A while back you read part 1 of a guest post written by Professor Kathy Acheson about her current work writing a scholarly book and getting it published. She calls it a “soap opera,” but I think it’s pretty exciting stuff, and it certainly lifts the veil off the whole mysterious writing/revising/editing publishing process.
So, for your reading pleasure, on a Good Friday morning, here is KOA once again.
I’ve got the reader’s report about my book manuscript. I’m very pleased that the reader identified the parts I also think need a bit of spit and polish, and that he or she perceived the merit of parts I really like. Once I received two readers’ reports for an article that were diametrically opposed. One could barely muster the strength, after the depleting experience of trudging through my muddy and morassy manuscript, to say that it might be publishable with an awful lot of work. The other was effusive and basically said the light of truth was shining brighter in the world because of the article, and that it should be published without changing a word. Neither really concurred with my own judgement or expectations, so I didn’t find them especially helpful (although I re-read the positive one a few more times than I did the other). I suppose I was lucky in that the editors of the journal (Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 9:2 (2009), if you are interested) thought the second reader was dead on, and encouraged me just to dot and cross a little, and send them the final version a.s.a.p.
The reader’s report for the book ms was very positive overall (“this is an excellent project and I would certainly recommend publication;” “significant and innovative contributions to canonical scholarship;” “striking;” “illuminating”) and I was especially pleased that the reader thinks the chapter on Milton is a “tour de force.” I am very nervous writing about Milton, as that scholarly community is so sophisticated and deep, and sometimes assertive and protective of its own state of being – probably justifiably, as you have to know an awful lot to even start a sentence about Milton. “Tour de force” – well, that has a ring, doesn’t it.
But there are some revisions recommended before the book proceeds to publication. Because I trust the reader (as he or she seems to trust me!) I am happy to comply, and it took only one night of tossing and turning to figure out the most difficult part.
The next thing to do is to write a response to the reader’s report, in which I will agree to take up the reader’s criticisms and work out the bits that are a concern. I’ll also give them a date for the delivery of the revised ms. The editor for the press will send the reader’s report and my response to the editorial board, and to the editors of the series that will consider including the book in its list. If all goes well, the book will be put in the production schedule for the press. (If it doesn’t, I’m going to have to eat all the humble pie available and tell you all that I have to send the ms around to some other publishers and We Will See). I’ll let you know.