Why Temple Researchers Publish OA

promotional banner for open access week

This week is Open Access Week, a yearly international celebration that aims to increase awareness about open access (scholarship that is free to read and reuse). Most academic work is locked up behind a paywall, available only to those who are affiliated with a college or university. Many Temple faculty members and graduate students choose to publish in open access journals in order to make their work more widely available to readers around the world.

The Libraries support open access publishing by Temple researchers through our Open Access Publishing Fund. When faculty and graduate students apply for the fund, we ask them why they have chosen to publish open access. Here are a few of the responses we have received this year:

“I prefer to publish open access because it increases accessibility and visibility. With an open access publication, I can be confident that my lab’s work will be accessible to everyone, free of charge and without having to wait for an embargo period.”
-David Smith, Assistant Professor, Psychology

“The open access nature of the journal is well-suited to our article, which addresses traffic calming via the use of non-asphalt materials for paving road surfaces, making streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorized vehicles. Such paving materials are more common in the developing world, which was noted by one of the article reviewers. Publishing in an open access journal enhances access to the article by scholars in developing countries, where access to more conventional academic journals may be restricted due to cost or other barriers.”
-Jeremy Mennis, Professor, Environmental Studies

“This research is about the ecology of invasive species, which are an increasingly urgent problem that affect natural systems across the globe. It is important to make this research accessible to the scientific community and other non-academic stakeholders who are studying or affected by invasive species.”
-Amy Freestone, Associate Professor, Biology

“It is good to publish in an open-access journal because this format allows broader sharing of our studies. In addition, being digital, online article is published faster than the traditional journal article that takes over 4-6 months for printing an issue. Being open access, everyone worldwide can read our article without having to afford a costly subscription.”
-Marion Chan, Associate Professor, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

“The study aims to assess the relative importance of both environmental and socioeconomic neighborhood factors in the prediction of A. albopictus’ (one of the main transmitters of Zika virus) presence in Southeast Pennsylvania using MaxEnt (open source software) machine-learning algorithm. The study uses exclusively free available data and software to provide knowledge about the main drivers and current distribution of a vector species in South East Pennsylvania. This knowledge is relevant not only for academia but for others professionals working or interested on mosquito prevention planning such as public health officials. The free availability of this publication will provide access for these stakeholders to information that otherwise would be restricted for general use. We believe that publication in an open access journal will boost the impact of the article within and beyond academia.”
-Daniel Wiese, PhD student, Geography and Urban Studies

“The paper presents a school-based preventive dental program in the Republic of Armenia, as well as its results and recommendations to local stakeholders. In this middle-income country, most of the universities and public institutions do not have institutional access to mainstream academic journals. Publishing open access will allow readers in Armenia and in other low-income settings to get access to this paper and possibly replicate the intervention and its results.”
-Hamlet Gasoyan, PhD student, College of Public Health

2019-2020 OA Publishing Fund

**Please note: as of 10/30/19 the OA Publishing Fund has been exhausted for the 2019-2020 year. We will have more funds beginning on July 1, 2020.**

We are excited to announce that the Libraries will continue our Open Access Publishing Fund in 2019-2020. The fund is open to all current Temple faculty members. Current postdoctoral fellows, residents, and graduate students may also apply, as long as there is at least one faculty member listed as a co-author on the article.

Authors with a journal article that has been accepted or is under consideration by an open access publisher are encouraged to apply. Authors simply fill out a brief application with their information, a copy of the article, and a copy of the journal acceptance letter (if available). Funds will be available on a first come, first served basis. The Libraries will aim to make a final decision regarding the application within two weeks’ time. If the request is approved, Libraries will transfer funds to authors’ research fund or departmental account. The Libraries cannot reimburse authors or pay publishers directly.

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicants must be a current Temple University faculty member OR a current postdoctoral fellow/resident/graduate student with a faculty member listed as a co-author.
  • Applicants with external grant funding that could cover, either in whole or in part, the cost of any publication and processing fees are ineligible.
  • Applicants must agree to deposit a copy of their publication in our Digital Library, or any future library repository.

