How do Editors and Potential Contributors to a Volume Find Each Other?

We recently held an online event with series editors and authors from our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series about publishing their books, with an opportunity for audience questions at the end. Here’s a taster of one of the questions that was discussed, answered by Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Peter D. MacIntyre.

How do you go about finding contributors for an edited volume? What about new researchers who want to publish a chapter in an edited collection? How can they find out about relevant collections? 

Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Peter D. MacIntyre

This question has two parts, the first part is from the editors’ perspective. Finding contributors often is a matter of reading the literature and getting to know the people working in an area, including those who shape the history of a field and the recent work as well. Sometimes, as an editor, you hit on an idea whose time has come, and contributors are excited to be part of a collection that recognizes the emergence of a new research area or integrates work on a topic that seems to require it.  When an editor has a good idea for a book, new and established scholars alike will want to be part of it. When inviting contributors, especially people who have established themselves in a field, it is important to give enough time to allow them to write a contribution. An editor might also entice contributions with an innovative or flexible format.

From a contributor’s perspective, one way you find out about publishing opportunities is to watch for calls for papers. These might come via an association or mailing list. Perhaps the most popular mailing list is LinguistList. If you follow authors in your field, they might put out a call on social media. Not all books provide an open call for papers, as some are by-invitation only. But there might still be collaboration opportunities with faculty members. A new researcher can join up with an experienced researcher or mentor as a co-author, if they know you are interested.

You can watch the recording of the event and find out the answers to the rest of the audience questions here:

What are Editors Looking for in a Proposal when Deciding Whether to Publish a Book or Not?

We recently held an online event with series editors and authors from our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series about publishing their books, with an opportunity for audience questions at the end. Here’s a taster of one of the questions that was discussed, answered by series editors Sarah Mercer and Stephen Ryan.

What are editors looking for in a proposal when deciding whether to publish a book or not?

Sarah Mercer
The key thing is a contribution that belongs in the series you’re submitting your proposal to, so in our case, it must be about the psychology of language learning and teaching. It should have something original to say and the authors need to show that they can identify the gap their research is filling.

Your proposal should be relevant for a global market – it can be researched at a local level but must be reflected on in global terms too. It must be professional in terms of writing and content and should be worthy of book-length treatment and not something that could be covered by an article. It should have a clear coherent thread running through it – something to watch out for especially with an edited collection.

Stephen Ryan
In the case of a proposal from an early-career academic, the initial question we are asking is along the lines of “Do we believe this person can deliver a first-class manuscript?” We only have a few pages on which to make that evaluation. We go to each proposal in a positive state of mind; we are looking to encourage publication, not prevent it. It may sound obvious, but a professional presentation of your proposal is important. Careless mistakes, such as errors with names or dates of works cited or clumsily copied chunks of text, start to raise red flags. Basic care and attention make a difference.

Once we start considering the content of a proposal, we are looking for a clear idea; what is the proposed book about and where does it fit within the existing literature? What is unique about the proposed book? Who is likely to be interested in the proposed book?

My own personal view is that reading academic works should not be an ordeal. Reading should be a pleasant, rewarding experience. Evidence of a clear, engaging writing style is always welcome.

You can watch the recording of the event and find out the answers to the rest of the audience questions here:

How Do You Prepare a Successful Proposal as an Early Career Academic? 

Last month we held an online event with series editors and authors from our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series about publishing their books, with an opportunity for audience questions at the end. Here’s a taster of one of the questions that was discussed, answered by series editors Sarah Mercer and Stephen Ryan.

How do you prepare a successful proposal as an early career academic? 

Sarah Mercer and Stephen Ryan

Perhaps the biggest challenge in preparing a book proposal is adapting your research to a very different kind of audience than that of a PhD. As an early-career academic, your potential audience is likely to be unfamiliar with you or your work. That potential audience needs to be persuaded to engage with your work and needs to be persuaded quickly. This means that the scope and purpose of your book must be clear and you must ensure that the findings are relevant beyond the immediate local setting – they must have something to say globally.

When preparing your proposal, it may be a useful strategy to formulate a very brief explanation of your book and why someone should read it – an elevator pitch, if you like. Once you have this in mind, you can use it as a guide for writing the proposal; make sure your proposal does not divert too far from these central ideas.

The proposal should be professionally presented and follow the template provided on the website by Multilingual Matters. It needs to be offering something fresh and appealing to a global audience, so the proposal should make clear what gap it is filling. We would recommend giving your proposal to colleagues for feedback and getting them to ask you questions about it. If you can get hold of examples of past successful proposals, that can help to give you an idea of what is expected.

