Category Archives: Author advice

How to Work with a Scholarly Press – At a Conference, Reprise

Originally posted in March 2013 by Whitney Feininger; revised and reposted by Erika Gaffney

In the run-up to a bloc of important annual conferences of academic organizations, we thought it would be helpful to author-scholars for us to reprise an earlier post, with advice on the ins and outs of interacting with publishing representatives as scholarly meetings.

Ashgate attends a number of academic conferences per year. You can see the list of attended conferences and which Ashgate staff member will be attending here. At each conference we’ll have a number of our new books in subject area on display and representatives from our marketing and commissioning staffing the booth.

Please be aware that conferences can get quite busy for an acquisitions editor, and the editor may not be available for “drop by” meetings on site.  If you have a proposal for a book that you wish to discuss with an Ashgate editor, your best bet is to make an appointment with the commissioning editor in advance of the meeting.  A list of names and email addresses for Ashgate’s acquisitions staff can be found here: http://www.ashgate.com/contact

Dos and Don’ts

  • If possible, locate the booth ahead of time. Our booth number and location should be printed in the conference materials.
  • Have your “elevator pitch” – a brief description of your book project – ready
  • Don’t give your commissioning editor a lot of documents.  Do give the commissioning editor one of your business cards and make sure to take one of the editor’s.
  • If you can miss a session, try to meet with the editor then. Coffee breaks tend to be a very busy time at the book exhibit. Please understand that the editor will probably need to stay at or near the booth, especially when they are the only press representative staffing the booth.
  • Do follow up with your commissioning editor, via email, with your proposal documents or just to say hello. If a lot of time passes between the conference and submitting your proposal, mention that you spoke at the conference.
  • Do stop by and greet the staff. If a commissioning editor is not attending a conference, take a moment speak with the marketing staff. They can answer questions about Ashgate and can put you in touch with the proper commissioning editor.  And make sure to take a look at the newest books in your field!

How to Work with a Scholarly Press – At a Conference

Posted by Whitney Feininger, Assistant Editor

Ashgate attends a number of academic conferences per year. You can see the list of attended conferences and which Ashgate staff member will be attending here. At each conference we’ll have a number of our new books in subject area on display and representatives from our marketing and commissioning staffing the booth.

If you’d like to discuss a proposal or publishing with Ashgate, see if the commissioning editor is attending and send an email to set up an appointment with them. While you can try dropping by the press display onsite in case an editor is available to speak to you, your best bet is to set an appointment in advance.  The editor will try to find a quiet spot but you may have to discuss your project at the booth. Conferences are busy!

Dos and Don’ts

  • If possible, locate the booth ahead of time. Our booth number and location should be printed in the conference materials.
  • Have your “elevator pitch” – a brief description of your book project – ready
  • Don’t give your commissioning editor a lot of documents.  Do give the commissioning editor one of your business cards and make sure to take one of the editor’s.
  • If you can miss a session, try to meet with the editor then. Coffee breaks tend to be a very busy time at the book exhibit. Please understand that the editor will probably need to stay at or near the booth, especially when they are the only press representative staffing the booth.
  • Do follow up with your commissioning editor, via email, with your proposal documents or just to say hello. If a lot of time passes between the conference and submitting your proposal, mention that you spoke at the conference.
  • Do stop by and greet the staff. If a commissioning editor is not attending a conference, take a moment speak with the marketing coordinators. They can answer questions about Ashgate and can put you in touch with the proper commissioning editor.  And make sure to take a look at the newest books in your field!

How to Work with a Scholarly Press – Submitting the Final Manuscript

Posted by Whitney Feininger, Assistant Editor, Literary Studies

Submitting the final manuscript is one of the most exciting steps in the publishing process! This is the point where your commissioning editor will double-check your text, artwork, and permissions and make sure everything is organized and suitable for publication.  Unfortunately we can’t forward the manuscript on to our desk editorial department until everything has been submitted.  Here are some tips and tricks from Ashgate’s commissioning editors for a smooth process.

  • Read through the author guidelines you received with your contract. All of the instructions for submitting your manuscript are in the guidelines. If you need another copy, .pdfs of the author guidelines are available on the website or contact your commissioning editor.
  • Do not send the manuscript as one large Word file.  Using the table of contents as a guide, separate the manuscript out into individual chapters and label them individually. We also need a separate document for the title page, acknowledgments, lists of illustrations, part titles pages.
  • Submit all of the materials (manuscript, including Acknowledgements and Bibliography; permissions; and artwork, including for the cover) at one time – and keep a copy of everything!
  • For a book with internal images, ensure that all digital files you supply for illustrations are high resolution.  For half tones, the resolution needs to be at least 300 dpi; for line art, 1200 dpi.  Make sure to include a List of Illustrations in the front matter, and to send artwork for each image to be included in the book.
  • Label all of the figures – artwork, tables, graphs, correctly. These instructions are in the author guidelines.
  • Indicate where the figures should go in the text and specify whether they should be reproduced in landscape or portrait mode.
  • Permissions are a very important feature of your delivery; we cannot begin the production process for your book without a complete set of these documents. Please make sure they are all in order and that, unless otherwise agreed with your editor (for example, for a heavily illustrated book which may not be issued in electronic format) that they cover both print and e-book editions.
  • Label the permissions with their corresponding figure.  Again, be sure to keep a complete set of permissions for your own records.
  • Submit your contributor forms and make sure you’ve provided all of the contributors’ addresses – so that we can ensure that every contributor gets a copy of the published book.
  • Include a copy of the filled-out Typescript Delivery Form included in your author guidelines.
  •  Finally, if there is anything that is not clear to you, ask your commissioning editor.

