Patrick Brindle & What Doctoral Researchers Need to Know About Book Publishing

Last Wednesday, the Research Hive Scholars welcomed Dr. Patrick Brindle, Publisher for Online Content at SAGE Publications, to share his expertise and advice on academic book publishing with our doctoral researchers.  After a light lunch, over thirty PhD and early career researchers gathered in the Research Hive to hear Patrick’s talk.

Patrick briefly discussed textbook and edited collection publishing, and largely focused on the practicalities of publishing academic monographs.  Patrick advised researchers to seek out publishers with the biggest lists of publications in one’s area and to approach commissioning editors early on, as they like to work with authors.  He suggested writing a 2-3 page outline of the work to test the editor’s interest, and to ask for a copy of the publisher’s proposal guidelines.

He stressed the importance of thinking like a publisher; one must think of buyership over readership, know the market, and be able to detail what sets your work apart from competing monographs that have already been published.  It is equally important to develop a sense of your audience and to write for your reader.  When writing your proposal, you will be writing for the commissioning editor, publishing managers (who will not be specialists in your field), and academic subject specialists, so it is important to balance the expectations of each.

Patrick also provided advice on how to write one’s research.  Again, it is important to think like a reader, not an author.  Everything is a story, he suggested.  Create a narrative and plant narrative signposts and benchmarks throughout the manuscript; in short, develop your argument like a persuasive story.  

He also very generously provided ample time for Q & A with the audience, who eagerly picked his brain for advice on their specific publishing circumstances.  All who attended seemed to have benefited enormously from Patrick’s expertise!

One doctoral researcher, Maria, sums up the afternoon quite well: 

I found Patrick’s talk really useful.  After having finished my PhD and published a few articles, I was particularly interested in hearing about how to publish my thesis as a monograph from a publisher’s perspective.  It was surprising to hear how poorly monographs sell, and particularly useful to learn some tips on how to gain the publisher’s attention to my work, from how to start the first contacts up to writing a proposal and finally signing a contract.  Unfortunately it seems like a more difficult an lengthy process than I thought, but while making us very aware of that, Patrick also offered us great detailed tips on how to improve our chances of success in it.
Check back with the Research Hive for future publishing workshops with SAGE!
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