After writing a book, deciding to publish it, submitting a proposal, getting accepted, and finalizing the manuscript, I though I was done with my first book. My publisher disagreed: afte rwriting, editing, submitting, rewriting, and resubmitting followed: editing, copyediting, proofreading, indexing, marketing. It would have been easy to drown in these tasks, particularly as a perfectionist. So what to do?

Congratulations! After weeks of waiting (two for this post, but probably many more for the readers' comments on your manuscript) a press offered to publish your book. You must be delighted. I for sure was.

And then I was frightened. Once the offer from SAGE was in, it dawned upon me that I would now increasingly loose control. Until now, it was only me who read the text, some supervisors, some friends, the publisher, and his external reviewers. But whatever they read was a draft. So far, I managed to deceive myself into believing that all could still change. This time was over now. Now was time to let go - and quickly so...

Many authors, especially young ones like me, seem to be afraid of the peer review process. To be honest: I wasn't. Once SAGE decided to read the full manuscript for my book on Muslim peace activists, I knew that acceptance creep would set it. They were ready to invest effort, some money, and their network to check my book - and would not have done this if they had not seen potential in my proposal. Moreover: whatever the readers had to say would likely improve my work even in the unlikely event of not leading to a contract. Your book's first honest readers are its reviewers. I knew the road ahead was still long - the marketing department would have to go over everything, for instance, before I were to be offered an actual contract - but I was in.

After last week's post clarified whether your work is worth publishing as a monograph, this week's reflects on how you might convince a publisher of that - especially if you have very little to offer on your CV yet. When I started to contact publishers for my own "Being Muslim and Working for Peace" in 2010, my publication list was meagre: one refereed article on a different topic in a local South Asian journal, two German book reviews, and a string of conference papers. I had just enrolled for my PhD and started working as a lecturer at a not-well-known university in Germany. Even though I could boast my Associate status at Oxford and a splendid record as a student, there was little in my CV to reassure publishers that I know what I am doing. A good student is not necessarily a good writer and author.

While I transit back from Lucknow to Bielefeld and the printing presses at SAGE spit out the first copies of my first book, I am going to publish a series of posts on - publishing, especially book publishing to be precise. Book publishing before you got your PhD (though a lot will be relevant for any first monograph). I will reflect on my own experiences in transforming what once was a study abroad project, turned into a dissertation and further into a refereed monograph published by an international press. I will try not to repeat too much advice found elsewhere1 while writing about the following over the coming weeks:

Fundamentals: Some uncomfortable questions before you write any book
Proposal: Landing a book contract with little (yet) to offer
Review: Your book's first honest readers are its reviewers
Letting go: From author to published author
Technicalities: You thought you were done? Your book post submission

  • 1. One resource I can particularly recommend for its sound and concise advice is the following book by Gerald Jackson and the accompanying blog: Jackson, G, Lenstrup, M. (2009). Getting published. Copenhagen: NIAS.