Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

Category: Publishing

Google Books

Currently, Google Books has already scanned about 20 million books towards its goal to include 100+ million books. This past Friday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan (a three-judge panel) made its decision that Google Books has not violated copyright law of “fair use” in offering “Snippet View” (less than 16% of content) of books. In general, Google Books offers “Full View” for books in public domain, “Limited Preview” for books approved by the copyright holder, “No Preview Available” for books not yet scanned, and “Snippet View” for the rest.

I have to say that as an editor I have sometimes found Google Books very helpful in checking the accuracy of quotations. I can’t check everything, but it has come in handy numerous times. I don’t read whole books or chapters on line. But I have been able to view books to see if they are something I am interested in buying. So I am upbeat about the project. One thing I would find helpful is if as part of “Snippet View” they would offer a complete table of contents. But however this proceeds, Friday’s court decision represents another chapter in the ongoing changes in the publishing industry. Stay tuned!

Persons over Projects

So I did an impromptu interview the other day in our office about my work as an editor. I wasn’t at all dressed or shaved for the occasion, but it was fun and it gave our media guy a chance to play around with his new toys and editing software. Here’s a piece he put together:

Oh, and there was this as well…


A Dozen Tips for New Authors Meeting with an Editor at AAR/SBL

I feel like a newbie still when it comes to working as an editor at AAR/SBL. This year will be my eighth conference in that role. There are people who have been at it a lot longer than I. I work with three of those veterans: K.C. Hanson, Rodney Clapp, and Robin Parry. These three and many other seasoned editors may tell me the following list is mostly hogwash, but I’m guessing some of these tips stand true for all editors at these conferences. The tips are aimed primarily at other newbies, that is those authors who have not run the gauntlet of book publishing yet (or very much). Some of these things I could add to my curmudgeon list.

Be prepared. Everybody’s schedule is tight. While conference goers and would-be authors fill up their schedules by hopping around from session to session, presenting papers, bumping into old friends and long-admired luminaries, we editors are meeting with currently-contracted authors, they-want-to-be authors, and we-want-them-to-be authors in back-to-back-to-back time slots. So being prepared includes planning out your schedule well enough to (1) be on time to your meeting with an editor. But it also means being prepared to (2) wait a few minutes for the editor to show up. The author meeting the editor before you may not have heeded the first tip or some of the ones to follow. You should also be prepared to (3) discuss your writing project succinctly. This tip relates to tight schedules, but it also has to do with the next tip. Leave time to (4) ask questions about the publisher. Meetings with editors are not just for them to hear about you and your writing project. You will want to learn something about the publishing company and what it is like to work with them. Does your book fit their publishing profile? Are there imprints and/or series in which your book might fit best? What is the author’s responsibilities, aside from writing the book, of course? What is the turnaround time for receiving a response to a proposal? What even constitutes a proposal? [Hint: usually, (5) the meeting itself is not a proposal submission.] What is the turnaround time from manuscript submission to book publication? There are dozens of questions you could ask the editor. You’ll want to prepare a list of those most important to you.

Keep in mind (6) you will almost certainly know a lot more about your book topic than the editor.  You’re the expert here. You are the one who has spent months or years on the subject. The editor, in the same time, has edited several dozen books on an array of topics. So while you are not necessarily presenting your project to an unknowing layperson, you may still need to “dumb” it down and tighten it up. Offer a thumbnail sketch and (7) let the editor ask questions to draw out more information if needed. These last several tips are really getting at a major tip to keep in mind: (8) these meetings are mostly a way for author and editor to feel each other out. Both of you are looking for a good fit. No definite decision will be made in the short time you have together. More times than not (9) a formal proposal should be submitted later. There are several reasons for this. For us editors at Wipf and Stock Publishers, we prefer to receive proposals electronically and in our proposal form. We have six editors with whom we need to share the proposal so we can make team decisions about what books we publish. A couple of our editors are not at the home office. Sharing a printed proposal with them is not as easy as sending an email with the proposal attached. Also, at these conferences, we have a lot of stuff to pack up and ship back. It is very easy for a proposal to get lost in the mix. I do want to be clear, however. I am not saying do not provide editors with a printed proposal or abstract or synopsis or whatever. (10) Having something to look at while meeting with authors is actually quite helpful for editors. What I am saying is that a “formal,” electronically submitted proposal may be (will be, in our case!) requested. Don’t assume the ball is out of your court if you hand some papers to the editor. And by all means, (11) do not give editors the full and printed manuscript at the meeting. I’ve mentioned before that a full manuscript submission at the proposal stage is not helpful. See #2 here. Given all the tips I’ve mentioned above, receiving a full manuscript at a large conference where we meet dozens of potential authors and pack away hundreds of books and other odds and ends is burdensome. Finally, if you are shopping around your dissertation, take some time to (12) read this and the resources therein.

