The Dungeon Master’s Guide to Manuscript Evaluation

Yes, it’s time to break out your 2d4 and make profession checks (academic author), because we’re going to play the geekiest RPG ever—Publish or Perish.  It’s finally time to divulge the secret formula we use to evaluate your manuscript.

Well, okay.  It’s only secret because we’ve never thought to publish it in three core rulebooks (plus innumerable supplements) with lovingly rendered pictures of elves in chainmail bikinis.  That’s all quite beside the point though, amirite? Continue reading


Even More Things I Learned at the Press!

—All the laws of physics can be explained by appeal to the 12 signs of the Zodiac
Bigbossman’s got a PhD in physics.  It sure surprised him to find this out

—When Christ returns to Earth, he’ll be a member of the College of Cardinals
Not the Pope, though.  Also, Lutherans beware.

—Not even Jesus can get a book published at our press
So don’t feel too bad that your (actually pretty good) dissertation got rejected.

—Some of our authors really could sell cookbooks based off their name alone
However, when the first recipe is for nightshade casserole with arsenic sauce . . .

—Some people don’t read about our press, and send us original poetry
We have never published original poetry.  Ever.

—If you submit really and truly awful poetry to the Press, it will get passed around.
The thought of doing a YouTube video of the Press staff reading it was floated.  10k hits, minimum

—Rejection letters are more fun to write as street poetry/Urban Folk.
I don’t think we actually used it, but here goes:

The (Happiness) Press would like to thank you for the time
And all the work you did in bustin’ out yo’ rhyme

But we read what you sent us, and I simply gotta say
That we just can’t use your masterpiece this day

So good luck in the future, and don’t let us get you down
Since we’re not the only ones who publish books around.

Peace out,
The Press

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

Adventures with Bossmen

Bossman and I are discussing the likely print run specs for an upcoming book.  Bigbossman walks in.

BBM: Just the people I needed to see.  I need to know who from Tolkien who sounded especially medieval, and isn’t Gandalf?*

BM: Well, there is Aragorn, but everyone kinda talks that way—but he does more than anyone else.

Me: Hmmm . . . are we counting the Silmarilion, Books of Lost Tales, and Lays of Beleriand?  There is Turin Turambar, or Beren—oh, and if we’re talking places, can’t forget Osgiliath or Gondolin. . .

(Discussion ensues between Bossman and me, with occasional references to Bossman’s limited edition map of the lands in The Hobbit)

BM: Well, that would be to the southeast of that map.  I should have looked this up earlier—I actually made some reference to Theodin with someone earlier, but forgot his name.

BBM: You ever been in Big Bang Theory?

Good to know my geek cred’s still intact.

*Don’t ask me why.

Why the Intern Liked Your Book

Okay, enough with the snark, it’s been done already.  I’m pretty sure a goodly number of the people who read this and aren’t looking for insightful commentary on Yves Klein’s monochromes (which accounts for a shocking amount of the traffic ’round these here parts) will have to publish academic books at some part of their tenured lives.  What follows is a short list of things, from my standpoint as The First Person Who Reads Your Proposal, that you might want to know. Continue reading

More Things I Learned at the Press:

Thanks to my internship, I learned:

—The Gregorian Calendar, not carbon dioxide, is responsible for global warming.
I can’t make this stuff up.

—The most accurate calendar is the 360-day Prophetic calendar, based on the Bible.
Note: the Bible never mentions 360-day calendars.  Ever.

—People who are 30 or 40 years old shouldn’t be talking to our kids.
You know, like their parents.

—Drugs, entertainment, and athletics are the three things destroying the youth of America.
Obesity and boredom are just fine, though.

—The Press will almost let you get away with using the French revolutionary date on rejection letters.
I still say 30 Pluviôse CCXX would be the second most awesome date I’ve ever seen on a letter.

—The Bigbossman gets much stranger inquiries than Bossman does.
I think it’s because Bossman only sees stuff from people smart enough to know what “Acquisitions Editor” means.

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.

Continue reading

A Guide to Philosophical Book Covers, Abridged

Lots of people worth reading have posted about what book covers mean for our society, its views on race, and what exactly happens when a cover gets picked to sell books, forget what the book itself says.  Yes, it’s important stuff—really now, if the author says the main character isn’t white but you put a Nordic-looking blonde on the cover, summin’ ain’t right—but I like to lurk in the dark underworld of academic humanities publishing.  Thus, how to judge books by their covers, or make your Dusty Tome look like something worth reading.

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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 . . .