Peer Review Week 2018

This week is Peer Review Week, an event which aims to promote the vital importance of good peer review in scholarly communications. Peer review is central to what we do as academic publishers, and over the years we’ve written about this topic on the blog a number of times. In celebration of Peer Review Week, here are three of our top blog posts on the subject…

The Worthwhile Challenge of Peer Review

A post giving an overview of what peer review is and why we need it, and how the peer review process works here at Channel View/Multilingual Matters.

Peer Review Guidelines

Peer review is central to academic publishing, yet many academics receive no training on how to do it. In this post our Editorial Director, Anna, offers some guidance on the whats, hows, dos and don’ts of peer review.

Peer Review and the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

A post by one of the editors of our Aspects of Tourism series, Chris Cooper, in which he discusses why scholarly peer review is so important when assessing research.

For more information about Peer Review Week, check out the website here.

Top 10 Tips for Filling in Your Author Questionnaire

Anyone that publishes with us will be asked to submit an important document along with their final manuscript – the author questionnaire. In this post we share our top 10 tips for filling it in. 

We look at your AQ in our monthly marketing meeting and use it as a basis for your book’s marketing plan

Your author questionnaire is the place to include all information about your book, including key selling points, ideas for marketing and any marketing contacts you might already have. It’s the starting point for creating our marketing plan for your book so the more information you can provide, the more we can do to promote your book.

  1. Contact details. Please including postal and email addresses for yourself and your co-authors and co-editors. We need to contact you and your co-authors throughout the process and it is helpful to have all your details at the start.
  2. Unique selling points. These help us to focus on what booksellers and customers will find interesting about your book and what makes it different from existing titles. The more points you can provide, the more attractive your book will be.
  3. Readership. Please provide detailed information about the subject interests and level of readers for your book, for example, undergraduate students of sociolinguistics, postgraduate students working in cultural studies or academic researchers interested in tourism and religion. We are looking for information on the main target audience so please don’t include the general reader unless your book is likely to have a large mainstream audience.
  4. Keywords. Think about the sort of search terms people might use when looking for your book. These terms are entered into our database and they are sent out in our data feed to booksellers and retailers.
  5. Conferences. If you’re going to be speaking at or attending a conference, please let us know. We will always try to arrange for publicity for your book to be sent to relevant conferences, particularly if you are giving a talk. It is helpful for us to have as much notice as possible to organise this as it can sometimes take a while to ship books and publicity materials to international conferences.
  6. Social networks. Your own contacts and networks are an invaluable resource. You can post about your book on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites so that your friends and colleagues know that your book is coming out soon. A few months before publication we will send you a special discount code for preorders so you can encourage people to order the book.
  7. Personal contacts. Please let us know if you have any specific contacts in any national or international media (newspapers, magazines, radio etc) who are likely to review or feature your book. This may not be relevant for all books, but if your book is related to a topic that is often covered in the news then it might be picked up. Similarly, please list any details of relevant organisations, groups or societies which might be interested in your book.
  8. Book prizes. If your book is eligible for any prizes or awards, please let us know. We are always happy to enter your book providing it meets all the entry criteria.
  9. Complimentary copies. We are happy to send up to 5 hard copies and 5 ebooks of your book to people of your choice. We usually suggest that you list influential people in your field who will be interested in your work and may help promote it, but really the choice is yours!
  10. Any other marketing ideas? If you have any other ideas for marketing your book, we are always happy to work with you on these. Just provide any suggestions you might have along with relevant details on the questionnaire and we’ll do our best to make it happen!

If you have any other queries about your author questionnaire, please contact your commissioning editor.

 

Peer Review and the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

In this blog post, one of the editors of our Aspects of Tourism series, Chris Cooper, discusses peer review, writing books and chapters and research assessment exercises.

I am embarrassed to say that this is my first ever blog post, and that is only because I was persuaded by Sarah at Channel View to write on peer review over a very nice lunch at the Trout Inn by the river in Oxford! This followed a discussion on the fact that career academics are often dissuaded from writing books or book chapters because they are not seen as being peer reviewed and therefore do not count in any research assessment exercise such as the UK REF (Research Excellence Framework).

This is a simple fact of working in higher education in the 20th century; governments are looking for value for money from the investment they make in higher education and they do this by assessing an institution’s research – and funding then flows from that assessment. Logically then for a Dean or Head of Department their research funding depends upon the quality and productivity of published research from their academics and so they persuade their researchers to publish in top, peer-reviewed journals because they generate the most cash for the department. Which brings us to the conundrum: what is the best approach for an academic? Quantity of publication or quality of publications? As a former dean and head of department the answer is simple – quality – and lots of it!

