciences, general non-fiction, or academic writing treated as a single genre.1 Some of these are good, some are very good, but outside of guides for student research, I have yet to find a guide to publication aimed directly at historians, until today. And the best part, it’s free.
Back in May I answered a call for papers (cfp). I sent in a abstract based on the conference paper I delivered at K-zoo. One of the editors behind the cfp convened my session so he was able to judge my submission on more than a 150 word synopsis. Back in June I got word that my proposal was accepted and a few days ago I got an initial style-guide for submissions with May 2013 deadline for finished drafts. And, because I’m like that, I looked up the other contributors based on the cc addresses. It’s an impressive list.
I accept that journal articles are influenced by the same aerodynamic forces that make boomerangs return to the thrower, but one never wants to see the paper return without bringing something else with it. Much of the past week was devoted to revising a paper to fit a different house style and it took up rather more time than I should have allowed. I did get a really good re-write in, which makes it a better paper, but it’s no closer to publication than it was back in April. Having climbed out of the pit of Chicago style, I can return to some productive writing. Instead of dwelling on that frustration, I will revisit the issue of Print-on-Demand publishing (POD) and its unexpected ills.
Academia.edu is a sort of facebook-for-scholars, but without the game invitations and image macros. The site allows academics to post their credentials, articles, research interests, CVs, and other details in a forum that is far more accessible and amenable to social networking than the institutional pages that some academics get. Most graduate students and independent researchers have no other way of making their presence known on-line outside of these sorts of forums. Some people on the site post questions to the general readership and one of these got me to thinking. That was a while ago, and this entry took rather longer than planned. This is aesthetically appropriate considering the nature of the original question.
Not the most productive 30 days on record. I remind myself that my goals are often multi-tier, in that there are essential and aspirational goals each month. Total success isn’t actually part of the plan.