Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Reviewer

From a recently discovered draft of Prof. Jonathan Edwards’ (D.Div, Harvard) exhortation to junior profs revising their dissertations at the Collegiate School in New Haven, CT in early 1741. Some scholars are of the opinion that Prof. Edwards later revised the speech for presentation to a non-academic audience in the same state, but, given the probability of any academic being able to write a book that gained traction among the mythical “educated public,” this seems extremely doubtful.

…This that you have heard is the case for every one of you that is without tenure. That world of misery, that land of eternal visiting lectureships, is extended abroad under you. There is the visible flames of the wrath of an angry Reviewer; there is the mouth of Adjunct Hell laid open; and you have no publications to stand upon, nor good reviews to take hold of; there is nothing between you and this Hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of the Dean that holds you up. Continue reading


An Education for Academic Writers, Part II: Money vs. Honor

Academic books are expensive. Everybody knows this. I’ve often joked that I’m the reason your textbooks cost so much. People may laugh, but they also believe it.

It’s not true, of course. Continue reading

An Education for Academic Writers, Part I

Every writer has their imaginary audience, even if their real one is (like most of us) just friends, people linking to pictures you’re hosting, and parents who wouldn’t actually be interested in what you’re writing about if anyone else wrote it.* Mine is usually my grad school self and his colleagues—people who discuss insane things over wine and coffee after lectures, who have absolutely no clue about why people aren’t interested in what we study, and who labor under more than a few delusions about how this whole “publish or perish” thing works. Continue reading

The Marketing Department Strikes Back: Post-Approval Bingo!

Well, the marketing and managing editor’s revenge is here: all the little things that make a day “special.”  Before anyone asks, no, neither of these bingo cards are based on specific incidents or people (although a few more egregious examples do stick out)—not much point in waiting for something unique to happen again.

Plus, I’m pretty sure the really interesting incidents are covered under the publisher’s code of omertà.

Same rules as the last one apply, only now it’s the acquisitions department’s turn to pay—their just reward for inviting all these unique and highly valued people to publish with us.

Book Design and Philosophy

Last week, our press kinda cleaned up at the Washington Book Publishers’ annual design and effectiveness awards.  Three of our books won prizes,* two of which were first place awards.  Seeing as we compete in the most competitive category here in DC,** that’s no small feat.

Kudos to our people.  They do good schtuff.

We’ve already dealt with good/bad/ugly covers, but what makes the body and text of a philosophy book well-designed—or, more to the point, what are the unique challenges that philosophy books pose to designers, and what are the best ways to address them? Continue reading

Your Book Will Not Sell

Another Great Authorial Self-Delusion popped: if you’re publishing with an academic press, don’t expect to get rich from it.  Heck, count yourself lucky if your book doesn’t get remaindered.

Yes, fine, you’ve seen the numbers, you get it, your contract offers you royalties of 5-10% on every sale—but academic books are expensive, right?  That money has to add up!
Continue reading