Following on from Part 1, Dr. Anna Arrowsmith explains what happened between signing with Ashgate and publishing her book. You can find Rethinking Misogyny: Men’s Perceptions of Female Power in Dating Relationships in the library, at HC 6400 ARR!
How I Got My Thesis Published, Pt. 2
By Dr. Anna Arrowsmith
While negotiating for some changes to my contract regarding royalties, I began editing my PhD down to a book; an edit that basically went thus:
- Cut out 80% of literature review, either remove it or intersperse it into the data chapters where relevant if it is key. I did keep some explanations of masculinity theory up front precisely because I was arguing for a change in the way we theorise men, so I needed a brief outline of the major points I was to counter later in the book.
- Cut down the methodology to a couple of paragraphs outlining what you did, just enough to look like you are not hiding anything.
- I kept my three data chapters and conclusion as is, with the exception of the added lit review bits I added previously.
The publishers came back after Christmas with a list of changes, most of which I agreed with. They wanted some current stuff added to the introduction, stuff that was happening in our culture, which really made the book feel even more contemporary. They also wanted me to remove one section of the conclusion because it focussed on the murderer Elliot Rodgers, which might alienate some readers. I was fine with that so I replaced him with an even better example of Julian Blanc, a pick up artist who was being pushed from pillar to post worldwide because nobody wanted him to stay in their country. At this stage I was still writing the content of the book, which is right. I wouldn’t assume a book is finished content-wise until the second draft is in.
I was contractually obliged to compile the index of my book, which took some time, as I couldn’t electronically search the PDF for some reason. This involved reading the book and highlighting key terms and theorists, then going back and typing a list of them alongside each page a term appears on. Arduous work.
Right up until the night before book went off to print, I was liaising with the publishers over details and corrections and I was very pleased to be working with a producer who was very polite and respectful of my work. At no point did I feel they were rough riding over anything, I was consulted about any changes, even if they appeared self-evidently necessary. This is a sign of a good publisher I believe, they were fun to work with and none of it (index excluded) felt like a chore. I also got to know my text a lot better through hearing it interpreted by other people.
Finally, I would just add that I had an idea for the cover image for the book and I went to istock photo to find some free sample images, which I sent to Ashgate, assuming they would push them back. I wanted to use a cactus to represent both the hard masculine performance (spikes) often used by men to cover up for a softer emotional reality (soft flesh) and also as a metaphor of the subject matter being a thorny subject. To my pleasure Ashgate liked the image and used one I bought the rights to for about £30. I tell you this because I knew I no right to demand to design the cover as per contract, but I thought I would give it a try and it worked! If you have similar ideas for images and you make it easy for the publishers by sourcing the image yourself, you might well be in the same situation. More importantly you will have avoided those god-awful abstract images that often grace the covers of academic works. The only down side was they insisted in printing it in black and white, which lost the greenness of the flesh which I thought represented something of men’s new journey at this time, but you cant have it all.
I am now in the process of trying to get a gender-themed book published for the mainstream industry, who require an agent to approach them. This is proving ten times more difficult than the academic market and it is only now I realise how lucky I have been to go from first contact to publication within a year. If you have similar aspirations I advise you to publish your thesis first as in my experience, academic publishers know what they want and don’t give you too much abstract advice that is hard to actualise. If you think academic writing is hard, try writing your subject area for the non-academic market, that is truly taxing and something I would still gladly take advice on…
If you would like to read more blogs from me on the subject of gender please check out www.annaarrowsmith.com