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.

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Slush Pile Bingo!

The end of summer: new froshmenki show up for orientation, grad students pose as older siblings to mooch free food, and professors send us proposals for the books they’ve spent all summer working on.  Oh, and the whole acquisitions department comes back from vacation at the same time.  Suddenly, the term “slush pile” is depressingly literal.  Why suffer when you sift through endless manuscripts?  Grab an intern and a bingo card and start sifting through those stacks!

Each row of five—horizontally, vertically, or diagonally—earns you a coping mechanism at the local tavern courtesy of the marketing department.*

*Marketing people, don’t worry, your version is coming.  Acquisitions people, start saving your beer money now.

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

The Life Cycle of an *Academic* Book

A few months ago, Publishing Trendsetter did a series on the life cycle of a book.  Not surprisingly, it was focused on trade—since, well, that’s where “everyone” wants to go.  The thing is, academic publishing doesn’t always work like trade does.  Seeing as Ye Olde Humble Blogge deals with academic publishing, and Ye Olde Humble Authorre works in it, let’s fix that imbalance. Continue reading

Your Dissertation Isn’t a Book—But It Can Be

Credit where credit is due: much of this is based of a spiel from Bigbossman to grad students attracted by the promise of free food and cheap books.  By the way, locusts descending on a ripe field have nothing on a bunch of grad students who have heard that there are $3 books.  Also, a lot of it I may have discussed already; however, there were a few new things, and some points of discussion worth, well, discussing.

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Epublishing Ain’t Free

Time to crush the hopes and dreams of many a publishing pundit: just because it’s in an electronic format doesn’t mean it’s cheap to produce—or that you can/should skip the publisher and go straight to dissemination.  This one will probably hack off half my twitter feed—it aims straight at the core of at least a few of the assumptions behind open access publishing—but the assumption that publishing houses do nothing but slap someone’s text on paper is wronger than a wrong thing that’s wrong.

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Why the Intern Rejected Your Book

Rule 1 of the acquisitions department: the publishing house is a business.
Rule 2: rejecting book proposals is easy; accepting them is hard.

It may seem strange to think that some twerp intern with only an MA (if that!) has the power to reject manuscripts from emeritus professors, but more than one submission has found itself in The Slammer (AKA “The Rattling File of Death,” AAKA “the non-invited submission file”) on an intern’s advice.  Sure, I spent over three years in grad school learning the minutia of my field, but really—they’re trusting me with Someone’s Life Work, the Brilliant Book What Will Change the World?

Yup.

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A Question (or two) for Literary Agents

First, who seriously hires a literary agent for an academic book?  Most academic book deals, at least at our little press, come out of glad-handing and conference drinking sessions; Bossman knows pretty much everyone who submits a book to us, having been on the philosophy and religion circuit for years.  Forget the agent fees and just buy a ticket to ACPA or AAR and a few drinks for the folks manning the book booths.

Second, the editor and intern are both academics.  We both read academic books.  You know, dry, dusty, and boring tomes.  Even the best are usually dense, of interest to only a few nerds who find questions of (law as a kind of rule-guided social behavior/interpretive jurisprudence/modality in medieval logic and metaphysics/the possibility of unicorns existing) so amazingly fascinating that they’ll shell out a nice sum of money for a copy of their own.  Thus, is describing the book you’re representing as “new and exciting” really a good idea?

Bossman and I got a few laughs out of the inquiry.  Hey, if bad presentation’s the worst thing about that inquiry . . .