How to choose a good book title

8 July 2016

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?

15 December 2015

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…

21 September 2015

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…

14 September 2015

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…

31 August 2015

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…

6 July 2015

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

12 May 2015

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


Getting to know the Channel View team: Anna

8 May 2015

In this blog post we get to know Anna, our Editorial Director, a bit better. Anna has recently returned to the office following the birth of her second daughter and subsequent maternity leave. We’re very happy to have Anna back in the office, not least because she often brings us delicious goods which she and her two girls have baked together!

Anna with her duaghters Elin and Alys

Anna with her daughters Elin and Alys

Anna has an extensive range of cookery books and likes food from around the world, so we wonder what’s the most ambitious or exotic thing you’ve ever cooked yourself?

Ha ha yes, my extensive cookery book collection, which has now grown too big for my house and is finding a second home as the Multilingual Matters cookery library! My partner and I went to Japan for 3 weeks for his 30th birthday, and after we came home I went through a stage of trying to recreate the beautiful meals we had eaten in the ryokan we stayed in – lots of beautiful, elegantly-presented one-or-two-mouthfuls of fish, tempura, vegetables… Something I’m sure no Japanese home cook would be mad enough to attempt on a regular basis, especially if you have to make everything yourself (pickles, dashi etc.) as you can’t buy them here. I don’t have a huge amount of time for adventurous cooking at the moment, as my two small daughters would happily live on spaghetti bolognese and fish fingers given the chance. Alys (3) is a very enthusiastic baking assistant though, and I do have a sourdough starter that I manage to produce a couple of loaves a week from.

I’m looking forward to borrowing a few of your cookery books from the MM library! Your Japan trip sounds pretty epic, would it be too much to ask for a single highlight from a 3 week trip? 

Funnily enough what we talk about the most is not the temples, or the bullet train, or even the food, but a little bar we stumbled across in Tokyo where the owner was an enthusiastic collector of whiskey and jazz vinyl, and we sat for hours discussing music and being allowed to try all the drinks. My favourite bar in the world, and I’d probably never be able to find it again. So either that, or the musical Christmas tree in Kyoto station!

Anna with Alys and Elin

Anna with Alys and Elin

I like the sound of the Christmas tree and agree – it’s so often the way that you can never find a place again in foreign cities! Would you like to return to Japan one day, or are there other countries which are higher up your ‘must visit’ list?

We are planning a return trip to Japan in 2020 for the Olympics. There are so many places I’d love to visit, but my dream trip would be to go all the way from London to Vladivostok via the Trans-Siberian Railway. I’ve never been to Russia and I’ve always been fascinated by it. Possibly because I watched Dr Zhivago too many times at an impressionable age!

I’ve never seen that film but it must be good if you’ve seen it several times! I’m guessing you don’t go to the cinema much now that you have children, but are there any other films that have left an impression on you, either recently or when you were younger?

One film I can remember really unsettling me when I was younger is ‘The Red Shoes’, although thinking about it I now own lots of pairs of red shoes…. I can really clearly remember my first ever trip to the cinema, to see ‘Return to Oz’ (I must have been about 4), we lived a long way from a cinema, so it was a big event. Upsettingly the last two films I saw at the cinema were ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ and ‘Postman  Pat: The Movie’, neither of which have left a lasting impression!

Ah yes, the perils of taking younger viewers to the cinema! Now for your last question of the interview, if you could choose an actress to play you in a film, who would you choose and why?

How to answer this without sounding deluded? I’d like to think it would be Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton, with Jane Russell doing the song and dance numbers!

And finally, some quick-fire questions!

High heels or trainers? High heels.
Ketchup or mustard? Mustard. Ketchup is like putting jam on your bacon sandwich.
Crosswords or sudokus? Crosswords.
Stripes or spots? Spots.
Bath or shower? Bath.
Scrambled eggs or fried eggs? Poached eggs all the way.
Printed book or ebook? Printed book.

Thanks Anna! We’re looking forward to hearing more from the rest of the team soon!


The worthwhile challenge of peer review

25 February 2015

Scholarly publishing is built on peer review –we just couldn’t survive without it. As such, it is an important part of our editorial process at Channel View Publications / Multilingual Matters. The concept of publishing something “scientific” that hasn’t been through some form of blinded approval process is quite frightening – we could be publishing completely unfounded results with wide-reaching and very serious implications (the meningitis vaccine controversy being a perfect example).

"Wikipedian Protester", by Randall Munroe (CC-BY-NC 2.5)

“Wikipedian Protester”, by Randall Munroe (CC-BY-NC 2.5)

Having said that, the nature of peer review can and does vary according to subject, format, and potentially publisher and editor too. For example, most journals will use double-blind peer review, regardless of whether social science and humanities or STM (scientific, technical and medical). Books will often use a single- or editor-review, often because the reputation of the author will have a bearing on book sales, so the publisher needs an insight into that reputation as well as reassurance that the work is academically sound. Some more applied or practitioner journals will use editor review only (see the glossary for more explanation of these terms). In all cases reviewers are expected to highlight any potential or actual problems and make a recommendation to the editor. They are not expected to replicate results, make direct changes to the manuscript or prove any suspected misconduct, but they are expected to comment on factors such as originality, coverage, relevance and structure.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/6735929719/(CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Source: Flickr 