Take time to get the proposal right, which means getting clarity in your own mind about what exactly you intend and what your main message is. In many respects, a proposal is a unique genre of writing: your task is to present complicated and nuanced ideas clearly and briefly. It is a very difficult balance. When struggling with that balance it is probably better to lean towards the side of clarity and brevity, but a little careful wording can help show that you aware of complexities.

One more point worth thinking about is your title. An attractive, memorable title can go a long way to getting the prospective reader to engage with your work.

You can watch the recording of the event and find out the answers to the rest of the audience questions here:

What The Pandemic Has Meant For Us

In this post Tommi reflects on the unprecedented events of 2020 and how they have affected us as a business and as a team.

Well, what a strange year this has been! As England starts its new month-long series of restrictions, it’s a good time to look back on how this year has been for Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications.

At the beginning of 2020, Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications were looking at a good year of publications and a very healthy production pipeline of new materials. Following on from a year where sales had been quite depressed, we were seeing really good financial figures and the business was looking very healthy. We had two members of staff away on parental leave, but we were looking forward to welcoming them back in the summer and to really forging bravely into the future. Brexit loomed as a potential difficulty, and we were thinking about what steps we could take to make the business more environmentally friendly.

During a February vacation taking some friends to visit my home in Finland we had started to see an increased number of reports of coronavirus spreading, and the seemingly drastic measures taken in Wuhan to contain the virus as much as possible. It seemed like a sad situation, but such a long way away from us. I returned to my desk in early March and discussed with Anna Roderick whether we should start to consider our work-related travel to conferences, not really so much from a health perspective, but more because we felt it might just not be worth flying to the conferences if few people would attend. Then slowly the conference cancellations started coming in, and before long there was talk of what would happen if the UK government announced a lockdown. Every day brought different announcements, and it was getting very difficult to believe that anyone had any sensible plan at all. I found it almost impossible to concentrate on actual work, and we all speculated on when we might be told to work from home.

One evening while giving blood at my local blood donor centre, I sat and watched the news on the TV. Since our national government clearly wasn’t going to make a decision anytime soon, I typed a message out with one hand to my colleagues saying that “from tomorrow, we’ll work from home”. We all took our laptops home, and that was it. I expected it to be six weeks, or maybe two months. I did not expect that in November, eight months later, I would still be working from home and that I would have only seen my colleagues face-to-face a handful of times during that period. Had I known it would last this long, I would probably have suggested that we work in the office one last day, all have lunch together, and then go home, but at the time it seemed more sensible to break as many chains of contact as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, over the years our systems have been designed to allow homeworking and remote working while travelling, so the switch to working from home was technically not too difficult, and our team was pretty quickly coming up with strategies to make home working seem less lonely, including a shared 2.30pm break to listen to the same song, with each member of staff choosing the song on rotating days. We definitely have an eclectic taste in music across the whole team! Some of us had been working from home for a long time already, and so Sarah Williams and Anna Roderick were able to give us “newcomers” some tips and advice on how to organise ourselves, and enjoyed a more social atmosphere than before, now that us office workers began to understand the importance of regular contact!

About 10 days after we had decided to work from home, the government made a national announcement that we should all work from home and not leave our houses unless shopping for food, or for essential exercise once per day. All non-essential shops were to close, as were all workplaces that could not operate in a COVID-safe manner. Amazon stopped ordering books to focus on other product lines, and our two biggest wholesale customers closed their doors for an indefinite period. It was clear that this was not going to be a short, sharp shock and then back to business as usual. Together with the senior management team at Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications, we took the decision that the two most important things that we could do were to focus on staff wellbeing, and to conserve as much cash as possible. We immediately stopped all longer print runs and switched to digital printing, and decided that we would delay sending the usual complimentary copies of the books. We also wrote to all of our authors asking for patience with our annual royalties payments. We asked that authors who were either self-employed, in precarious employment or otherwise in a financial situation where the money would make a difference to their daily lives identify themselves to us so that we could prioritise payments to them, and that otherwise we would delay payments to a time when cashflow would allow. Our authors and editors responded with such warm and supportive messages. Many people wrote to offer words of encouragement and support, to insist that others were prioritised, and a good number even offered to donate their royalties to us this year. To all of you, I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you from the whole Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications team. The financial breathing room that this gave us was vital. But even more vital was the psychological boost that we got from feeling that we were genuinely valued as part of the community.