So why is scholarly peer review so important when assessing research? It submits a publication to the scrutiny of other experts in the field, often part of a community of practice of say tourism, hospitality or event management. Following the review (which is advisory) editors then make the decision to publish, reject or ask for changes. The process is normally anonymous and can be done by one, two or three persons, but not usually more than that.

Scholarly peer review has become the gold standard for assessing research outputs and is most commonly used in journal publishing – but it is not without its critics. They say that the process can suffer from unconscious bias and where reviewers are chosen from a community of practice, the use of the peer review process strengthens the status quo and suppresses new ideas, innovation and creativity. And of course, like any process, it is open to abuse. Finally, with the advent of technology new approaches to scholarly peer review are emerging, including the use of social media to crowd source or have open peer reviewing.

So scholarly peer review is important, but it is less overt in book publishing than in journals, hence the in-built bias of research exercise assessments against books and for journals. For example, in the 2014 UK REF the business panel received 353 books/chapters to assess set against 11,660 journal papers, whilst the Sport, Exercise Science and Tourism panel received only 76 books/chapters and 2,685 journal papers to assess.

A number of commentators on the 2014 REF have called for a more sympathetic consideration of books and chapters. I believe that if publishers follow – and overtly publicise – a scholarly peer review approach, then books and chapters will be taken seriously in research assessment exercises and we will begin to change the views of academic managers of their value. In Channel View’s Aspects of Tourism series for example, the commissioning editors always use peer review of manuscripts and also scrutinise initial proposals carefully to preempt reviewers’ comments where possible. The peer review process is rigorous and many books in the series have gone back for revision following reviewers’ comments. So, use of the scholarly review process by academic book publishers could enhance the perceived academic value of books and chapters, so making them more acceptable to academic managers and boosting the funding to departments.

Chris Cooper, Oxford, June 2018

We are currently in the process of developing a peer review certification – watch this space! If you found this interesting, you might also enjoy our blog post Peer Review Guidelines.

Meet our New Intern, Callum

In February this year Callum joined the Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters team as our new publishing intern. In this post we find out a bit more about him and his work in the world of books and publishing.

What were you doing before you joined us?

Callum at this year’s London Book Fair

I was working as a bookseller for Foyles and as assistant editor for The Cardiff Review, both of which I’m still doing.

Have you always wanted to work in the world of books?

I suppose so, though as a younger teenager I didn’t really read. When I was very young I had visions of being an author which was, I think, just because I didn’t like doing anything much that involved going outside, and to me an author’s life was probably spent indoors, at home, doodling or something similarly inactive. Between the ages of 10 and maybe 16/17 I wasn’t interested in reading at all and only began to come back to books in sixth form and at university (which is lucky, because I was studying English Literature). Since then I figured I may as well play to my strengths, which seem to be in books. So that led to bookselling more than once, working with The Cardiff Review, and now working with Channel View.

What attracted you to the internship initially?

A paid internship is (unfortunately) a rather rare thing. An internship in publishing based outside London is even rarer. I had been looking for experience in publishing for a little while but, like many people, it’s not always the easiest path to follow, short of uprooting your life to relocate and take a hit on your savings. So finding the position at Channel View was a stroke of luck. Also, I think it’s a credit to Channel View that they do run paid internships, when many much larger publishers who I won’t name do not pay their interns. I also liked the idea of working for a small independent business, because it tends to be a more friendly and flexible environment – which has turned out to be the case. Plus I’ll take any excuse to stay in Bristol.

Is publishing what you expected? Are there any surprises?

It actually is pretty much what I expected. Though ideas I had of publishing were usually based on my familiarity with trade publishing, which is obviously a whole different can of worms. Seeing things from the other side of the supply chain in some ways felt like peering behind the curtain. But most of the surprises came from the differences between trade and academic. For example, I had a decent knowledge of the way proofs and advanced reading copies work (from asking publishers for them many times…) but it hadn’t occurred to me that inspection copies would be such a large part of promoting academic books, though it seems obvious now.

Print books or ebooks? What are you reading at the moment?

