Saturday, June 11, 2011

Getting It Published, Part 4

(For previous installments see here, here, and here.)

One night, midway through grad school, I was out at a bar with some friends when a woman a few years ahead of us walked in. I knew her only slightly, but one of my friends jumped up. "Hey! Did I hear that you just submitted your dissertation? Congratulations!"

We crowded around her, awed and impressed. Most of us had barely written a single chapter at that point.

"God! That must feel amazing," said one. "Does it feel amazing?"

"You must be so happy. Wow. You must be so proud." Said another.

She laughed. "You know? Eventually you get to the point where you hate your dissertation--SO MUCH--that the only way to be rid of it is to finish it."


That remains one of the more useful pieces of advice that I received in grad school. Though I never grew to hate my dissertation and I don't hate my book, I've hated large parts of the writing process and I've gone through plenty of periods of feeling sick of this project.

Right now is one such period. So last week I finished my latest round of revisions and dropped the manuscript back in the mail to the press that had asked for an R&R. I'm not so foolish as to think that this represents the last round of revisions that I'll make, or even the last significant revisions. But though parts of the book can still be improved, the shape of the whole is pretty much what it's going to be; I can't take this particular project any further, intellectually.

I hope my new reviewers like it. But if they don't, I'm going to send it out to another press--and if need be to another and another--before making further revisions.

I like my book. I feel good about its prospects. But it's time to move on.


Renaissance Girl said...

Yes. YES. I'm working up to a post on this point...

Anthea said...

Good post. Yes, I was given the same advice when I was writing my thesis. I find now when I'm working on some piece of text that when I really dislike it..I'm close to the point where the manuscript needs an editor.

cattyinqueens said...

Ah--I was going to ask you if you sent your proposal and initial materials via email or by post. You noted you "dropped it into the mail" this time, so it sounds like you used the US postal service.

Is that true for all of the steps involved?

I'm hoping to finish a draft of my proposal this week or next, and wasn't sure about whether to send electronically or in hard copies.

Also: I think that SAA publication workshop has probably caused a backlog all over the place; I think a huge number of people got proposals drafted and critiqued because of that thing. (I am slightly jealous of them)

Flavia said...


Definitely by post, unless you've been in touch with a specific editor and s/he has indicated that an emailed proposal would be welcome. Most editors do not look favorably on emailed proposals or letters of inquiry if they come totally cold.

And as for the SAA workshop: eh. I'm not sure that increases the overall number of people sending out proposals--we've all got the same publication pressures--though you may be right that it increases the number of appealing proposals somewhat.

Good luck!