As the weeks went by, the news was mixed. One of our biggest wholesale customers declared bankruptcy, leaving us with a considerable bad debt. Fortunately, around that time the other wholesale customer started to re-open their warehouse, and orders began to come in, albeit at a much reduced volume. At the same time we started to see the sales of ebooks to libraries increase, which gave us some confidence that we weren’t going to be facing a complete halt in income. We were able to start sending out complimentary copies again, and we started to pay royalties. By the end of July we had caught up and paid all outstanding royalties where we knew we had payment preferences recorded. We also saw an increase in the number of manuscript submissions and so we felt that the decision to keep working rather than to go on furlough was definitely the right one. We have been innovative, arranging webinars and events on Zoom to promote the books from authors who have not been able to show off their work at conferences. Expect to see more of this over the coming months as we plan to introduce more of our publications in this manner.

Our “summer” pub lunch together

We arranged a few social events, including the ubiquitous Zoom “pub quiz” that has been a lockdown experience for most Brits, afternoon drinks, and even a shared Devon cream tea, which Sarah Williams organised for us one week. In the summer we managed to meet face-to-face on one occasion, with seven of us sitting around a large pub table at a time when social restrictions had been lifted temporarily. I still hold onto that lunch as one of my favourite lunches of the year! Although I certainly miss seeing my colleagues every day in the office, I think we have managed as well as is possible to keep a sense of togetherness going, which will prove vital as we now head towards a more difficult winter lockdown.

What will the coming months bring? I think February 2020 shows that we cannot take anything for granted, but equally so does March, April and May. It has been a much tougher year so far than I could ever have imagined when it started, but it has not been as bleak as we thought it would be at some times during April and May. We still expect that Brexit will cause some headaches for us as trade regulations and rules around exporting change. We do not yet know how bad the winter spread of coronavirus will be, or when we might be able to have more normal interactions with each other. Conference travel and bookfair travel seem a very long way away still. We can only imagine that with the levels of financial intervention that many countries have had to take over the past year, budgets of all publicly funded institutions will be strained, and this will no doubt have an impact on us in the future. But we are financially much more stable today than we were in February, and I believe that we are also more resilient as a team.

I could not be prouder of how my colleagues have responded to the difficulties and challenges this year has produced, and how we have still managed to find positives and celebrate successes. I strongly believe that this year has shown that we can overcome some really difficult situations when we, both in-house and as a wider community, work together to make sure that we look after each other’s interests.

Tommi

Publishing Workshop, Lund University, Sweden, November 2018

In this post Sarah talks about her recent visit to Lund University in Sweden where she co-facilitated a publishing workshop.

Planning, Preparing and Publishing a Book Manuscript
Department of Service Management, Lund University, 21st November 2018
Facilitators: Dianne Dredge, Johan Edelheim and Sarah Williams
Organiser: Erika Andersson Cederholm

At the TEFI conference in June, Dianne Dredge asked me if I’d be interested in taking part in an event she was putting together designed to encourage academics who are new to book publishing. Fast forward five months and I was on my way to the Helsingborg campus of Lund University to help facilitate a publishing workshop on preparing a book proposal and manuscript!

Dianne’s vision for the day centred around helping each of the 12 participants develop a book idea and we started the day by everyone sharing the titles of the book they would most like to write. The workshop was split into two parts – the morning focused on understanding the publishing process and looking at different writing strategies. Johan shared his experiences of adapting his PhD thesis into a book (the bestselling Tourist Attractions) and all it can entail – and the main points to focus on when you embark on the rewriting process. The afternoon was more interactive, when we went in-depth into developing a proposal. The ultimate outcomes for the workshop were:

  • Strategies, tips and advice.
  • Inspiration through shared experience.
  • Build your ‘keep me grounded’ network.
  • A basic template of your proposal.
  • Feedback on your ideas.
  • A plan to get you started.

 

It was great that each participant enthusiastically and openly shared their ideas, and their writing motivations and challenges. As well as explaining the publishing process to everyone, I certainly learned a lot about authors’ processes when it comes to writing – things that I will definitely bear in mind next time I’m chasing someone for a late manuscript!

For the afternoon session on developing a proposal, Dianne had prepared a Lean Book Concept Canvas (an adaptation of a business model canvas – see the beautifully-illustrated jpeg below!) The idea for this was so the participants could develop their ideas in a more organic way before starting on the proposal template guidelines.

