Friday, August 23, 2013

50 Year Struggle for People's Morality

Even when I am feeling really down, I always feel cheered when I read 50 Year Struggle for People's Morality: The History of the West German Morality League from Its Beginning to Today (1885-1935) by Dr. Adolf Sellmann. 

“Now we sit in a swamp” and the best of our Volk feel “disgust at all of the disgracefulness and immorality that is taking hold everywhere....Our morality has collapsed; immorality has won the field. This is shown not only by the enormous increase in crime and the wildness of youth, but also by the moral filth in cinema and theater and the trashy literature.”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Bad and The Sad

The Bad is that my book manuscript keeps getting reviewed by academic publishers who eventually, after "reviewing" it for a very long time, do not publish it.

The Sad is that since October of 2011, when I sent out the first proposal, to today--almost two years--I have been going nuts because:

a) many people in the academic publishing industry will not return your calls and/or emails, even when they have had your manuscript under review for, oh, say, a year.

b) bad news keeps rolling in

This sucks also for everyone around me because they have to listen to me weep and rant about the above. They have to listen to that for, like, years.

Reader, this is my story:

After circulating the proposal to about twelve publishers, the majority of whom rejected it, I got word from several presses that wanted to review the full manuscript. I picked one and sent it to them.
This part took: three months. 

The manuscript sat on someone's desk at that press, despite what editorial staff claimed in their very infrequent replies to my many emails. In the meantime, I spent my research leave, which is supposed to be spent revising one's manuscript, doing other projects. 
This part took: seven months. 

The ms. finally went for review. The editor, whom I spent over a thousand dollars to meet in person at a far-away conference, told me that everything was going to be fine and that I shouldn't worry.
This part took: four months.

One positive review came back. I told the editor that I needed the process to speed up, because of tenure. The editor told me to take the book elsewhere because the process could not be sped up. I began to send the proposal out again.
This part took: three weeks.

As I circulated the proposal for a second time, I learned that one of the presses that initially wanted the ms.--a press that was a very likely home for the ms.--now, for reasons that had nothing to do with the ms. but everything to do with the fact that a year had elapsed, no longer wanted it. But a new press was interested; the series editor emailed me directly and asked to see the proposal. And a second new press wanted it, too! I sent the manuscript for review to both of these new presses (with the knowledge of the editors) and pulled it from the old one that had had it for a year.
This part took: two weeks. 

The one of the new presses quickly got two readers' reports! The series and acquisitions editors were enthusiastic!
This part took: two months. 

The editor at this press suddenly stopped returning my emails. Then s/he told me that the manuscript needed to go to the press's editorial board before I began revisions per the two readers' reports, because there was a concern that the book might not be a good fit in the series. But everyone--people at my work, me, friends--thought this was just a formality. And in the meantime, I did revisions per the two reports. These entailed traveling to Berlin to do additional research. Then, editorial board at this press axed the project because they felt that the book was not a good fit in the list (despite the series editor's enthusiasm). Meanwhile, the second new press that had the manuscript under review stopped returning my emails and did not respond to my phone calls. I was back to square one.
This part took: two months.

I freaked out and began to repeat things like, "Before, when the first press sat on it for more than a year and then dumped it, this was a scenario where someone would possibly not get tenure, but now, this is exactly the situation where someone does not get tenure" and "I want to lose my job. I want the manuscript to go unpublished. If my career is going to go down in flames, I want it to go down spectacularly and completely, like the Titanic, not two-bit and weird, like Anthony Wiener's mayoral candidacy." CC got me to calm down enough to send the proposal out again because, as she helped me realize, losing my job would be bad for our joint financial situation, and in the future I would like continue to buy things like lattes and new pants. I sent the proposal out, for a third time.
This part took: two weeks.

But then something that seems like it might be good happened. A press that had initially been interested in reviewing the ms. back in 2011 responded right away to the new round of proposals and asked to review the ms., and even offered an advance contract. And then they agreed to use the reader's reports that the previous press got. So I am back to square two. So that is really good, right?
This part took: one week.

So that might be good. I will have to wait and see. For sure something could go wrong!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Peer reviewers defeat themselves, again!

Peer reviewers once again self-defeated their own objectives.

'Cause they were like, "this article is too speculative. You have all this speculative language, like "possibly happened" and "seems like." And you draw all these speculative conclusions. We do not like it! Too much speculation."

So I am going through and deleting all of the speculative language, but keeping the speculative conclusions. Now, instead of saying, "It seems like [totally speculative thing] may have happened," it says, "And then, reader, [totally speculative thing] totally happened! For real!"


And once again, peer reviewers are going down thanks to their own sucky-ness!  YEAH!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pier review

I want also to say this:

Have you noticed how like two different peer reviewers will have totally different reactions to things?  Ok, Ok, often they both don't like the same thing.

But dudes. Often Reviewer A hates something and Reviewer B doesn't care about it, but hates something else. That happens a lot too.

I am just saying. Pier review is not all that helpful, I think we can all get behind that sentiment. But what about peer review?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

peer review is censorship

Have you ever noticed in somebody's book where in the intro they totally disavow some term/concept, like, 'there is a literature on term/concept X, and some of it is relevant to this project, but X is also totally not applicable to the cases I'm looking at, and so I would never use term/concept X, I am not going to write X never, ever.'

And then in the chapters of the book they basically prove that concept X does indeed apply to their cases. But they never use the actual term X. You know?

That's because of peer review. The peer reviewers told them to take out X. So they did--sort of.

That is totally going to be me. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Could be worse

Just to update this situation: the book manuscript suffered disaster in the wacky, wacky land beyond the Misty Mountains that is the academic publishing industry. But not nearly the worst kind of disaster.

I have heard much worse. I should not complain, really.

Things are bad for book manuscripts in the land of academic publishing.

 Yeah, that bad.

(For anyone who does not recognize that volcano, it's in Mordor. Recent conversation with CC while watching a certain HBO series:

Me: Do you know what is going on even though you did not watch the books? Do you want me to say who that guy is?

CC: No, I know.

[long pause]

CC: Is this the one where they are going to meet elves to get some kind of jewels?

Me: Uh, do you mean rings?

CC: Yes!

Me: No. This is the other one.)