Long time no write, everyone! Sorry about this long sabbatical on my part — it’s been a wild autumn what with my wedding coming up, my graduate classes keeping me busy, getting promoted at my office, and dealing with all manner of Hurricane Sandy related issues.
At any rate, for those of you who don’t know or who have forgotten, I have my very first book coming out next fall/late summer through McFarland Publishing, working title: Howling, that provides a new critical reading of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” through a trickster lens.
The world of publishing and especially of academic publishing has always been of great interest to me and now that I’m getting to experience the process on a personal level, I’m working to document each new phase and discovery here.
Since I last wrote you, I have not only received my peer review notes back from McFarland but I have incorporated them into the final text, sent the manuscript to my editors, begun the larger marketing process, and even learned of the official title for my book! So much!
First things first, the official title of my book?
The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading
I like it! It’s very straightforward and focuses the bookshelf-pursuer directly on the book’s purpose: to provide a new examination of the work of Allen Ginsberg.
I can’t speak for other publishers or editors, but mine have been extremely helpful and responsive throughout the entire process. Now, for McFarland’s part, they do not — or at least, not in my case — secure permissions for using copyrighted materials in the books they publish; that’s left to me. And so, throughout this process there has been a recent and thorough scrubbing of all of my permissions contracts to ensure that everything that was quoted and contracted for has been in order. In my case, there were some language changes to be made as I ended up not using all of the materials I had contracted permission to use. (Thank goodness it wasn’t the other way around!)
Beyond this, I am still recovering emotionally from having to grapple with all of the peer reviewer comments. Most of my comments were quite positive but there were others that were less than positive (which is what makes a good peer review — what’s the point of sending out a manuscript if you don’t receive anything useful in return?). At any rate, the comments I did receive were not that surprising to me and I think that’s what writers ought to aim for when sending out a work for peer review — try to have a good idea of what the weaker components of your work are before you turn it in; this will not only enable you to keep working while you wait but will also help give you a bulwark against any hurt feelings or insecurities when you finally do get those comments back.
For my part, one of my reviewers ended up being much more helpful and positive than the other who was much vaguer and frustrated (though, I must add, I am very grateful to all of my reviewers for their time, thoughtful comments, and sage advice). Due to the comments received and the window I had to incorporate those comments while still meeting my deadlines (I had already asked for one extension and didn’t want to do so again, although I know that asking for multiple extensions isn’t uncommon), I was able to polish bits and pockets of the whole while providing disclaimers and explanations for why other gaps remained — you can’t win them all, after all, you can only do your best.
For what it’s all worth, I am proud of my book. I am a very young author, especially for academia, and so perhaps any mistakes or gaps I’ve made can be in part due to this but I don’t personally believe so — I think being wrong and having problems is just another part of attempting something new for yourself.
My advice? Whether you’re working on a piece of fiction or nonfiction, academic or otherwise, be sure to give credit where credit is due, acknowledge where your ideas or arguments or elements are coming from, and explain how and why you are using them. This way, even if you end up using your tools incorrectly or in a way that others do not appreciate, your readers know where to go to learn more. Simply: be respectful in all things — do not decide that “it’s art” and therefore all the world is yours to use. Art should never be held up as an excuse to pillage or harm.
I’ll have more updates regarding my publishing and marketing process this time next week! In the meantime, if you have any specific questions regarding publishing that you’d like me to speak to — I’d be more than happy to try! Just send them my way 🙂
Meanwhile, keep reading and keep writing!