Publication Eligibility

  • The publication must take the form of a peer-reviewed journal article.
  • Many subscription journals now offer an open access option in which authors can choose to pay a fee to make their article open access. These publications are sometimes called “hybrid” open access journals. Articles in “hybrid” journals are not supported.
  • The journal must be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
  • The publisher must be a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA), or clearly follow the membership criteria of the organization.
  • Because the Libraries already cover 50% of the APC for BioMed Central journals, these journals are not eligible.

Additional Limitations

  • Each applicant may request up to $1,500 total per fiscal year. This amount may be split across multiple applications so long as funds are available.
  • For articles with multiple Temple authors, the per article payment is capped at $3,000.
  • Funding will cover publication and processing fees only. Funds may not be used for reprints, color illustration fees, non-open access page charges, permissions fees, web hosting for self-archiving, or other expenses not directly related to open access fees.
  • For applicants who have not yet submitted for publication, requests will be conditionally approved awaiting official acceptance by the publisher. All conditional approvals will expire six months after notification. Applicants must provide a copy of the acceptance letter before the invoice is processed.
  • Fees are pro-rated for multi-authored articles. Co-authors from outside of Temple are not supported. If an article includes non-Temple authors, the APC will be divided equally among all authors and then the Temple authors’ portion will be funded. For example, if the APC is $2000, and there are four authors, two of whom are from Temple, the authors can apply for $1000 from the fund ($500 each).

Attribution Requirement

  • Authors who receive support must include the following statement in their acknowledgements: Publication of this article was funded in part by the Temple University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Download a copy of the application form here.

Questions? Contact Mary Rose Muccie (maryrose.muccie@temple.edu) or Annie Johnson (annie.johnson@temple.edu).

Note: The image above, “Open Access Publishing Fund,” is a derivative of “Open Access at CC” by Amy Collier for Creative Commons, and is used under CC BY 4.0. “Open Access Publishing Fund” is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by Annie Johnson.

2018-2019 Recipients of the OA Publishing Fund

picture of open arrow sign

“Open”by “Caveman Chuck” Coker is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

We are pleased to announce the 2018-2019 recipients of the Open Access Publishing Fund. Congrats to all!

Jocelyn Behm, Brianna DiMarco, Christian Irian, Kelley Langhans, Kathleen McGrath, Tyler J. Tran and Matthew Helmus (College of Science and Technology, Biology). “First records of the mourning gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris Duméril and Bibron, 1836), common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus in Duméril, 1836), and Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko Linnaeus, 1758) on Curaçao, Dutch Antilles, and remarks on their Caribbean distributions.”

Megan Heere, Beth Moughan, Stephen Aronoff, Joseph Alfonsi, and Jennifer Rodriguez (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Clinical Pediatrics). “Effect of Education and Cardboard Bassinet Distribution on Newborn Bed-Sharing.”

Albert Kim (College of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering). “An Implantable Ultrasonically-Powered Micro-Light-Source (µLight) for Photodynamic Therapy.”

Ravi Kudesia (Fox School of Business, Human Resource Management). “Does interacting with trustworthy people enhance mindfulness? An experience sampling study of mindfulness in everyday situations.”

Peter Marshall and Ashley R. Drew (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Interpersonal Influences on Body Representations in the Infant Brain.”

Peter Marshall, Nathan J. Smyk, and Staci Meredith Weiss (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Sensorimotor Oscillations during a Reciprocal Touch Paradigm with a Human or Robot Partner.”

Peter Marshall and Staci Meredith Weiss (College of Liberal Arts, Psychology). “Neural Measures of Anticipatory Bodily Attention in Children: Relations with Executive Function.”

Charles Munyon (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Neurosurgery). “Neuroethics of Non-primary Brain Computer Interface: Focus on Potential Military Applications.”

