Behind the Scenes… What Happens to an Accepted Manuscript?

Once a manuscript has undergone external peer review, been suitably revised by the author and is approved for publication by the series editors (where relevant), it is accepted for publication. We then ask the author to complete an author questionnaire and checklist and start to get the manuscript moving towards production. But what are we doing exactly? In this post, Laura outlines the small but vital stages between editorial and production.

Commissioning Editors with books from their respective series

The first thing a Commissioning Editor does is book a slot on our production schedule. Each month we publish a certain number of books, typically between 4 and 6, so there are a limited number of places available. The Commissioning Editor will most likely have already provisionally pencilled in the manuscript well in advance of it being accepted, using their knowledge about the extent of the revisions required and how busy the author and series editors’ schedules are. But it is only now that a publication date is set and finalised. At this point it is therefore extremely helpful to us if authors keep to deadlines they have promised!

Once the Commissioning Editor has received all the final files and supporting documents, they will check through the manuscript one last time. They ensure that the author has submitted all the documents (table of contents, each chapter, references, appendices etc) and confirm that permission has been cleared for all material from external sources. They will then update the book’s proposal P&L with the latest word count, as we use this to estimate the pagination and price.

The book is then ready for the Commissioning Editor to schedule for discussion at the next in-house editorial meeting, usually held weekly. For those of us not involved in the book until this stage, this might be the first we’ve heard of it since the proposal was accepted, often some years previously! At the meeting we discuss and approve the title; make a final decision about the format (whether it will be published in paperback and hardback simultaneously) and approximate the print run.

With all of the above finalised, the Commissioning Editor is now ready to hand the book over for production and marketing. In order to make the handover process a smooth one and to help impart as much of their knowledge about the work to the rest of us as possible, they complete a handover sheet. The handover sheet splits naturally into three sections: key details about the work, then a production section, followed by marketing information.

The key details section is where we store absolute final information about the book, mainly what we decided on at the editorial meeting. It is where we look if we cannot remember whether we did decide to remove a comma from a title or exactly which subtitle we eventually chose! It is therefore like gold dust as it is vital that we are consistent, once we have made a decision: as soon as data starts to leave our database, it is sometime hard to find where it has gone and overwrite it.

Sarah, our Production Manager, hard at work

Next comes the production section where the Commissioning Editor will tell Sarah, our Production Manager, and Flo, who does the covers, information about the book. Sections include whether there is a preference for British or another variety of English; if the author already has a particular idea for the cover and if we have agreed anything special with the author, perhaps with regard to the layout or format. We also tell Sarah about what she might expect when working with the author. This includes things such as if one is taking the lead (in the case of multiple authors) or whether we know the author is about to go on leave. This is important as production runs to deadlines which are much firmer than those in editorial often are.

Finally comes the marketing parts of the handover. The Commissioning Editor writes the blurbs, suggests subject categories and says who to approach for cover endorsements. They will also advise the marketing department on the book’s highlights; note any geographical contexts featured in the book (which might be helpful for our local sales reps); list which of our other books it links with and state any other key selling points of the work. They will also let us know any bright ideas they have for any special, out-of-the-ordinary marketing!

We find that handing a manuscript over in this way works really well. Ultimately, the Commissioning Editor is the person in the office who knows most about the book and the more of their knowledge they can share with the rest of us, the more likely we are to have a smooth, enjoyable and successful publication.

Laura

Multilingual Matters at the International Symposium on Bilingualism 2017

Earlier this month, Anna and Laura left Bristol in the midst of a heatwave for rainy Ireland and the biennial International Symposium on Bilingualism, which was hosted this year by the University of Limerick. In this post Laura tells us what they got up to.

A very busy coffee break

The theme of the International Symposium on Bilingualism conference this year was ‘Bilingualism, Multilingualism and the New Speaker’ and delegates enjoyed a packed schedule of presentations, either linked directly to the theme or to any other aspect of bilingualism and multilingualism research. Clearly the topic of the conference lies right at the heart of Multilingual Matters and we were pleased that there was plenty of interest in our books. So much so that we often had a queue of keen customers at the stand during the breaks and were very glad to have each other to share the workload.

Naturally, the 6th edition of our bestselling textbook, Foundations of Bilingualism and Bilingualism by Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright, was a popular choice but it was matched in popularity by New Perspectives on Translanguaging and Education, edited by BethAnne Paulsrud, Jenny Rosén, Boglárka Straszer and Åsa Wedin. All the authors of other bestsellers, Raising Multilingual Children, by Julia Festman, Gregory J. Poarch and Jean-Marc Dewaele and Beyond Age Effects in Instructional L2 Learning by Simone E. Pfenninger and David Singleton, were present to talk to readers about their work. Another hot title was New Insights into Language Anxiety edited by Christina Gkonou, Mark Daubney and Jean-Marc Dewaele, who was one of the keynote speakers.

