Manuscript Madness

Earlier this year, after aeons of labor, I finished the manuscript for my book. Now I am looking for a publisher.

I know some people acquire first book contracts easily – they have published significantly in journals, they know the right people, they have the right demeanor or affiliation or maybe word just gets out that they are hot stuff in the world of sociology and, despite the fact that there may be little physical evidence of that prowess, the prophesy is sufficient to create the conditions for its fulfillment (i.e. a contract with a good press). I am not one of those people. Instead, I have spent much of the last 2 years writing and rewriting. I was advised to contact presses right after my dissertation defense – only a few at a time. So, that is what I did. Of the first 4 presses I contacted, 2 said that they were interested in the project but that they would not offer me, a first time author without any of the helpful things mentioned above, a contract until they had a substantial portion of the completed manuscript. Last summer I sent them a big chunk but they wanted more. This spring I sent the whole darn thing. I then resolved not to spend another minute on that manuscript until someone has agreed to publish it if I do.

You would think that writing the book was the hard part. Of course it was tough but it was a labor of love. Navigating the world of presses and external reviewers is excruciating in a politicking, status negotiating, time-consuming and opaque manner that makes me want to just post a link to the completed manuscript and be done with it all.

Given that I am not loving trying to place my manuscript and in light of the fact that few people are actually likely to read my book, even if it ends up as a sociology “best seller,” why I am even bothering? Well, of course, it would be a nice addition to the CV, but so would the 6 or 7 articles I could have had by splitting the project up. I could just move from the top of the list of publishers to the bottom in hopes that I would have an easier time of it but I don’t.

In the end I think it has less to do with wanting to be a sociologist and more to do with feeling like an author. I really love to write and I love to be read. I probably think too much of myself but I would like to believe that my book is interesting and enjoyable to read. I persist with this whole thing because I have the idea that whoever my publisher ends up being is going to play an important role connecting me with readers. That is a happy thought.

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