Saturday, October 9, 2010

MLA and bookshopping

After (not so) long silence...Ah, well. Never one to shut up for long.

I have a question for my academic peeps out there. Almost halfway through the newly rebuilt Donne chapter now, and if I keep to my goals that means I'll have finished and done one top-to-bottom revision of the book by the time my leave ends after Christmas. I'm planning to craft a book proposal during December. And MLA is in early January this year, and I'm going. (The Sunday of MLA is my bday, by the way, and I hope to have left LA in my jetwash by then. Who wants to spend their bday in a stressbox?)

Anyhow, there we'll all be: all the academic publishers and I cozied up together in the cavernous MLA bookfair. How does one approach this situation? Do I try to set up meetings in advance with the publishers/editors I most hope to woo without inundating them with proposals? Send proposals in advance of MLA, with or without mentioning that I'll be at MLA? (Do I need to move the proposal-crafting up in the schedule?) Stalk and ambush publishers/editors without preamble, armed with 9x12 envelopes?

What are the protocols here? HELP!


squadratomagico said...

I'd advise trying to set up meetings in advance. Work up a proposal, a table of contents, and a cover letter that states your interest in the press. The letter definitely should mention that you'll be at MLA, and casually suggest that you'd welcome the opportunity to speak with him/her over a cup of coffee, in order to discuss how your project might fit with the current direction of the press.

Also: Find out from friends (or possibly the website) the name of the editor in charge of your area, and send your email directly to him/her. Getting your correspondence to the right desk is important.

squadratomagico said...

Oh, and yes: move up your schedule for the proposal crafting, if possible, and send it out at least 3 weeks in advance of MLA. (It meets around the holidays, right? Better to give more time than less, then....)

ntbw said...

Any chance of finagling an introduction to an editor ahead of MLA and then setting up an appointment to meet at MLA to talk about a proposal you've sent after an initial conversation but before the MLSA?

The very best thing anyone ever did for my career was to introduce me to the acquisitions editor for the press where I most wanted to publish my first book. Lovely Kind Important Scholar / Friend and Mentor introduced me to the editor of Desirable Press at the Medieval Academy one spring, and then when I did the whole proposal sending thing, I was already a known quantity, someone who came with a trusted vote of confidence from LKIS / FAM. This was back before people did so much living online, and I bet now it would even work virtually, via an e-mail introduction and initial contact. The point is, I think it makes a big difference to an editor to receive a proposal that's not just coming out of nowhere.

Anonymous said...

I was going to say what Squady did,! :)