This is the third post in our occasional series: “How to Work with a Scholarly Press”

How to Work with a Scholarly Press: What’s in a Word Count?

How to work with a scholarly press:  What’s in a word count?

by Erika Gaffney, Publishing Manager

Why do publishing houses ask prospective authors to estimate the extent of a book manuscript in words rather than pages?  A word count—and it must be emphasized, this should include notes and bibliography, as well as the main text—gives the publisher the best indication of the length of the eventual book in typeset pages.  This in turn allows a press to gauge with reasonable accuracy how much investment the book will require, and therefore to assess whether the project is likely to be economically viable.

A page estimate is much less helpful in this regard.  Given the dizzying array of computer fonts available—as well as different options in terms of font size, margins and line spacing—the number of words contained on a page can vary dramatically from author to author.

So the prospective author who hopes to secure a contract, or the contracted author who has committed to meet the terms of that contract (which usually includes a minimum and/or maximum extent, stated in words), must be conscious of the word count of their manuscript.

But what is the fastest way for an author to obtain an accurate word count?  Word processing programs include a tool that makes it easy!  Here, for authors using Microsoft Word (2003 or 2010), are instructions on conducting a word count:

For Microsoft 2003:

–         Open your Word document prior to conducting the word count*

–         On the menu at top of the screen, click on “tools”

–         From the “tools” drop down menu, select “word count”

–         In the bottom left of the dialogue box, make sure to check the “include footnotes and endnotes” option

–         The word count is displayed in the second line of the dialogue box

For Microsoft 2010:

–     Open your Word document prior to conducting the word count

–     At the bottom of the page is a gray tool bar. In the bottom left corner is an indication of how many pages are in the document; right next to that is an indication of the number of words in the document

–     the number of words given at the bottom may or may not include notes; to doublecheck, click your mouse on top of the word count

–     clicking on that word count brings up a dialogue box; look at the bottom of that box to ensure that the box labelled “Includes text boxes, footnotes and end notes” is checked; if it isn’t, check it

–     Once you’ve ascertained the box is checked, the word count displayed in the second line of the dialogue box is the actual word count, including notes

Whether one is a prospective or contracted author, knowing the importance of the word count—as well as how to conduct one—is a tremendous advantage in working with a scholarly press.  Happy counting!

This is the second post in our occasional series: “How to Work with a Scholarly Press”

How to Work with a Scholarly Press: Submitting a Proposal

How to Work with a Scholarly Press: Submitting a Proposal

Posted by Whitney Feininger, Assistant Editor, Literary Studies

Think of a proposal as a formal introduction of you and your scholarly work to Ashgate.

Most proposals are delivered to us by email and are evaluated by the relevant commissioning editor. After reviewing it, the commissioning editor will make a decision about whether or not your project is suitable for Ashgate and about sending out materials for review.  Our proposal guidelines and commissioning editors’ email addresses are listed on our website.

As commissioning editors receive quite a bit of correspondence from authors, the more well-organized and thorough a proposal you submit, the more attention and serious consideration it is likely to receive.  Here are some qualities of a good proposal, contributed by our commissioning staff, to help you craft the best possible submission.

-If you are submitting your proposal by email, it is a good idea to put your name, the book’s title, and ‘proposal’ in the subject line. This will help your proposal stand out from the myriad of emails commissioning editors receive.

-Include a table of contents as well as a contents list that includes a short abstract of each chapter.

-Submit the proposal as a Word document and not as a .pdf.  Commissioning editors need to transfer information from the proposal into our internal database and this is difficult when working with a .pdf.

-Include a copy of your CV and full contact details (email, mailing address, and phone #).

-If you are proposing an edited collection, provide contributor biographies.

-Don’t forget the nuts and bolts:  the proposed number of illustrations or tables and the estimated word count.

-Provide a brief abstract or “elevator pitch” for your book – be able to convey what your book is about, its originality, and its place within existing literature in well under 500 words.

This is the first post in a new occasional series on our blog: “How to Work with a Scholarly Press”

These posts will feature different aspects of the publishing process and advice from our commissioning, desk editorial, and marketing staff.  Our hope is to educate authors about practical issues on an every day basis as well as empower authors to deliver a better and more complete manuscript and book proposal and ensure an effective and smooth process.

How to Work with a Scholarly Press – new blog series

We are happy to announce a new occasional feature on our blog:

“How to Work with a Scholarly Press”

These entries will feature different aspects of the publishing process and advice from our commissioning, desk editorial, and marketing staff.  Our hope is to educate authors about practical issues on an every day basis as well as empower authors to deliver a better and more complete manuscript and book proposal and ensure an effective and smooth process.

The first post in the new series will be on how to submit a book proposal, and will be published on Monday 10th.

If there are any particular topics that you would like us to cover, please let us know!

Advice from the ‘How to get published’ session at the AAH meeting 2011

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 …

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…

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!

Useful resources:

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