Accompanying Jean-Marc Dewaele as other plenary speakers were Ana Deumert, Alexandre Duchêne, Elizabeth Lanza, Tina Hickey and Lisa Lim. The keynotes were all very well-attended and we were glad to be able to slip away from a quiet stand in order to hear them.

Laura and Anna putting their free conference umbrellas to good use

Aside from the packed academic schedule, delegates were treated to a drinks reception, Irish BBQ with traditional Irish music and dancing and a Gala Dinner, featuring a live band and welcoming dance floor. Needless to say, we returned home utterly exhausted from an excellent and enjoyable conference and already looking forward to the next one in Canada in 2019!

Why do we publish some of our books in hardback only?

As a small, independent publisher we are fortunate that most of our publishing decisions can come from the heart (‘do I like this book?’ ‘is it important?’ ‘is it new?’) rather than the head (‘will it make money for our shareholders?’ ‘will it help me hit targets?’). However one of the downsides of being such a small operation is that our margins for error are not huge, and when things go wrong, or the market takes a downturn, we don’t have a large university or a multinational conglomerate to cushion us: we stand or fall by the quality of the books we’ve published recently and the number of people prepared to buy them.

Laura, Anna and Tommi at AAAL selling all our books, both paperbacks AND hardbacks, at the same discount price

Until relatively recently we were unusual in publishing virtually all of our books in both paperback and hardback, with the paperbacks appearing at the same time as the hardbacks. If money were no object this is undoubtedly how we would choose to publish our books: making quality research widely available is why we do what we do, and publishing any other way is a wrench for us. I hate telling authors that they aren’t getting a paperback of their books, and none of us like to stand behind a conference table and hear how students can’t afford to buy our books. There’s little joy in publishing if your audience is small and getting smaller.

But about 18 months ago we were hit by the perfect storm of the continuing effects of the financial crisis on both library and individual budgets, increasing costs, and library ebook deals which meant that we were often receiving a tiny percentage of the income we did 10 years ago for providing the same product. In effect, large numbers of our books were no longer selling enough to cover our costs in producing them, let alone make us a profit. We were faced with a decision: do we throw our hands up, accept that there is no longer a role for independent academic publishers, and go and do something else? Or do we make changes to ensure that most of the books we publish at least pay their own way? And it’s sad but true that it’s easier for us to cover our costs on a book where we sell 80 hardback copies than where we sell 30 hardbacks and 100 paperbacks.

We recognise that this means we are producing books that are unaffordable for some people who might want to buy them – what do we do to try and make our books as affordable as we can?

  • We still publish over half our titles in paperback and hardback simultaneously.
  • We offer many and varied discounts and promotions. Anyone who has ever written for us is entitled to a permanent 50% discount on everything we publish.
  • When only a hardback is available, we price the ebook as if there were a paperback – not all publishers do this.
  • We offer substantial discounts at conferences, bigger than those of most of our competitors.
  • We review all of our books 6 months after publication and if sales of either the hardback or the ebook suggest that there might be a bigger market than we anticipated, we produce a paperback. We also take into account feedback from readers, librarians and our sales reps: if enough people are asking for a paperback, we produce one.
  • We keep prices down on our most popular books, rather than charging as much as we could for books that readers have to buy for courses or to keep their own work up-to-date.
Some recent titles originally published in hardback only that we’ve decided to bring out in paperback

As an author, you can give your book the best possible chance of being published in paperback by keeping the widest possible (realistic!) audience in mind when writing – might your research be of interest to teachers, policy-makers, parents? Are you writing to make your research accessible to scholars from other disciplines? Are you linking your research to wider debates so it will be of interest to readers not specifically working in your particular research context? When the book is written, let us know if there are specific courses that might use your book. And after the book is published, pass on feedback to us – if people are asking you for a paperback, tell them to ask us.

We’re always very happy to discuss any ideas our authors and customers might have for making our books more affordably or widely available. Please get in touch with me if you have any thoughts! Every decision to publish a book in hardback only is accompanied by a good deal of soul-searching in the CVP/MM office, but I do believe that if we are to continue to publish important books, to innovate and lead the field, and to be a small force for good in the world, we do sometimes have to take hard decisions.

Anna

If you have any thoughts about this blog post, please do get in touch with us at info@channelviewpublications.com.

How to choose a good book title

Picking a good title for an academic book is vital for getting your work seen by other researchers in your field. Good academic titles reveal not only the topic but also an idea of the specific approach, argument or area of discussion. This post provides a helpful guide to choosing a title for your academic monograph.

First of all, remember that keywords are crucial. Think about the key terms you use throughout your work and make sure they’re included in the title. Make sure these keywords are also used throughout the book, in chapter headings and in the book blurbs.