Queen’s University in Toronto, where Callum studied

Print books, obviously. I have nothing against ebooks but I am a bit of a materialist at heart. Print books are just nice objects and if nothing else a good kind of furnishing for a flat. Even when I was studying in Canada I ended up just throwing away clothes so that I could bring books back on the flight. Naomi Klein’s door-stop of a book This Changes Everything singlehandedly put my bag several pounds over the limit, so that sat on my lap throughout the flight. Though I do wish I had an e-reader specifically for magazines and journals because I don’t really feel the same way about them as objects to collect and they build up rather quickly.

Right now I’m reading a book called My Documents by the Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra. It’s a short story collection published by Fitzcarraldo, who are an amazing publisher that I have a lot of admiration for. I have been putting off reading this one for a while after being recommended it but since I picked it up two days ago I haven’t been able to stop reading it. I’m also reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, but that’s going a little more slowly, as it’s quite big and rather dense – but I’m enjoying it. And I also read a couple of monthly comics such as Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Do you have a favourite book?

I don’t really like to choose but I adore Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin, and The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. The best book I’ve read so far this year is probably The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy.

The Cardiff Review

What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?

Somehow days off always turn into work days anyway, which is maybe how I like it, since I keep doing it. I end up working through things for The Cardiff Review or trying to work on other projects or practise with the band I play in. If I’ve got nothing on then reading in the morning and spending the afternoon cooking something or other – nothing exciting. I also spend a lot of time at gigs, but you don’t need a day off to do that. Usually days off involve a lot of coffee.

Critiquing the Notion of English as the Global Lingua Franca for Academic Journal Publishing

We recently published Global Academic Publishing edited by Mary Jane Curry and Theresa Lillis. In this post the editors examine the idea of English as the global language of academic publishing.

It is commonly asserted that English has become the global language of academic publishing. The push for scholars in many parts of the world to publish their research in English-medium journals has grown markedly in the past two decades, affecting researchers working not just in the natural sciences but also in the social sciences and humanities. This trend has developed against a backdrop of neoliberal policies in many global contexts that have strongly affected the aims, activities, and working conditions of higher education. In many cases, using English and writing for publication in English signal the ‘internationalization’ of higher education, with little attention being paid to what might be lost in this move or what the costs may be to individual academics and to knowledge production more broadly. In fact, the shift to English means that knowledge published in English may not be available in local languages, hindering the development of local research cultures and societies more broadly.

In the past 25 years, research has documented many of the barriers to multilingual scholars gaining access to the global academic marketplace (in English); their perspectives on their successes and challenges; and the policy conditions that foster the growing pressure to publish in English. The chapters compiled in our new edited book, Global Academic Publishing, critically examine how these pressures and policies play out in specific geographic contexts, some of which have not been previously explored. The book’s section on policy explores the effects and inequities of both implicit and explicit policies for the use of English in academic knowledge production. Implicit policies for English-medium publishing include the nesting of English in many of the metrics now being used to evaluate the work of academics, for example, the journal citation indexes published by the Web of Science and journals published by Elsevier, Springer and other European and North American publishers. Evaluation systems driven by such metrics tend to ignore other ways of evaluating research quality and sidestep deeper conversations about what topics and questions are valuable and to whom.

The perspectives section of the book investigates the dynamics of academic publishing in English that continue to develop even in contexts that have historically had high levels of access to English such as Scandinavia and western Europe, where pressures for English have an impact on scholars’ multilingual identities and engagement with knowledge production for various audiences. The book’s section on journal publishing pushes the boundaries of research on academic publishing to look at how editors respond to pressures for English-medium articles in terms of their journals’ policies and practices. It also examines the rising phenomenon of open access publishing including those unscrupulous open access publishers who prey on scholars’ desires for English publications. The final section of the book draws together research critically examining different types of pedagogies supporting scholars and graduate students in their publishing efforts, from courses to workshops to self-support structures using mobile technology.

This volume marks the launch of the new book series we are editing, Studies in Knowledge Production and Participation.

Mary Jane Curry and Theresa Lillis

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like International Student Engagement in Higher Education by Margaret Kettle.

 

Publishing FAQs: The Production Process

The production stage is an exciting time in the publishing process, as a manuscript begins its journey from Word document to printed book. However, there is a lot of work to do before the book is ready for publication! In this post Sarah answers some of the most common questions she gets asked during the production process.

Sarah hard at work checking proofs

Will my manuscript be copy-edited and proofread?

Yes, we ensure that every manuscript we publish is copy-edited. We will ask authors to proofread their typeset proofs but I will also be checking them throughout the production process.

Will I get to choose my own cover design and image?

