Monday, October 25, 2010

Books and articles

In the poetry world, the ideal is to publish as many poems as one can from one's manuscript in progress before it even goes as a whole collection to a press: lots of poems published in good journals serves as a kind of imprimatur for publishers. There's no downside to publishing, theoretically, the whole damned book in pieces.

But I've heard that this is not the case with academic publishing. I've heard that part of the draw for publishers of monographs is that they're putting out into the world a significant chunk of new thinking, which hasn't been pre-empted by that material's prior appearance in academic journals. I guess it's the publishing version of "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

What's your sense, y'all? I ask because one of my unpublished chapters has been solicited, and I'm not sure whether I should decline or pursue potential publication with it.

The tally so far from the book:

Of 6 chapters, 1 is introductory and 1 is concluding. Nothing of those chapters has seen or will see the light of day outside this book.

Of the four left: I've published pretty closely correlating article versions of 2 of them. Is it pushing it to go for three?


Flavia said...

I hate to say it, but if you have four body chapters, three closely-correlated articles-from-chapters is probably too many.

I have five body chapters, one of which I published almost as-is in article form; a second of which I took about 1/2 from for an article (though it's a much-earlier version of that 1/2); and a third from which I published a significantly condensed version as an article (but taking the big points and the best ones).

And even though I think the book operates TOTALLY DIFFERENTLY as a whole than in separate parts, and even though I think of what I've published as being actually just a taste of two of those three chapters, I had to explain and defend those publications to the editor at the press that's reviewing my book.

Renaissance Girl said...

That's what I thought, Flavia, and I actually am happy to hear it, because diverting my attention to article-izing one of my finished chapters is not how I want to use my time right now. You've given me good permission to keep doing what I'm doing without feeling guilt or regret.

moria said...

I have no notion of publishers. But as a reader: if I know someone's work in article form, and I see more or less the same thing replicated in a book, I'm unlikely to bother with the book, beyond the introduction, in nearly all cases, for both material and intellectual reasons.

So this may be a question not only of publication but of readership or exposure. You want people to read that book? Don't ask them to re-read that book.

/unqualified personal opinion