Posted by Meredith Norwich, Ashgate’s Commissioning Editor for Art and Visual Culture
This is the advice from Ashgate which was presented at the “How to get published” session at the AAH 2011 meeting, held at the University of Warwick (31 March to 2 April). The session was aimed primarily at independent members and discussed what you need to do to get your book published.
Publishing “Dos” and “Don’ts”
Do be aware of timing, if there are any anniversaries or exhibitions which you’d like your book’s publication to coincide with; begin the process at least three years in advance if possible.
If you’ll be revising your thesis, bear in mind that this can take one to five years!
Do know your press(es). Find out from reliable sources (e.g., colleagues who have published extensively or who are involved in academic societies in your field) how the press is viewed by those “in the know.”
Do follow, to the letter, the proposal submission guidelines listed on the website of your chosen press(es). Include all of the information requested.
Do proofread your prospectus or, even better, have it proofread by someone you trust before you send it.
Do send your proposal to more than one press at a time if you like, BUT state up front that you are doing so in your cover letter: For example, “Because this is my first book, I am contacting several publishers to assess the degree of interest in my project.”
If your project has its basis in any part of your thesis, indicate whether you have already engaged in extensive revisions or if you have specific plans for doing so.
Do take your time in responding formally to a reader report, and respond carefully. Be respectful.
Throughout the entire book publishing process, keep track of all correspondence, including important e-mails.
Do ask questions! The more information you have about the process of publishing, the smoother and more pleasant the evaluation and publication of your book will be for all concerned—and there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be a positive experience.
Do not indicate the extent of your manuscript in pages if the submission guidelines ask for the extent in words.
Do not send large e-mail attachments without having first been invited to do so. Your e-mail program may be robust enough to send large files without difficulty, but the size of your message may still cause problems for the intended recipient.
Do not nag the editor for a response to your proposal. It is not unreasonable to send a brief e-mail, maybe 2-3 weeks after submitting, asking for confirmation that the material has been safely received. Then, wait patiently and/or try your luck elsewhere.
Do not send either an unrevised thesis chapter or a published article as a “sample chapter.”
Do not assume that if an image is available on online, whether on Wikipedia or elsewhere, it is in the public domain. You must determine if the image is under copyright; if it is, it’s likely you are responsible for paying the permission fees and securing reproduction-quality artwork from the source.
Do not quote freely from a recent edition of a work that is out of copyright on the assumption that the publication date of the original work puts into the public domain the material contained in the edition. Either quote directly from the original work or obtain permission from the publisher of the modern edition to use any material that exceeds “fair use.”
Do not assume that someone else’s publishing experience, especially with another press but even with the same press with a different acquisitions editor, gives you an accurate picture of how your own experience will go.
Do not suppose that organizing an essay collection will be easier than writing a full-length study yourself!
Getting it Published, 2nd Edition: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books, by William Germano. University of Chicago Press, 2008.
From Dissertation to Book, by William Germano. University of Chicago Press, 2005.
Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property, by Susan M. Bielstein. University of Chicago Press, 2006. (NB: not just for art historians!)
There are other useful guides out there, but I have read these and can endorse them.
Related post: How to get you academic book published