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Publishing and marketing your scholarly book

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Ashley Stewart, student blogger at Congress 2015

At Congress 2015, publishers from across Canada joined academics in a Career Corner panel discussion on publishing and marketing your scholarly book. The publishers spoke passionately about books and provided practical tips and advice, especially for scholars looking to publish their first book.

The different types of scholarly publishers in Canada range from university presses to large, multi-national textbook publishers, trade publishers, small literary presses, and hybrid publishers that publish both trade and academic work. Emily Andrew from UBC Press commented that early academics usually publish with a university press first and it’s a good opportunity to “help you get ahead in your career.”

Jessica Clark spoke about the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP), which provides financial support for the publication and translation of scholarly books. Usually, the publisher will work with authors through the application process and provide feedback and advice, but a small number of authors do directly apply for funding.

Writing a good proposal is key to having your work accepted. The greatest challenge of moving from your dissertation to publishing a book is generating the narrative element that characterizes books. Publishers look for the narrative hook because that is what draws readers in. There is a big difference between writing for your committee, which is paid to read your work, and the audience that will pay to read your book.

The publishers spoke about the reality of having to extensively re-write your work, especially the introduction and conclusion, to achieve the narrative element. Authors will need to develop the content so that it “leads the reader through the book.” Each chapter flows into the next, so by the time you finish chapter two, you know what chapter three will be about. A successful narrative structure will translate into a good sense of flow for the reader.

Bruce Walsh spoke passionately about the role that the University of Regina Press plays in Canadian publishing. As a hybrid press that focuses on both scholarly and trade work, it chooses scholars who are also writers. These are people who can communicate with a larger audience through accessible language and inspire students to study the humanities. Check out what they’ve published so far and you’ll see their valuable contribution to Canadian scholarship.

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Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2015Award to Scholarly Publications Program