Heather Murphy and Shannon McGinnis (College of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics). “Bacterial Contamination on Latrine Surfaces in Community and Household Latrines in Kathmandu, Nepal.”

Gillian Queisser (College of Science and Technology, Mathematics). “Spine-to-Dendrite Calcium Modeling Discloses Relevance for Precise Positioning of Ryanodine-Receptor-Containing Spine Endoplasmic Reticulum.”

Saqib Rehman, Katharine D. Harper, Courtney Quinn, Joshua Eccles, and Frederick Ramsey (Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine). “Administration of Intravenous Antibiotics in Patients with Open Fractures is Dependent on Emergency Room Triaging.”

Soomin Seo (Klein College of Media and Communication, Journalism, Media, & Communication). Special Issue: Talking With the ‘Hermit Regime’: North Korea, Media, and Communication, International Journal of Communication. Not yet published.

Sylvia Twersky (College of Public Health, Health Services Administration and Policy). “Restrictive State Laws Aimed at Immigrants: Effects on Enrollment in Food Stamp Program by U.S. Citizen Children in Immigrant Families.” 

Geoffrey Wright (College of Public Health, Physical Therapy). “Tonic neuromuscular processing affects postural adaptation differently in aging and Parkinson’s Disease.” 

Xiaoxing Xi, L. Kasaei, T. Melbourne, Ke Chen, and B.A. Davidson (College of Science and Technology, Physics). “MgB2 Josephson junctions produced by focused helium ion beam irradiation.”

Using Manifold for Publishing Digital Scholarly Books

Almost three years ago, we wrote about some of the new digital publishing platforms that scholars should know about. Today we’re going to take a closer look at one of them: Manifold. Manifold is an open source platform for publishing books online that was developed by the University of Minnesota Press, GC Digital Scholarship Lab at the City University of New York, and Cast Iron Coding, thanks to support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Manifold makes it easy for publishers to create beautiful, responsive, multimedia-rich online publications using existing files. Manifold ingests texts from EPUB, HTML, Markdown, and Google Docs (unlike, say, Scalar, Manifold itself is not an authoring platform). In addition to the University of Minnesota, a number of other university presses have started to use or experiment with Manifold, including the University of Arizona Press, the University of Washington Press, and Temple University Press.

So, why might a scholar choose Manifold for their next book? Here are our top 5 reasons:

  1. Your research includes lots of images, videos, or audio that won’t work in a print book. Manifold makes it easy to to add supplementary resources to a project. Resources can either be uploaded directly to Manifold or you can link out to other webpages. For one example of how this can work, check out Metagaming by Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux.
  2. You’re interested in getting feedback from colleagues. Manifold allows readers to highlight and annotate the text and share those annotations with others. As the author, you could even post an early draft of your work on Manifold and have people comment on it as a form of open peer review.
  3. You’re active on social media and want to know how readers are engaging with your book. Each Manifold project gets a hashtag for use on various social media platforms. Manifold integrates with Twitter, and mentions of the book can be curated and displayed on the book’s main page. For one example of how this can work, check out Internet Daemons by Fenwick McKelvey.
  4. You want to experiment with the process of writing a book. Manifold can be used in different ways. In addition to displaying the final book file, authors can post pieces of their project as they research and write it. Authors can share drafts, commentaries, talks, and other writings with readers in order to get feedback and ultimately make their work better. Readers can “follow” a book project as it develops and be alerted when new content is posted. For one example of how this can work, check out Social Theory for Nonhumans by John Hartigan.
  5. You care about making your research available beyond the academy. All Manifold projects published by the University of Minnesota Press are open access, meaning that anyone around the world can read them for free.

Are you considering using Manifold or another digital publishing platform for your next book project? Have questions about Manifold that we haven’t answered here? Let us know in the comments.

Call for Proposals: Temple Faculty-Authored Open Textbooks

North Broad Press is excited to launch our spring 2019 call for open textbook proposals. We’re looking for faculty members to author or edit open textbooks in their fields of study. All Temple University faculty are eligible to apply. Faculty whose proposals are selected will receive a stipend of $5,000.