Lean Book Concept Canvas A3 new
Lean Book Concept Canvas

The book ideas that were pitched were strong and it was useful to be there on the spot to provide guidance (for me it was like having one of our in-house editorial meetings but where authors were present for face-to-face feedback!) on things like really thinking about who your audience is and reworking the title so it gives a good idea of what the book is about.

It was a great event to be part of thanks to Dianne’s overall vision and preparation for the day and Johan’s openness in sharing his experiences and sage advice. And to Erika Andersson Cederholm’s efficient organisation – including the fika and AW – wholeheartedly appreciated!

I had time on my return via Copenhagen for a fun visit to Tivoli Gardens with Dianne and one of the workshop participants, Giang Phi – though we didn’t manage a visit to Santa Claus this time round!

 

Dianne and I would like to hold this event elsewhere in the future – so watch this space!

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.

Our 500th Blog Post!

This is the 500th post on our blog since it first began in 2011! We started the blog seven years ago, not long after our website was updated. In this post we reflect on the blog and share some special highlights and interesting facts with you.

Our very first blog post…

…was written by our Editorial Director, Anna, who wrote about the Mobility Language Literacy conference she attended in Cape Town in January of that year. Since then, we’ve published hundreds of blog posts: interviews with authors and staff alike, guest posts written by everyone from our sales rep to Tommi’s mum, blog series such as an A-Z of Publishing and Publishing FAQs, conference reports, authors introducing their new books, visits to suppliers, our thoughts on issues in the industry, such as Brexit and the pricing of ebooks…and much more!

The majority of people who read our blog are in the US and the UK, but we have readers all over the world, in 146 different countries!

A map showing where in the world our readers are. Only the countries in white haven’t had someone read the blog while there.

Some of our most popular blog posts of all time

One of my personal favourites – a post written by Tommi’s mum, Marjukka, in celebration of International Mother Language Day about what her mother language, Finnish, means to her.

In which we spoke to Colin about the then-newly-published 5th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

A post by editor Aya Matsuda on the inspiration behind her 2017 book.

A post in which series editor Ian Yeoman introduces the background to the new series and discusses the future of travel.

A pair of complementary posts from 2011 and 2013 respectively in which Tommi explains how the money from our books is spent and why we price our ebooks as we do.

Highlights of 2017

2017 has been a bit of a milestone for us, with lots to celebrate, and naturally we have written all about each highlight on our blog. Firstly, in February we published our 1000th book, Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (6th Edition). On top of this, we also hit 35 years since the company began. To mark it, we published Celebrating 1000 books in 35 years of Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters, a great post written by Tommi, in which he reflects on the last 35 years and discusses how the company and wider world of publishing has changed over time.

Anna and Sarah celebrating 15 glorious years at CVP/MM

In addition to this, Sarah and Anna, who joined the company within months of each other back in 2002, celebrated their 15 year anniversary working at CVP/MM. Of course, the occasion called for a blog post, and we published an interview with both Sarah and Anna looking back on their first days, biggest achievements and favourite memories.

Our blog was originally created as a place to share news, but it has become so much more than that. We hope that it gives readers an insight into what goes on behind the scenes and allows them to get to know us and the company a bit better. We look forward to the next 500 posts!

Flo

 

Just How Big is The Frankfurt Book Fair?!

Tommi and Laura at Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

Every year we attend the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, which we’ve mentioned in numerous blog posts in the past. The book fair always follows the same format with meetings often with the same people and in the same regular time-slots. It often feels like déjà vu and all that changes each year is the books we present and everyone looking slightly older than last year! Even the halls look exactly as the year before, as publishers usually take the same stands in the same halls.

One thing that we always struggle to do is describe to people who’ve never attended the fair exactly what these halls are like and just how big and busy the fair is. In numbers, the fair welcomes over 7,000 publishers and over a quarter of a million visitors, but it’s hard even from those figures to quite grasp its size. Only when you are hurrying from meeting to meeting down aisles and aisles of stands do you really get a feel for it!

This year we had the brainwave of making a video to show the sheer scale of the fair to those who’ve never attended. Tommi and I spent every spare moment between meetings and the quieter weekend days filming the aisles of the book fair to try and capture what it is like. We reckon that we walked over 15km within the fair and edited nearly 3 hours of footage to create a snapshot of it! If you’re interested, the resultant video can be found on our YouTube channel here.

Laura