Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

So far along our road trip you’ve read Germano, got your solo writing cape on, have a belief in what you’re doing, know for sure why your work needs to be published, and had another piece of pie. Okay, time to check the GPS (online resources) and think about where we are headed by considering all the publishers ever known. It’s Bucket List Time, folks. That’s right, you need to look at all the possibilities so you don’t miss the right possibility. Think big! Now ask yourself some questions. Pretend you are doing a Buzzfeed quiz.

 

1) Readership: who would be interested in reading this work?

2) Academic or popular or both: is the work framed for a more educational/institutional setting or for popular culture? Does it serve both sectors?

3) What is the main discipline? Women’s Studies, Political Science, French Studies, Aboriginal Studies, Shakespeare Studies, Communication, Canadian Art History, Social Sciences, Anthropology, Theatre, Psychology, Creative Writing, Religious Studies, Medicine, Art Education, Law, Fine Arts, American Literature, East Asian Literature, etc.

  • Note: this is tricky especially if you are an interdisciplinary scholar because more than likely you will be able to select 18 possible disciplines. In this case, narrow it down to 3.

4) What is the main theme within the discipline? Write it down in one sentence, for instance, “The main theme that my book follows in the discipline of Political Science is  …”

5) What are two secondary themes? One sentence!!!

6) Which country is the work grounded in? United States, South America, Canada, Indonesia, Finland, Africa, etc. Detail the specific region if possible.

  • Even if your work has a global trajectory, it is more than likely your research is based somewhere (or a few somewheres). Identify these spaces.

7) Name 5 published works that you could imagine your book appearing next to on a bookshelf. Identify the publishers.

  • Note: This is a great opportunity to take a few minutes to close your eyes and picture your book’s cover. Do it! It’s fun.

8) Name 3 publishers that you have already considered, probably around 2 a.m. while you were highly caffeinated and formatting your dissertation’s bibliography.

9) Select one of the above. The dream publisher. What is it about this publisher that makes you believe that it is the right house for your work?

10) In one sentence, write why your work is suited for the above publisher. * Note: I’m a big fan of “get it down in one sentence.”  The elevator pitch. Think Mad Men. Concision is a struggle with constraint. But a necessary one. I’ll talk about this more a bit later.

11) Talk to your advisors. Ask the only other people in the world who have read your work for their suggestions. They are also published, right? They may suggest publishers you have not considered.

Now that you have gone from big picture to a more narrowed field, take the time to examine all the possibilities while reflecting on your answers to the above questions. To follow are 2 online resources for your search. It is not the be all end all list, but it will get you started:

Association of Canadian University Presses

http://www.acup.ca/

International Academic Press

https://services.exeter.ac.uk/bfa/az.htm

When you have finished your research, do the following:

  • Write down 5 publishing houses that you think would be well suited for your work.
  • Short list 3 out of the 5.
  • Return to the 3 publication sites and really consider “the one.” Write down the name of the one publishing house.

Now you are ready to begin to draft your proposal.

Next stop: The Million Dollar Question: How many proposals should I send out?

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As with all road trips the pit stop is always a coveted break (for multiple reasons). After a few hours of driving (while you read Germano’s book!), there is nothing better than a piece of cherry pie and a cup of coffee while we talk about how to write a proposal to get your book published. By the way, Special Agent Dale Cooper is my spirit animal and clearly I enjoy metaphors (this might get out of hand, along with my use of parenthesis). You’ve been warned.

So the first piece of the pie is easy:

1) Belief.

You have to believe in what makes your book important (Full Stop). If you don’t believe in it, no one else will particularly the editor who is the gatekeeper of the publishing house. And guess what? Your belief will make writing your proposal easier because once you know for sure that what you’ve basically opened your veins to research and write for the past six years needs to be read, your proposal writing becomes a piece of cake (or pie, in this case). Belief also comes in handy as you begin to think about everything that your proposal will entail:

a) title (and this will change from your dissertation)
* sidebar: I spent 2 days staring off into space undertaking this task
b) length of book and a very brief description about your proposal content including, believe it or not, font size used
c) table of contents
d) abstract
e) chapter description
f) description of illustrations (of course, if used)
g) sources
h) readership
i) your manuscript revision plan

All of the above (which is fairly standard, but will change here and there for each publisher) is rooted in your belief and will ultimately enable you to select the publisher who will best represent your work.

Now, it’s never a good thing to eat an entire pie at one sitting. I’ve done it. I have no shame — it was delicious. Still, for this road trip we are going to take our time. We are going to take this pie and coffee take-away-style and enjoy it along the way.

Before we head out, I will add that I might be preaching to the converted. I am sure there are those of you who are on task with your belief, and very eager to get going. That’s great! However, I will just say: DO NOT SEND OUT YOUR FULL UNEDITED DISSERTATION OR EVEN YOUR REVISED MANUSCRIPT UNSOLICITED. Pull on the reins here, and don’t do it. You might be either full of confidence or just plain super tired, either way, cease and desist. But we will talk about this on the way. Just don’t do it. Trust me on this one.

In the meantime, really think about why the work needs to be published.
Write it down in one sentence.
That’s right, one sentence.
You can use a semi colon.

Next up: Selecting a publisher

I’m taking a slight but important detour before we head out to the proposal. It’s the breakup. Now this might sound radical and some may get off of the motorcycle (yes, it’s that kind of road trip) upon hearing this advice but it is a critical change that will strengthen and transform you and your writing. You need to break up with the institution. And yes, breaking up is hard to do! Yet, this is one of those break ups that will work out to be best for everyone. If you are lucky and you had a healthy relationship with your advisor, that person will always be your BFF and let’s face it they will always be there to advise you as you continue on your academic journey, but when it comes to writing your book, things have to change. You have to stop writing for the institution and for your committee.  You need to start writing not only for a wider audience, and other editors, but you need to rediscover (or perhaps even discover) your own voice. Your voice. It’s scary, I know. Years of academics have taught you not to trust your own voice. You could only trust other, more qualified, voices. This was a very important part of your learning curve because you were not ready yet. However, over the past maybe 5 or 6 years (or more) your research, your writing, your voice have been constrained by the protocols and restrictions of an academic discourse and somewhere along the line your voice was lost. You learned not to trust your own voice. As you begin the process of revising your dissertation to a book it is in many ways like an archeological dig of recovering your self in your work and you need to do that on your own. Remember that thing you did in front of a committee called a defence? Well, crossing that finish line gave you the license to use your own voice. You know your work better than anyone else. Be brave in it. Go back to the moment, the exact moment if possible, when that spark ignited the reason why you took your journey of discovery in the first place. Why is this work important? Why is this work important to me? In that spark, in that very moment, is your voice. It’s been waiting for you. Find it, grab hold of it, and more than anything, trust it. Then you are ready to begin. So cut the umbilical cord. Your advisor, your committee, and academic community have helped you to be ready for this moment. It’s time to strike out on your own. Risk writing your own voice in your own way. Shift your mind as you begin to reread and revise your work. Open it up and discard the “language” that blocked the way you say what needs to be said. Be fearless. It’s transformation time. The work ahead is indeed a road trip and you have a story to tell.

We are all waiting to hear you tell it!

Next up: The Proposal (for real)