If you are an editor reading this, I’d like to hear what you think about these tips and know what tips you would add to the list. If you are a potential author, I’d like to hear what tips you have for editors.

Publishing a book ain’t easy!

Yesterday Peter Enns wrote a helpful post about “writing gooder and even more gooder books.” The post was about what he did to find a literary agent. The takeaway, however, was the list of books he recommended. The post is worth reading. But I wonder how many folks ought to be searching for a literary agent. Very few of the books we publish come our way via an agent. This may be because of the sorts of books we publish and the nature of our publishing model. I still wonder whether there are larger forces at work in the book publishing world. I’m reminded of the post by Berrett-Koehler publisher Steve Piersant, now a few years old. Piersant lists and expands on 10 awful truths about book publishing. The list without expansion is as follows:

  1. The number of books being published every year has exploded.
  2. Book industry sales are declining, despite the explosion of books published.
  3. Despite skyrocketing e-book sales, overall book sales are still shrinking.
  4. Average book sales are shockingly small, and falling fast.
  5. A book has less than a 1% chance of being stocked in an average bookstore.
  6. It is getting harder and harder every year to sell books.
  7. Most books today are selling only to the authors’ and publishers’ communities.
  8. Most book marketing today is done by authors, not by publishers.
  9. No other industry has so many new product introductions.
  10. The book publishing world is in a never-ending state of turmoil.

You can see the list with expansion, as well as a list of 10 wonderful truths about book publishing, here.

Plagiarism Flowchart

It’s meant for journalists, but you academics can make the necessary adjustments. Click to see full size. (HT: Vox)flowchart


I leave on a redeye to Baltimore on Monday night, arriving around 9:30 Tuesday morning. I will hit the ground running since the exhibit hall for ETS opens on Tuesday at 2 and we will be setting up the booth until then. So if you see me on Tuesday bleary-eyed and grumpy, it’s probably because I didn’t sleep well on the plane.

I’ve got today and tomorrow to tie up loose ends in the office, so you’ll have to forgive me for not blogging anything substantive, informative, or humorous.

If you are an author looking for a publishing home, I still have blocks of free time in my schedules for ETS and AAR/SBL. Contact me soon if you’d like to meet. Or drop by our booths (206 at ETS and 928 & 929 at AAR/SBL).

Ex Auditu

This post is set to go public about the same time I will be sitting in the San Francisco airport waiting on a plane for Chicago in order to attend the North Park Symposium on the Theological Interpretation of Scripture. I will have already flown from Eugene to San Francisco on a plane that departed at 5:17am. And I will be scheduled to arrive in Chicago a little before 3. The first session of the symposium is later that evening.

Given the early departure time I may very well sleep on the planes. But if I don’t sleep, I will be able to look over papers to be presented at the symposium from M. Daniel Carroll R., Paul Trebilco, Amy Laura Hall, and others on the topic of Urban Ministry.

Ultimately, you too will be able to read these papers in a more polished form when the annual journal Ex Auditu comes out next Spring. (By the way, you can get a free copy of the very first volume of Ex Auditu here.) In the meantime, you should check out some of the recent back issues. Volume 28 on Family is just a few months old and features the papers and responses from last year’s North Park symposium.


Why Chicago?

Grammar Girl has a nice little write-up and podcast about the benefits of the Chicago Manual of Style. We here at Wipf and Stock Publishers use a modified form of Chicago, so the following bit was particularly pertinent given the number of times I’ve been asked why we use the style we do (bold added):

Style guides also have different uses. For example, the Associated Press Stylebook is primarily for writers who work at newspapers or news magazines; the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is obviously for writers of research papers, and it’s used most commonly in the liberal arts and humanities. Writers of research papers in the sciences, on the other hand, may be more likely to use the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association or American Medical Association Manual of Style If I had to peg down The Chicago Manual of Style, I’d say that its primary audience is book authors


As an editor, I run across a large number of insightful quotes. One of my favorites regarding language and writing is from Mark Twain. A drawing of Twain with this quotation hangs on my office wall, which my wife framed for me:

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” —Letter to George Bainton, Oct. 15, 1888 for inclusion in Bainton’s The Art of Authorship: Literary Reminiscences, Methods of Work, and Advice to Young Beginners (1890) 87–88

Turn Your Dissertation into a Book

Advice for turning a dissertation into a book manuscript is readily available. In our Author Guide we say the following: Continue reading

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