Publishing a Book

BISR Seminar
 Better
to get a cleaning job (assuming £8
ph pay).
 Example: a book takes 2 years to write
with an average of three hours a day for
four days a week. So about 1080 hours. If
lucky with royalties, this probably works
out at £1ph.
Sales of academic books usually between 400
and about 1500 (for student-oriented books).
Assuming each book sold is read by 3-4
people, this might be worthwhile, or maybe not.
Reviews may take years to appear. But:
It might sell well.
It might be read by people in the field who
It is much more likely to be noticed than are
journal articles.
In sciences, journal articles are more
In arts and humanities, monographs seem
to be very important measures of
academic achievement.
In social sciences books can mark ‘coming
of age’ without necessarily being a
 Books
definitely help, especially in arts
and humanities.
 Referees often comment substantially on
 Panels will usually wait until reviews and
referees’ comments on a book are
available, and not take ‘commissioned’ or
‘to be published’ as sufficient.
 For
any people it is a nightmare…
 But: a book provides opportunity to:
• follow thoughts through and develop arguments,
• be brave and speculate,
• write in a more literary way,
• draw together ideas and material published in a
scattered way in journals.
 Monograph. Good
for REF, less good fro sales.
Close to the heart of most academics – a full
length statement of a piece of research or
 Edited collection. Much less good for REF and
sales. Can be a way of making a major
intervention in a field, drawing together many
significant voices or making a statement by a
new group of scholars. Often very frustrating to
 Essay
collection. Very attractive way of pulling
together one’s own work, though can be a
problem of repetitiousness and/or coherence.
Only REF friendly if chapters are not entered
 Student text. No good for REF. Best option for
sales. More likely to appear in paperback. Can
cross over into monograph but in any case has
its own value in teaching and communicating.
Publishers are always looking for authors and books.
Some publishers have more expertise in certain areas
than others, and sometimes more academic standing –
this matters more in the arts and humanities.
Look for a publisher with a strong list in your area,
maybe a series into which your book will fit, and
perhaps some authors whose work yours relates to
It is probably not worth worrying about which
publishers will sell more copies of your book.
It might be worth considering the stability of the
publishing team – what they are like to work with.
 Proposal
 Review
 Commissioning
 Draft
 Review
 Final
 Marketing
5-10 pages plus sample chapter
Rationale: what is the field, how will book contribute to
it, how does it fit with the list or series, why is it
needed? Emphasise the academic standing of the
Chapter outlines (1-3 paragraphs on each)
Market: who will buy it, will it sell overseas (esp. USA),
what courses will list it, what disciplines does it speak
Length, timescale
Author – how qualified to write this, what else
Better to send in a proposal than a whole book (though
this can work).
Publishers send out proposals to independent review,
usually to check quality but also for a view on market.
Reviewers can be very slow and brief in their
responses, but sometimes are very helpful.
Reviews of first draft plus publisher’s comments can be
very valuable (and annoying).
Reviewers want there to be substantial academic
content, good writing style, a clear reason for the book
and evidence of its feasibility. They will also comment
on market.
 Academic
contracts tend to be quite standard –
around 7.5% of actual receipts rising to 10%
and then more if sales are good.
 Advances are generally non-existent,
especially on first books.
 Edited books may not pay any royalties at all.
 It can be worth negotiating or getting advice.
This slide is intentionally blank… (or at
least this is how it usually seems to