The application is available here. The deadline for proposals is March 29, 2019. All applicants will be notified by April 15, 2019.

About us
North Broad Press is a joint publishing project between Temple University Press and Temple University Libraries. We publish works of scholarship, both new and reissued, from the Temple University community. Examples include open textbooks written, edited, or compiled by Temple faculty; previously out-of-print books written by Temple faculty or published by the Press; and born digital projects produced by Temple faculty or staff.

What is an open textbook?
An open textbook is a textbook licensed under a Creative Commons license and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers, and members of the public. Print-on-demand copies are also made available at cost. Open textbooks save students money and improve learning outcomes by ensuring that all students have access to their textbook on the first day of class.

What does the work involve?
As author, the faculty member is responsible for writing the text, finding and/or creating suitable images and figures, and clearing any necessary permissions. As editor, the faculty member is responsible for finding contributors, ensuring content requirements and deadlines are met, communicating feedback, and writing an introduction for the volume. Faculty members will keep the copyright to their book and will be able to choose the Creative Commons license that best suits the project.

Will this be peer reviewed?
Yes! All North Broad Press projects go through the peer review process to ensure the accuracy, effectiveness, and appropriateness of the text.

Have questions about your proposal or would like to discuss it before submitting? Please contact Annie Johnson and Mary Rose Muccie.

“We Are the People We Are Waiting For”: Reflections on OpenCon 2018

Jacqueline Phillips and other attendees at OpenCon. Photograph courtesy of Erin McKiernan.

OpenCon is a unique conference that brings together leading early career academic professionals and students from across the world to catalyze action toward a more open system of research and education. This year, Temple University Libraries was proud to sponsor Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Department of Kinesiology (College of Public Health) Jacqueline Phillips to attend OpenCon. The following is a guest post from Dr. Phillips about her experience.

This past weekend I participated in the 2018 OpenCon conference. Since this was my first OpenCon conference I wasn’t very sure of what to expect, but knew it was a gathering of early career professionals with a passion for open access (OA), so I was eager to take part. As a newcomer to the OA world this was my first exposure to an open community beyond my university. Overall, I was completely blown away by the programming and the passion of everyone there to collaborate and better their communities.

Open scholarly work was a new topic I was introduced to at this conference. Although I’ve known about open access journals and the concept of open data, I learned about other ways to make your work open such as posting preprints. Preprints are drafts of manuscripts that are posted online prior to being peer reviewed and formally published. Since a paper can sit in a purgatory-like state for a lengthy amount of time during the standard journal submission process, “pre-printing” enables the author(s) to share their work right away with those in their field. Readers can leave comments or questions, and the paper can be updated with revisions or with a final manuscript after it’s been published. By getting a DOI for a preprint, someone’s work is protected, and others are able to cite the paper. This format enables an early conversation to occur while also helping to connect individuals and advance their work.

As an instructor, my ears always perked up when the topic of open education resources (OER) arose. Strategies on finding already made resources were discussed along with troubleshooting areas of creating resources, like finding or making images (an issue commonly faced in the sciences). Some of the most useful bits of information that I’ll be taking home in this area came through networking and talking to others who have been through this process and were able to provide me with practical tips and wonderful sources. Beyond the making of or incorporation of OER, the discussion that most resonated with me in this area was the importance of student advocacy on campus for OER. A few students were in attendance at OpenCon who spoke about the clubs they were a part of whose mission it is to educate other students about what OER are and how they are impactful. Beyond educating their fellow peers on the subject, they also push for their administration to recognize the importance of the incorporation of OER on campus. This is the type of movement that can help to incentivize faculty to incorporate open materials into their classes, and encourage administration to change the metrics of success that faculty are graded upon for merit or promotion. Student advocacy was a different approach to fostering a cultural change on a campus that seemed to be very successful within these communities.