Peer review is under a lot of scrutiny at the moment – and there’s good reason. It isn’t a perfect system, and most people in the industry can tell a tale of peer review gone wrong (see http://retractionwatch.com/ for some recent examples). With the number of working-paper repositories in existence now, a determined reviewer can probably find out an author’s identity. Reviewing isn’t typically taught, so early-career researchers tend to hone their reviewing skills through trial and error. Editors say finding good reviewers is getting harder due to increasing pressures on researcher’s time. Reviewing is an often unpaid, often unacknowledged part of academic life, but it’s expected of every researcher. As pressures on academics grow, it stands to reason that some will simply stop doing what they’re not rewarded for. But out of discontent comes innovation, and there is certainly innovation and experimentation going on in peer review at the moment. Some publishers are publishing the reviews along with the finished article (including the reviewer’s names). Some allow comments and post-publication review on their platforms. Some publishers obligate their authors to do a minimum number of reviews. Companies are building systems to track and prove peer review has occurred (see http://pre-val.org/).

At Channel View Publications / Multilingual Matters we agree that peer review is of huge importance, and we won’t publish anything that hasn’t been through a minimum of single-blind peer review – and some manuscripts are rejected following review. The books that go on to be published can change dramatically after peer review – many of our authors comment how useful they found the process and how much their manuscript improved following review. We pay our reviewers in cash or books – we acknowledge this is an important and very valuable job that takes time, care and expertise, and we think they should be rewarded for that. Reviewers are also always sent a free copy of the book they reviewed when published so they can see the results of their hard work. We really appreciate our reviewers – so to those of you that have read and commented on a proposal or a draft manuscript, whether this year or ten years ago, thank you so much! We couldn’t do it without you.

Glossary:

  • Desk reject: a submission is rejected before any review has taken place (usually this is when a submission is completely irrelevant or inappropriate for the publication)
  • Double-blind: The author doesn’t know who the reviewer is, and the reviewer doesn’t know who the author is.
  • Editor Review: the editor reviews the submission without the assistance of another reader
  • Open Review: Neither the reviewer nor the author are anonymous
  • Pre-publication review: peer review done before publication
  • Post-publication review: peer review done after publication, usually in an open online forum
  • The terms reader, referee and reviewer are interchangeable
  • Single-blind: The author doesn’t know who the reviewer is, but the reviewer is aware of the author’s identity.

Kim


Introducing our new book series ‘Language, Mobility and Institutions’

11 November 2013

To tie in with the publication of the first books in our new series, the series editors Melissa Moyer (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) and Celia Roberts (King’s College  London) have written this post presenting the series.

We are very happy to introduce this new series on ‘Language, Mobility and Institutions’. The theme of this series and the manuscripts we seek to publish address a new sociolinguistic reality brought about by globalization. This worldwide social process challenges researchers dealing with language to adopt innovative perspectives in order to provide an improved understanding of how language is implicated in the various institutions of society. ‘Institutions’ in the title of the series is not just limited to established social, administrative, political or economic entities in the public, private or non-governmental sector but also to sites and contexts where institutionalized practices are produced and reproduced in the daily undertakings of people who move around the world.

Communicative Practices at Work

The first books in the new series are being published this autumn. We hope these will be the first of many which aim to link the experience of being mobile with the institutional responses to increasing diversity. Institutions, understood in a wide sense, are grappling with the conundrum of national or institutional ideologies which assume standardization or homogenous ways of thinking in situations of superdiversity. Meanwhile, migrants see their social and cultural capital leeching away or look for ways to resist and develop alternative strategies to gain agency and cope with inequality and social exclusion.

Sitting on the train in any major city in the world, it is commonplace to hear five or six different languages in a carriage. In everyday life multilingualism is a banal event. But how does this play out in institutions? Much of the time, it is swept under the carpet as a largely unrecognised and rarely remunerated workforce of multilingual people is expected to act as interpreters and translators. At the same time, linguistic gatekeepers are at work in selection panels, designing an oh-so-narrow gate for the few to pass through.

The present series seeks to bring forth the innovative ways people are pushing at these very gates which are being safeguarded by powerful institutions and how they are finding creative ways of contesting exclusionary practices by setting up their own businesses. Similarly, some organisations are championing communicative flexibility within their own workforces.

Language, Migration and Social Inequalities

And this is one of the themes of Jo Anne Kleifgen’s book which was published last week. Communicative Practices at Work is an ethnographic and sociolinguistic account of how one US firm is drawing on the multilingual and multimodal resources of its staff. In November Language, Migration and Social Inequalities edited by Alexandre Duchêne, Melissa Moyer and Celia Roberts takes a critical look at sites of control, selection and resistance across settings in Europe, Africa and Australia.

Both these books draw the reader into research sites quite far removed from the majority of books on sociolinguistics which tend to focus on language rights, education or local communities. With this new series, workplace settings such as high-tech factories, the marketplaces of South Africa or the world of the airline stewardess are explored. Similarly, light is shed on the backstage work of institutions where language use is negotiated as migrants’ lives are made bureaucratically processable.

We are finding the editorship of this series a pretty exciting experience since any one aspect of language, mobility and institutions is nested in wider contexts, discourses and interactions. Local and national politics, the forces of the neo-liberal economy, the multiple networks of migrant groups and the contact they maintain with their countries of origin and transit are all part of the tangled web which has language as its centre.

We welcome manuscripts or book projects that presents research that would contribute to the widely defined themes of the present series. If you think you have a proposal to make then do get in touch with Anna Roderick at Multilingual Matters and we will get back to you soon.

Celia and Melissa


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