Think about what search terms people would use if they were searching for your book and make sure you include these. Start by googling your potential title. If there are not many results this might mean that the terms you are using are not in common usage and therefore are best avoided. However, if there are many results be sure to check that there are no other books, papers or journals with the same title as yours as this will only cause confusion. In short, you want to get an idea of whether people are already searching for the keywords you’re using. Make sure the results that come up in your search are in the right discipline.

There is a difference between the main title and the subtitle. Sometimes books are only cited by the main title not the subtitle so make sure you’re not hiding any key information in the subtitle. The subtitle can contain more specific information such as the region or the kind of approach used which is not essential to the overall topic of the book. The specifics of the context, the precise languages covered or the specific participants of the study can be detailed in the blurb and the book. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in the title of the book.

Use clear and concise language to describe the topic of the book. Don’t use obscure academic terminology or jargon which isn’t widely known in the field. Remember, booksellers are not always experts in your field so the title needs to be clear to those who only have a broad understanding of the topic. Equally, if you’re coining a new term or phase in your book, it might be best to avoid using this in the main title as it won’t be known to many people and they won’t use it as a search term to find the book. Avoid using a clever or funny phrase as a title. Although it might mean something to you, out of context it won’t mean anything to anyone else and it won’t accurately convey the content of the book. Many people think an alliterative or quirky title is more appealing but really this is not appropriate for an academic audience and it is best to just focus on making the content clear.

Remember that the book title is sometimes the only thing a potential reader will see before making a decision as to whether to find out more. Make sure it is attractive to researchers in your field without being misleading or ambiguous. There’s so much research out there you want to make yours memorable so that readers realise it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Good book titles
Examples of good book titles

Good examples of academic book titles:

  • Complexity in Classroom Foreign Language Learning Motivation: A Practitioner Perspective from Japan – This displays the overall topic as well as the specifics of the author’s context.
  • Multilingual Perspectives on Child Language Disorders –This clearly depicts the area covered and the perspectives taken.
  • The Linguistic Landscape of Chinatown: A Sociolinguistic Ethnography – As well as a clear main title, the subtitle here clarifies the approach taken.

Bad examples of academic book titles:

  • Language and Society – This is too broad and does not show what aspects of language and society are being explored.
  • Discover, Discuss, Debate: Investigating Language Use in the Multilingual Classroom – Although the main title might sound snappy and appealing it actually tells you nothing about the book and in fact, the subtitle would make a much better main title.

Key tips

  • Use as many keywords as possible in the title, preferably ones that you have also used throughout the book.
  • Think about the search terms that potential readers would use when searching for your book and include those in the title.
  • You need to remember that sometimes all the information a potential reader will have about your book is the title. If that isn’t enough to sell it, you’ve missed your chance.
  • Don’t use obscure or incomprehensible language or technical jargon.
  • Don’t be vague, anything with multiple meanings that could be misconstrued or misunderstood should be avoided.

Why publish with us?

With academic publishing becoming more competitive, we need to fight to keep our place among the larger publishers. We are proud of our independent status and of the values that we represent. This post gives a bit more detail about why authors should choose Multilingual Matters/Channel View Publications as their publisher.

The MM/CV team
The MM/CV team

We are a small, independent company wholly owned by our Managing Director, Tommi Grover, his brother Sami and the staff who work for Multilingual Matters/Channel View Publications. This means our publishing decisions are made by and for people with a knowledge of, and passion for, languages, multilingualism and tourism studies. We are free to publish books we believe in and to treat our authors, customers and staff with integrity, as ultimately we answer to people who care about the areas we publish in, rather than to people who are uninvolved in the day-to-day running of the company and are more concerned with profits.

Publishing with us is a positive choice to support an independent, ethical company, and a responsive, compassionate way of doing business. Publishing with us doesn’t mean you can expect ‘less’ than from a bigger publisher – in fact we’d suggest you should expect more from us:

  • Because our staff feel valued and cared for, they stay for a long time. So it’s highly likely you will deal with the same person from proposal to publication and beyond. All 7 of us are involved in the decision to publish every book, and so whoever you speak to will know about you, your book, and why it’s important.
  • We travel a lot (and we were off-setting our carbon footprint before it was fashionable). This means your books will be seen by people all over the world, and that our staff are at specialist conferences where they meet new authors and customers. In the past year our team of 7 has been to: New Zealand, Japan, the US (lots of times), Canada, France, Poland, Australia, Sweden, Lapland, Germany, Italy and several UK conferences (and this has been a quiet year on the conference front!).
  • We offer open access publishing; everything we publish is available as consumer ebooks; and we continue to publish as much as we can as affordable paperbacks.
  • We are proud of the help and support we offer authors publishing their first book: we have been doing this for years, and we do it because we believe in developing new talent and new ideas, not because we need manuscripts to pad out our publication program. Our first-time authors receive the same care and attention as their more experienced colleagues.
  • We are constantly looking out for new topics and ideas and we are pleased to be often the first publisher to take a risk in a new and emerging subject area.

