Many academics feel anxious about approaching and working with a publisher. Katharine Reeve, who has been on both sides of the fence, dispels myths about the publishing process and offers advice on getting into the good books

There is a perception that publishers fleece academic writers. It is true that they sometimes may ever so slightly take advantage of an academic’s salaried situation and professional need to publish. But over more than two decades, I’ve struggled with enough academic book costings to know how hard it is to make them work. Long, complex monographs are expensive to produce yet sell only 150 to 300 copies. This explains the £80 cover price and simple production values.

Academics have many misperceptions about publishing. The whole process seems to be cloaked in mystery, with powerful editors, dastardly secret reviewers and shady editorial committees deciding whether to accept or reject your work.

While fiction authors are surrounded by advice books, websites and degree courses designed to help them get published, academic authors are left to their own devices. How are you supposed to know what is and what is not a publishable text? An academic is generally a researcher first and a writer second: you may be an international authority on Viking headwear or poststructuralist theory, but you are unlikely to be as expert at writing full-length publishable books. Unless you have a savvy supervisor or have learned by trial and error, getting into print can be tough.

Reed full story in Times Higher Ed. My PhD is highly publishable, but the image rights are SO expensive… I was planning on talking to the Imperial War Museum with an eye to doing a joint project – which as they hold the image rights… (although if I can find someone who owns the posters, the posters themselves are out of copyright), but think this little book may have kyboshed that idea – have to think of other option, or see if they’re interested in a fuller academic approach…

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