If your book is being published in one of our series (most will be) there will be a series design to adhere to. We are very happy to take on board authors’ preferences re a cover image (if the series design includes one) and background colour. Check out our blog post on book cover FAQs for more information.

How long does the production process take?

From sending the final manuscript for copy-editing and typesetting to the arrival of a printed book usually takes around 5-6 months. This can be done more quickly but for marketing purposes it is better to get advance information (ISBNs, prices, ToC) out 6 months ahead of publication. We also like to have enough time to ensure we are publishing a high-quality volume and not rush things out in a very short time.

Do I need to adhere to a specific style/layout in my manuscript?

We provide guidelines for authors but we are flexible in terms of manuscript layout and font. We are currently working on a requested stylesheet for book editors to send to their chapter authors.

Do you follow APA referencing guidelines?

No, our reference style most closely resembles the Harvard referencing style.

How should I send my figures/photographs?

If you have a lot of photographs to submit with your manuscript it’s best to submit these separately as tiff files (jpegs are also acceptable). If possible they should be minimum 300dpi.

Can I add/change things after my manuscript has been finalised and the production process has begun?

We would strongly discourage changing large parts of your manuscript once we have sent the final version to the copy-editor/typesetter. You will have a chance to proofread the typeset pdf and make changes (we would expect these to be mostly minor at this stage) at the initial proofing stage.

When can I expect initial proofs?

We ask our copy-editing/typesetting suppliers to return the pdf proofs to us 6 weeks from their receipt of the manuscript. This deadline can depend on how fast authors respond to any copy-editing queries which the suppliers send to them directly.

How should I return my proof corrections?

Most authors email a list of corrections which I will transfer to the proofs while I am checking them. Increasing numbers of authors are supplying corrections made directly to the pdf. We are also happy to accept hard copy corrections through the post!

When should I start my index?

It is best to start the index at revised proof stage (i.e. once the initial corrections have been made) so pagination is unlikely to change.

How long does a book take to be printed?

We ask our printers to send the printed book to us 3 weeks after they’ve received the final proofs/cover from us. We do not announce publication until the printed books have been checked in-house and delivered and booked in at our UK distributor.

The Ebooks page on our website

Will my book also be available as an ebook?

Yes! We publish all our titles as library pdfs, and in Epub and Kindle formats. Please see the Ebooks page on our website for more information on where they can be purchased.

Will I receive complimentary copies of my book?

Yes, authors and editors of books will receive printed copies of their books (if you’re in doubt about how many, please consult your contract or contact your commissioning editor). For edited books, each contributor will receive either an e-version of the book or a printed copy.

Sarah

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.

The Debate on Brexit and the Potential Impact on Academic Publishing

Alongside the meetings and stalls at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which Tommi and I attended last week, there were also talks and discussions on topics of general interest to publishers. One that caught our eye on the Publishing Perspectives stage was entitled “Debate on Brexit and the Potential Impact on Academic Publishing” and I went along to hear the discussion. The panel comprised Richard Fisher, an academic policy correspondent, Richard Mollet from the RELX group and Andy Robinson from the publisher Wiley.

The general feeling among academic publishers is that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union is troubling and of great concern so the panel began with the discussants being asked if it is all doom and gloom as we suspect, or if there are in fact some silver linings to the situation. The panellists managed to come up with 4 positives, such as the short term currency gains which publishers with high exports are enjoying, potential beneficial changes in VAT laws, a renewed focus on emerging markets and UK research possibly being able to reposition and rebuild itself – particularly in some areas of science research, such as clinical trials, where the UK’s formerly strong output has fallen apart. We were also reminded that there were pockets of support for Brexit among some UK academics and that we need to respond to and work for the 52% who voted for the UK to leave the EU.

The panel on the Publishing Perspectives stage
The panel on the Publishing Perspectives stage

The above positives aside, the discussants identified several major concerns of Brexit for the publishing industry which were grouped into 3 main areas: people, funding and regulations.

The UK publishing workforce has a higher than national average percentage of workers from abroad and we do not know what the implications of Brexit will be for employment. The same goes for researchers at UK institutions and EU students, who bring growth for our economy as well as numerous other societal benefits. The panel mentioned anecdotal evidence of academics now refusing positions at UK universities and UK academics being taken off grant applications or side-lined within existing projects. Furthermore, the UK will now be relegated to the position of an observer rather than a participant on discussions around matters such as Open Access in academia.

