Friday, August 1, 2008

These awkward blind dates.

Okay. So I've heard, as of this morning, from the second of two presses that are high on my priority list for this book project, and the good news is that they're both interested in the project. The bad news is that they want it to be more fully complete before they move to the contract stage--which is fine, makes total sense to me, and raises no objection in my paranoid psyche.

But what I DO find confusing is the strange rush that academics are made to feel in this process. I've articulated before, somewhere earlier on this blog, my discomfort with shopping a MS that's only half-done. In all the other publishing I've done/ I do, I've accounted for every freaking comma before I send the sucker out. It feels wrong to me, and half-assed, to submit something so speculative for publication: Yes, I have this really great idea that I haven't fully worked through, and I hope you'll just trust me that it will be fantastic. But the counsel I received from other academics is that the speculative submission is the way it's done.

So I guess I'm saying that I'm relieved that I'm being encouraged to write more of the damned book before someone leaps to publish it. And I'm glad that these two presses, my first choices really, are being preliminarily encouraging. I suppose it's a good thing that they know I'm out there. But I wish I'd gone out with more strength, had waited until I had a MS with every idea nailed down and every comma in place before I started shopping around. I feel like I've shown up on a blind date with stockings bagging around my ankles and toilet paper trailing from my waistband.


And have I mentioned that I really need to get my shit together and write something this summer? I'm a mess. So much for my rigorous timetable.


squadratomagico said...

I was advised the opposite -- that "advance" contracts are not really worth while, and that one should wait to shop the ms. until it is finished. I didn't have every single thing perfected before I sent it out -- there were a few empty footnotes, etc. -- but it was pretty complete. And the only contract I got was a final, binding one.

While it's good to be in contact with presses and editors early on, I'm not surprised they, too, told you to wait to submit.

Come on over to my place for a little present, RG!

Blue Cheese said...

Ah, yes. Well, academia, like dating, is all about mixed messages.

As for getting your crap together and writing something this summer, join the club. In fact, I don't trust academics that get a lot done in the summer. I always wonder, "what's wrong with them?"

On that note, let's play soon. Screw writing.

Flavia said...

I've heard conflicting advice, myself. It seems that some places DO give contracts based on, say, two good chapters. . . but I've been leery of going that route because, yeah, I have two good chapters. I had two good chapters in the dissertation, too. But what I DON'T have is a reasonably solid complete MS.

So I guess I'm glad that your experience seems to confirm the wisdom of getting the MS in shape before shopping a proposal--though it must be encouraging to have expressions of interest, however provisional. I'm sure it's entirely deserved, in your case.

Thus? Provisional congrats!

Dr. Write said...

I thought you had actually gone on a blind date.
I don't have any advice or knowledge about the world of academic publishing, I just want you to go on a blind date. No reason.
And we should go have a drink, since we're once again in the same hood.
happy non-writing! Join the club!