One particular aspect of the conference I was impressed by was the diversity. Not only the diversity of the attendees, but also presenters and organizers. By having people of different backgrounds and perspectives from around the world involved with all aspects of this event, it contributed to the depth and range of discussions that were held. A topic was presented about how sometimes our mainstream movement to advance OA can inadvertently perpetuate the marginalization of communities this movement aims to help. A lack of diversity at events such as this would only reinforce this oppression; however, I feel the organizers were sensitive to this concept and handled the conference in a way that will help to break down some of these barriers. There was even transparency about the demographics of the conference. The organizers informed us all about the numbers and breakdown of gender, ethnicity, profession etc. of everyone at and involved with the conference. This holds the conference to a higher standard and only helps to make the event even more productive. I hope that we’ll see other conferences begin to incorporate this presentation of the statistics into their events to show commitment to diversity and equity.

The last day of the conference featured a do-a-thon (similar to the concept of a hackathon) where attendees worked in groups to create solutions to particular issues that were brought to the table. All of our work and action plans are available online to the public so that anyone can help and contribute. Overall, I felt very productive at OpenCon. I learned how to use design thinking to solve issues, walked away with actionable items to promote the incorporation of OER, and most importantly, I made connections and became a member of a community that is inspired to collaborate to progress this movement. The conference was closed by Nicole Allen, from SPARC, who left us with the quote: “We are the people we are waiting for.” This perfectly sums of the message I hope to spread to others. We have the ability to break down barriers in education, and now after having attended OpenCon I feel I have more tools to help not only myself, but others accomplish this.

A Brief Introduction to Open Access Journal Publishers

“Types of OA Publishers” by Annie Johnson is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

This week is Open Access Week, a yearly international celebration that aims to increase awareness about open access (scholarship that is free to read and reuse). Most academic work is locked up behind a paywall, available only to those who are affiliated with a college or university. One way researchers can make their work more widely available to readers is by publishing in an open access journal.

Some of the largest publishers of open access journals are actually commercial publishers you’ve probably heard of, like Elsevier and Springer Nature. SAGE, De Gruyter, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley also publish open access journals.

Nonetheless, there are a growing number of exclusively open access journal publishers whose names may be less familiar to researchers. Here’s a brief run down of some of the major open access publishers you might encounter:

Exclusively Open Access Non-Profit Publishers

eLife
eLife is a non-profit OA publisher/journal that was founded by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust is 2011. They publish scholarship in the life and biomedical sciences. Some articles published in eLife include ancillary materials, such as the decision letter from the editorial team with suggestions for improvement, as well as the authors’ response to that letter. Peer reviewers may also choose to reveal their identities to authors. In addition to traditional journal content eLife runs a magazine which includes editorials, interviews, and podcasts. eLife is one of the most prominent publishers to criticize the journal impact factor. As a result, they do not report on or promote this metric.

PLOS
Founded in 2001, PLOS (Public Library of Science) is a non-profit publisher that publishes seven journals. Its flagship journal, PLOS ONE is known as a “mega journal” because of the large number of articles it publishes (22,054 papers in 2016 alone). In 2014 PLOS implemented a new data policy, in which they require that all researchers make the data underlying their work fully available.

Exclusively Open Access Commercial Publishers

BioMed Central
Based in the United Kingdom, BioMed Central (BMC) was founded in 1999 and publishes over 300 journals. It is now owned by Springer Nature. Temple University Libraries is an institutional member of BMC, and automatically covers 50% of the total APC for all Temple researchers who submit.

F1000 Research
F1000 Research is a scholarly publication platform that was founded in 2000. It is known for its use of open peer review. F1000 Research publishes posters and slides in addition to scholarly articles.

Frontiers
Frontiers Media was founded in 2007 and is based in Switzerland. It currently publishes sixty-three open access journals in a range of disciplines.

Hindawi
Hindawi is an open access publisher based in London. It was founded in 1997, although it did not become an exclusive open access publisher until the 2000s. Hindawi currently publishes over 400 journals.