Regarding the concern of funding, the panel felt that the sector needs to make a clear case to the government for research funding to be maintained and provided, especially as the terms of Brexit are negotiated and we are in a state of flux. Universities shouldn’t resort to pleading and requesting a special case, but rather they need to stress to the government the importance of the industry to our society and economy.

Finally, on the topic of regulation, the conversation moved to areas such as copyright law, data protection and medical trials, all of which are currently governed to some extent by EU law but which need not be in the future. We were reminded that the UK has traditionally had a good research reputation but, where Britain now goes the world won’t follow. Our decreased voice on topics of international concern is troubling.

The session was wrapped up with an optimistic view that British publishing is international in scope and outlook and that that is unlikely to change, especially in the humanities where relations are as much transatlantic and global as they are European. Brexit will no doubt have an impact on the industry but perhaps not as much as other concerns of 21st century publishing, such as mass piracy and green open access, but those are topics for discussion another time!

Laura

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.

The Life of a Book – Post-production!

Laura showing off some newly arrived books
Laura showing off some newly arrived books

Arguably the most exciting days in our office are the days when new books arrive. We love receiving such packages from the printer and having the final product in our hands, and we’re sure that our authors feel a sense of joy and achievement on receiving their copies. To some, this is seen as the end of a journey – the editorial and production work has been successfully completed and the job of publishing the work is done. But as a publisher, we’d be pretty useless if we saw this as the time to stop working with a book. In fact, for us in the marketing department, this is our moment to shine!

Elinor and I will have been busy in the run-up to publication setting things up ready for the book’s publication. This means that we will already have let all our distributors, wholesalers and sales reps know that the book is on its way; we will have ensured that the book has a complete listing on our website; and we will have provided the author with marketing materials, such as information sheets and discount flyers for them to give to any interested potential readers.

The ground has then been properly laid for us to start the immediate marketing of a book on publication. We announce that the work has been published to as many people as possible. We inform all industry members, such as wholesalers and sales reps, that the work is now available for their customers and try and reach as many customers as possible directly. This might be done by posting on listservs, such as Linguist List (Multilingual Matters titles) and Trinet (Channel View Publications titles), sending a newsletter to our email subscribers, sharing the news with our Facebook and Twitter followers and informing journal book reviews editors and authors of related blogs, for example.

All our new books are available simultaneously as print and ebooks, so there is also work to be done to get news of the ebook out. Sarah, our production manager, ensures that the book is available to purchase on a variety of platforms, and we ensure that it is also available on our own website. At this stage we also start to send out inspection/desk copies to those who have requested one from our website and we give the option of an ebook rather than a print copy. This means that course leaders get the text immediately and can start considering it for adoption on a course much quicker than the traditional way.

Anna and Tommi promoting our books at AAAL earlier this year
Anna and Tommi promoting our books at the AAAL conference earlier this year

Once the initial marketing has been completed and the buzz may have quietened down, we continue to publicise the work through other avenues. Common ways of doing so are through our catalogue mailings, and additional flyers and materials we produce for our sales reps, series editors and authors to distribute. We also attend many conferences throughout the year and always have lots of our recent and relevant titles with us on display. On occasions when we can’t attend an event in person we frequently send display copies and discount order forms to continue to make potential readers aware of our books.

When a book reaches 6 months old we review its progress at an editorial meeting. We look at the sales figures and discuss how its early sales are looking. This is a useful stage to review a title as it is still young enough to be of interest to booksellers and so we give a title a marketing boost if we feel that we may have missed an opportunity. This is the time when we start to see the very first reviews of a book appear in journals and these continue to appear over the course of the next few years.

On a book’s first birthday we again review its progress and might even start to think about reprinting copies of the work if it has been particularly successful. We monitor our stock levels each month so we try and ensure that we are on top of demand and that a book is always available, but occasionally we’ll receive an unexpected order, perhaps if it is suddenly adopted for a course and we receive a bulk order from a university bookshop preparing for the start of a semester.

Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series
Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series

We continue to monitor sales annually and promote the book when appropriate for as long as there is demand for it – often for many years after publication. Occasionally a book will receive additional attention, such as from a foreign publisher wishing to buy the rights to translate it into a foreign language. This is a really exciting time and such news is always greeted enthusiastically both in our office and by an author who is usually chuffed to hear that their work is to be translated and published for a new audience. We have recently sold our books for publication into languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Arabic, Korean, Macedonian and Greek. Of course at this point, the book gets a second lease of life and it’s down to the foreign publisher to repeat the life cycle of a book as outlined in this post!

Laura