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Author Tips: Sarah Cook

This weeks Top Tips are from Sarah Cook co-author of Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media

Publishing can be a waiting game, while you wait to hear if a publisher is going to accept a proposal or not, and then, hopefully, while your manuscript is being peer-reviewed.. Here are some tips (noted with the benefit of hindsight) for how to manage that waiting game.

1. When your dissertation is finished, don’t immediately publish all the best bits in the first invitation you get to contribute a chapter to another book, in case you later get the chance to write your own book! You don’t want to have contractually signed away the first-publishing-rights to that researched material and then have your own book proposal accepted at another publisher. This happened to me. If you do get asked to contribute a chapter to someone else’s edited anthology or journal of course do it, but pick a single idea from your thesis, or a single chapter (not the conclusion!) and rework it accordingly.

2. Keep a list of things you want to write about, and when opportunities to publish present themselves consult the list and keep ‘reshuffling’ it; again don’t let go of the meatier pieces which you want to build into a book.

3. If you can write for trade publications and publish more quickly in newspapers or on blogs rather than in academic presses initially, then use those ‘columns’ and ‘reviews’ to do smart glosses over timely topics which interest you which can then be expanded and made more weighty and historical for later book publication. This ups your street cred too.

4. Remember your audience, and practice your writing styles: a column in a paper, an opinion piece on a blog, a review in a trade publication, a chapter in someone else’s book, and a chapter in your dissertation should all ‘sound’ very different – and will help you to find the voice you want to have in your own authored book.

5. When your book is being published and is through to marketing/design phase be extra sure you have a forward-sounding title (that won’t feel out of date when the book finally hits the shelves), and that the image that gets picked for the cover isn’t about to be used on someone else’s book with another publisher – sounds impossible, but nearly happened to us (clearly the publishers don’t speak to each other so be sure you know what else is coming out in your field, and when).


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