MDPI
Founded in 1996, the publisher MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute) is based in Switzerland and publishes 203 open access journals, mostly in the sciences.

PeerJ
Launched in 2013, PeerJ is a publisher of two journals: PeerJ (which focuses on the biological, medical and environmental sciences) and PeerJ Computer Science. They also have a repository for preprints, called PeerJ Preprints. In the beginning, PeerJ relied on a membership model to make money, in which authors would pay one fee and they could publish for free in PeerJ for the rest of their careers. They have recently changed their model so that authors can pay an article processing charge (APC) instead of purchasing a lifetime membership.

One last note: all the publishers profiled here are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics, and their journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Temple Students Talk Textbooks

Photograph by Emily Toner.

At the start of each academic year, library staff set up a table in Paley to talk to Temple students about their textbooks. Most students don’t know that college textbook prices have risen 1,041 percent since 1977. They just know that textbooks are too expensive.

In order to save money, Temple students employ a number of different strategies. Many take advantage of interlibrary loan or read their textbook at the library on reserve. Some split the cost of the book with other friends in their class. Others look for a pirated version online.

This year, we heard from a neuroscience major who spent $300 on a textbook, and a political science major who spent $200 on a Spanish textbook. A sophomore told us how the textbook in her psychology class cost $200. On the first day of class, the professor asked, “How many of you have the textbook already?” and a number of people raised their hands. She felt embarrassed that she didn’t have the textbook yet, but she simply didn’t have the money to buy it. Several students told us that they ended up dropping a class once they found out the cost of the textbook.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are a growing number of low and no-cost alternatives to commercial textbooks that can save students money while still providing them with the same or better learning outcomes.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning materials that are free to read and reuse. OER can take many different forms, but one of the most common are open textbooks. In many ways, open textbooks are just like regular textbooks: they are written by experts in the field and the content is subjected to rigorous peer review. Some even come with ancillary materials for instructors, such as homework problems or slides.

However, there are also some important differences. First, open textbooks are free to read. How is this possible you may be wondering? Well, instead of making money off of sales, authors of open textbooks are often paid a stipend upfront for their work. Open textbooks are funded by foundations, the federal government, universities, libraries, and other entities who want to ensure that all students have access to the learning materials they need in order to succeed. Second, because they are openly licensed, open textbooks can be revised, repurposed, or reused in order to fit the specifics of the class, all without seeking permission from the copyright holder.

Want to learn more about OER? Have questions about who is using open textbooks in their classes at Temple? Get in touch with your liaison librarian or sign up for one of our upcoming workshops:

“Integrating Open Access Resources Into Your Canvas Course” (10/23/18)

“Using Open Textbooks in the Classroom” (10/25/18)

Advice for First Time Book Authors: Tailoring Your Approach


Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash.

The following is a guest post from Aaron Javsicas, Temple University Press Editor-in-Chief.

“It depends.” That’s my advice for first time book authors. Maybe it doesn’t sound terribly helpful, but it’s true (and I do try not to leave it there). It depends who the author is and what her goals are. It depends who the press is and what its strengths are. It depends who the intended reader is.

Roughly speaking, book publishing is divided in two main categories: academic and trade. There are many shades in between these two poles, and also other categories — professional books, for example — that tend to fall outside this binary. But these are the main ones. Academic books include research monographs written for a relatively small audience of specialists, textbooks for course adoption, and books by academics that advance scholarship but are also written in an accessible, expansive way which can make them useful for upper level undergraduate courses and some general readers. “Trade books” means general interest books; these could be fiction or nonfiction, but they are aimed squarely at the general public.

Keeping the likely audience for the “Scholarly Communication @ Temple” blog in mind (see “audience,” below), my comments here apply mainly to academic book authors seeking an academic publisher.

