On Reading All of Augustine

“The man who claims to have read all of Augustine is a liar”

And, of course, Isidore of Seville is pretty close to right. I haven’t touched the Ennarations on the Psalms, nor about half the other sermons, nor a couple other minor works, but 30-odd other volumes? Not right short, I undertake! Now that I’m all but done with this super-secret press project I’ve been working on for a year and a half now (because of course there won’t be any revisions at all…), it’s time for a few observations:

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Underrated Philosophers IV: John Duns Scotus

General Note: there will eventually be something other than this series again. I might even get back to talking about publishing, for those who like that—possibly even the next post! Just not yet.

17542vScotus, like Machiavelli, is another philosopher who might get certain people going after me with pikes for calling him “underrated.” After all, he’s probably the second most studied Scholastic philosopher after Aquinas, so how underrated or unappreciated  can he be?

Well, Christopher Marlowe is the second most namedropped Elizabethan playright in high school English classes, yet I’d never read Edward II until after I’d specifically told my English tutor I wanted to read no Shakespeare at all in my Elizabethan drama tutorials. Just because people mention him as the also ran and occasionally make their students read the (very short) Doctor Faustus doesn’t mean he actually gets real attention. He’s still “not Shakespeare,” rather than ever becoming “Christopher Marlowe.”

Similarly, Scotus, along with Bonaventure, Ockham, and every other Scholastic, remains “not Aquinas.” Fat Tommy remains the default (and usually right) opinion, with everyone else judged correct by how much they agree with the Angelicus. Never mind that some of his positions were entirely unique (meaning everybody else ever must be wrong), some were condemned, and some get used as “it’s not a straw man if you can cite it!” canon fodder by every later author. Continue reading

Copyright Law for Philosophers

Or “Please, for the love of God, don’t get us sued; their legal department is bigger than our press.”
Intellectual property law is a gnarly topic, one that, seeing as I’m not a lawyer, I shouldn’t even be playing with—but, since keeping the Press from getting sued is part of my job, I do anyway.  Figuring out who owns how much of what where and for how long is about the greatest international cluster@#$€ ever, and, if you screw it up, you get to settle it in a neutral country that’s a whole lot closer to the foreign publisher you were supposed to get English language rights from, but only got the US rights, so when your book got sold in Canada via a Michigan-based wholesaler . . . Continue reading

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 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.

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.

Reviewing Reviewers

I’m going to grab my fiddle while people are setting fires and ignore the whole Finch Report Open Access bomb that’s blowing up right now.*  Suffice it to say, I need to finish reading all of it (I don’t do journals right now, so only about thirty pages are of more than academic interest to bookies like me) before I act like I have something intelligent and novel to say about it—but, worry not, I will talk about it.**

Instead, let’s talk about something that’s tangential to the whole Finch Report/Open Access debate: the institution of peer review.  Yes, a lot of people aren’t too keen on it (“why are we paying for this, again?”), but for those of us who publish things, it’s important.  Sure, it’s the gold standard, sure, it’s an assurance of quality—but for us, if it doesn’t pass peer review, we don’t have to waste good money publishing it. Continue reading

I Don’t Believe It!

Wouldn’t you know it, but university presses kinda follow the university calendar that our authors are on.  Thus, things have been just a bit slow around the ol’ slush mill, what with our authors writing and revising and all during the break—which means a lack of inspiring incidents for blog fodder.

Not that I’ve been doing nothing, mind you—I’ve been peddling books at conferences, chasing down copyright information at the Library of Congress, and reading through some Very Exciting Upcoming Manuscripts, just like always—but without the usual input from Grad Student Ex Colleagues and Difficult/Dream reviewers . . . well, if things slow down around here, it’s summer.

Don’t worry, I’m still here.  If anything does pop up (in fact, reviewing that last paragraph, something may have . . .), well, you know where to find me.

Oh, and if anyone wants to send us a manuscript . . .