We hope that you find this useful. If you would like further information about sending us a proposal please see the proposal guidelines on our website.

If you are still working on your PhD but think that you would like to rework it for a book then please see our notes on turning your PhD thesis into a book.

A-Z of Publishing: S is for…

S is for SeriesS is for Series. Most of our books are published in a series. On the Channel View side of the company, we have 4 series: our well established ‘Aspects of Tourism’ and ‘Tourism and Cultural Change’ series, plus our ‘Aspects of Tourism Texts’ series and the new series ‘Tourism Essentials’. Multilingual Matters has too many series to list individually (!) but the bigger ones include ‘Bilingual Education and Bilingualism’, ‘Second Language Acquisition’ and ‘New Perspectives on Language and Education’. You can find a full list and more information on the series tab on our website.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.

A-Z of Publishing: R is for…

R is for Review ProcessR is for Review Process. The review process is central to our publications and a matter that we are very strict on. We pride ourselves on publishing quality academic research that has been thoroughly reviewed. All of our publications are peer-reviewed, be that by one or more external peers, a series editor or both. We believe that it is fair to compensate our reviewers appropriately for the time that they find to do these jobs for us, either in the form of payment, a quota of free books, or royalties, in the case of series editors.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.

A-Z of Publishing: P is for…

P is for ProposalsP is for Proposals. When we consider a potential work for publication, we ask the author(s) or editor(s) to send us a book proposal outlining the work to us. The book proposal is a really important document because it gives us information about the authors and the work itself, as well as details about the book’s structure, an idea of where it might fit with our other publications and how long it is expected to be. We discuss book proposals at our fortnightly editorial meeting and send successful proposals on to series editors. The process is pretty straightforward and we hope to be able to give potential authors some feedback on their proposed work pretty quickly, usually within just a couple of weeks. For more information just see our proposal guidelines.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.

A-Z of Publishing: H is for…

H is for HardbackH is for Hardback. All our books are available as hardbacks, library ebooks and consumer ebooks. The majority of our books are simultaneously published as a paperback as well. On occasions when we decide to print only a hardback edition of a work then we ensure that the price of the consumer ebook is roughly comparable to that of a paperback or even less. We hope that this helps as many readers as possible to access our publications by some means or other.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.

Turning a PhD into a book

Here at Channel View Publications we’re very proud of our track record of publishing successful books based on PhD theses. Finding and developing young authors is central to what we do, and both we and our series editors are happy to work with authors who have recently finished their theses to turn their work into a book.

Unlike publishers who will republish PhD theses largely as they are (with no real expectation of them gaining an audience), we do ask our authors to do a significant amount of re-thinking and re-writing before we will publish their PhD research: we don’t believe it is in anyone’s interest to publish books which no-one buys or reads! Equally the work of early-career researchers is not just padding for our list, and so you can rest assured that if you do the work on your manuscript, we will match it by giving your book the time and attention it deserves.

Examples of recent Phd-to-book transitions
Examples of recent Phd-to-book transitions

When we discuss a proposal we always prefer to see that the author has understood the level of rewriting that will probably be needed before publication. So a good first step is to contact the commissioning editor or academic editor of the series you think your manuscript would be most suitable for, and discuss it with them. You might also find it useful to have a look at a few successful PhD-to-book transitions that we have published recently.

There are a few main things you’ll need to think about:

Audience You need to consider the change in your audience, and what they might be looking for in your text: PhD examiners and supervisors are looking for a demonstration that you understand how to do research, that you’ve read everything you need to, and that you can write up a piece of research diligently; book-buyers need to be drawn in and encouraged to make connections between your work on a community/topic that may be of no particular interest to them and their own interests.

Content Your readers should be familiar with the literature (or most of it!) and they’ll assume that you are too, so your literature review can be cut down considerably. Similarly, they’ll assume that you know how to conduct research, so you don’t need a long discussion of methodology, unless methodological concerns are particularly important. Do you need all those tables and appendices? Are they there to demonstrate that you haven’t missed anything, or will your readers find them enlightening?

Style and structure Could you start presenting your data right at the beginning of the book? It’s your new material that your readers are likely to be interested in, so give it to them! Can your work be restructured and ordered thematically rather than introduction-literature review-methodology-data-conclusion? Does your writing style need lightening to draw in the maximum possible audience?

When you’ve just defended your thesis and are more than ready to move on to something new, we understand that the idea of revisiting it can be off-putting, to say the least. But we’ll be there to support you every step of the way to publication and beyond…

You can find our proposal guidelines on our website.

Anna