Presentation at University of Kent, Canterbury,
November 27th, 2013
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
What are publishers looking for
(in a monograph)?
One problem for all authors is that fewer and fewer publishers are
willing to publish scholarly monographs
Publishers are looking for textbooks, professional reference and
scholarly reference works, for sale to a global audience
Subject specific monograph publishing is not in fashion – because of
declining sales, the threat of Open Access, preference for online
journals, e-book collections,
Publishers who will publish monographs are usually looking for
something extra – which could be potential sales in paperback to
Masters students, potential sales to a general audience, or “special
sales” to a group, society, corporate etc.
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Why monographs are hard to
sell (to Publishers)
The demands of REF are perceived , by publishers, to favour
journal publications
Global market for monographs is still shrinking in many
disciplines. From print runs of 2000 in the early 1980s, to
1000 in the 1990s, to 250-300 today.
Distribution is global, but purchasing is confined to a
shrinking number of elite universities
The Open Access movement has taken the publishing
industry by surprise, and there are worries that it will
lead toOxford
monographs being published OA
Hart Publishing,
January 2012
Why Write a Book?
Your justification for writing a monograph must be a good one, as the effort involved is massive:
Good Reasons
1. For pleasure/scholarly enjoyment
2. Because your research may be important
3. To provide materials for your students and colleagues
4. For professional advancement/ academic profile
5. To satisfy demands of funding body
Poor Reasons
1. To make money
2. To turn into a publication something you have written anyway
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Before you start
Have you time to write a book, and how will you live while
you do it?
Will you need to find and apply for funding?
Will you need to apply for a job – tenured or non-tenured i.e.
post-doctoral positions?
Have you material to develop into a book? How much
research do you still need to undertake and how long will this
Perhaps you already have, or expect to have a manuscript e.g.
a PhD thesis.
Would journal articles be a better or faster output? Will you
reach a wider audience by publishing online?
Consider other outputs. Conference papers, chapters in books,
journalism, reports or policy papers.
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Creating your own ‘brand’
Will you speak about your book at conferences?
Will you use the book for teaching?
Will you spin off other research?
Will you even be working in this field again?
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
The Golden Rule
You should write for yourself.
Show your work to people whose views you trust
and who will be brutally honest with you.
And remember, you are no longer speaking to one,
two or three people, but to an audience of hundreds,
possibly even thousands…
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Hart Publishing, Oxford
good books for lawyers
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
The most common question, with the most difficult answer
What should I write about to improve my chances
of getting a publishing contract?
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
If you are revising a thesis
Is there a secret to converting a good thesis into a good
book? There are things you will almost certainly have to do:
1. Change the word ‘thesis’ to ‘book’
2. Think very carefully about your methodology section
3. How much of the thesis is speaking to the examiners
and how much is original.
4. Strengthen introduction and conclusions
5. Cut out repetitious linkages
6. If the thesis presents an unorthodox argument, decide on
your message and emphasise it throughout the book.
De-emphasise secondary points
7. Update and add new chapters if asked
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Authors regularly have problems deciding on titles.
Which is better?
Title: Regulation, Recidivism and Reform
Sub-title: The Privatisation of Prisons in the UK
Title: The Privatisation of Prisons in the UK
Sub-title: Regulation, Recidivism, Reform
Be brief
Be explicit
Be Googleable
Assume readers will not discover your book online, not in
January 2012
Hart Publishing, Oxford
Searching for the right Publisher
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
What you should look for?
Who publishes the books that you read and use regularly?
Who are the publishers currently publishing in your area? Look
at their websites.
What is the quality of their books? Are they well edited and
What are the publishers’ pricing policies? Compare
Who do your colleagues recommend?
Which publisher best meets your future needs in terms of
Do a little bit of research
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
What do publishers look for?
1. Commercial Viability
2. Commercial Viability
3. Commercial Viability
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
What makes a book commercially viable?
This will vary from publisher to publisher
Is the book likely to be:
Likely to be influential?
Likely to enjoy longevity?
What is the readership?
How large is the market?
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Writing your proposal
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Writing the Proposal
Explain your methodology – e.g. is your approach
theoretical, empirical, historical, philosophical?
2. What writing style are you aiming for? Try to
demonstrate it.
3. Describe the book in 300-400 words
4. Provide detailed table of contents
5. Provide a brief cv
6. Provide a brief critical literature review
7. If a thesis, include examiners’ reports
8. If a thesis, explain how you plan to revise it
9. Remember to include the thesis, revised or unrevised
10. How long will the book be, and when will you finish it
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
What will happen to your proposal?
The publisher will make an initial evaluation
There may then be a peer review process
Receive and respond to criticisms
Be willing to rewrite
Take the opportunity to hone your style
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Common Problems
The publisher is taking too long. What do I do?
My examiners’ reports were not positive
Can I make simultaneous submissions to
How do I deal with rejection?
I want to publish articles from the thesis
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
What are the chances of getting a contract?
British publishers now deal with academic books from
all over the world – English is increasingly the chosen
language for publication
Not every worthwhile book manuscript will be of
sufficiently wide interest to merit commercial
Some publishers are very wary of doctorates
Many doctorates now available electronically via
university repositories
We receive 1500+ proposals annually
We accept 1 in 10 proposals
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Common Questions
Q: A publisher has offered me a contract, but has told me
that I must either subsidise publication with my own cash, or
produce an index and pay for editing. Is this normal?
Q: What terms should I expect for publication of my first
Q: How long does publication take?
Q: Does it help to be in a series?
Q: How many copies will my thesis/book sell?
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
Finally, 5 Golden Rules
1. Choose the right publisher
2. Prepare a proposal specifically for that
3. Don’t worry about rejection
4. Be prepared to write and rewrite, and be willing
to take the advice of those whose views you trust
5. Be realistic about deadlines…
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012
And remember…
Throughout your career, only ever publish
what you want to write about, not what you
think will help you get the next job. Write
with a passion for your subject, and don’t
ever worry about the commercial
possibilities of a project. Leave that for the
publisher to lose sleep over. It is what
makes our jobs interesting…
Hart Publishing, Oxford
January 2012

Hart Publishing, Oxford