Audience: Speaking of audience (see above), it’s important to decide who you think will really read your book. It’s not uncommon for scholars to believe their books will attract a wide readership beyond the academy, and to pitch their projects to editors in these terms. It’s certainly possible! And I would never discourage authors from seeking wider audiences — writing to be read is a good thing. But at the same time, targeting your core audience is crucial, and being realistic about this audience tends to build your credibility with editors considering your project. In your proposal, I recommend you identify your book’s primary audience and explain why you see it that way, and then describe and argue (with evidence) for any secondary audiences.

Main point: What is your main point? What questions are you asking? What arguments are you making? This probably all sounds painfully obvious. But I promise you, it is often painfully missing. Or buried on page 9 of the proposal. Try to wave a flag, right at the top of your proposal, making crystal clear what the purpose of your book is. This will go a long way toward smoothing your path with editors, peer reviewers, editorial boards, and even, when the time comes, marketing and publicity staff.

Short and long description: Related to this, editors and other press staff will very much appreciate it if you’re able to provide a brief, one paragraph capsule description right at the top of your proposal, before you get into your more in-depth project overview. Especially at this early stage, it’s helpful for press staff to have a short description easily at hand as they pass the project around within the office for initial feedback.

Method: What kind of evidence will you marshal to support your claims? Again, this is an obvious one, but it’s also an opportunity to shine. Academic editors tend to be fairly knowledgeable, and if you have used an interesting experimental design, or if you have generated a creative data set, or if you have managed to land an impressive batch of interviews or gain access to an important but under-used archive, make sure to highlight these and describe what’s special about them.

Approaching an editor: Just as it’s important to know your likely readership, it’s also important to approach presses that are most likely to be interested in your work. Not all presses publish in all disciplines. Ask colleagues in your field about their experiences with different presses. Look at your bookshelf and see which presses appear there most. Consult the AU Presses Subject Grid. Check out presses’ websites and look for the page that describes each editor’s list areas. Then, once you’ve identified the right editors, it’s ok to send a short initial inquiry via email to confirm whether your topic is of interest. Or, you can just go ahead and email your proposal. Hopefully you’ll hear back shortly.

Marketing: Will you be an active author on the sales and marketing front? What can you do to help sell the book? What mailing lists can you access or help the press access? Are you prepared to appear at book signings, to deliver lectures, and to promote the book at conferences as opportunities arise? Are you open to appearing on TV and podcasts, writing op-eds, and sitting for radio interviews, and do you have connections that can help make this happen? If the book is appropriate for classroom adoption, which specific course titles should sales and marketing staff target? Do you know specific instructors who you believe will adopt the book? An active author can make an enormous difference to book sales, so publishers will be interested to see what you can offer along these lines. I strongly suggest highlighting this in your proposal.

Best foot forward: You don’t have to be finished when you approach an editor. Editors expect see drafts, not a finished product. That said, it’s important to put effort into making your proposal and draft chapters as appealing and easy to read as possible. If you’re converting a published article into a book chapter, go ahead and convert it before you submit your project — don’t, for example, leave the article abstract at the top of the chapter. Get rid of typos from your proposal. More broadly, try to put yourself in the editor’s shoes, be respectful of his or her time, and make reading the proposal the smoothest and most enjoyable experience possible (see “short description” above).

Multiple submissions: If you’re going to submit to multiple presses, be transparent about it. Some presses require an exclusive first look, some don’t. But all will want you to be transparent about your plans.

Physical details: Have a sense of the physical properties of your book – what is the word count (including everything — main text, notes, bibliography, etc. — except for the index, which comes later and can’t be counted yet). Generally speaking, publishers think in terms of word counts, not manuscript page counts. How many illustrations will you include? Is black and white ok? Will your project need any special treatment from the production department – an unusual trim size, text set in a specific way, colors or symbols to avoid on the cover? All of these details can affect how much the book costs to make and for readers to buy, and are therefore important for the publisher to know.

Book publishers are busy people. So are authors. But the more effort you put into these initial stages of the project, the easier and more enjoyable the publishing process should be for all involved, including you. And always keep in mind that publishers want to publish books. We like books, we need books, and we don’t enjoy saying no to books. But we do need a clear reason to go forward with your book.