Category Archives: publishing

April 7, 2009, 2:32 pm

Puff The Magic Sociologist: Sudhir Venkatesh, Gang Leader For A Day, A Rogue Sociologist Takes To The Streets

Longtime followers of this blog know that it is my deepest wish to write a book that will be sold one day in airports. Why airports? Well, some time ago a clever capitalist figured out that among the lay audience who passes through airports a certain percentage will want to read something of greater intellectual substance than a Jodi Picoult novel (of course, many academics see travel as a perfect excuse to read romance novels.) Because of the captive audience airports represent, travel has become an opportunity to sell more good books, as well as magazines that offer ten helpful hints to keep a husband sexually content. Some of these volumes are easy to sell in real life (anything about the Civil War, memoirs of addiction); and others may be harder to sell in real life (excellent non-fiction and, well, academic books) than they are to sell in the airport.

I often buy serious books…

Read More

March 27, 2009, 1:27 pm

Deaths in the Family: John Hope Franklin and The Book

There are two deaths being remarked upon at this year’s meeting of the Organization of American Historians. The first is the eminent scholar of African American history John Hope Franklin, who died earlier this week at 94. Read about it on the American Historical Association Blog, where I got this lovely picture and you will find links to several major obituaries. Franklin’s scholarly significance to the profession was of a level most of us can only dream of, but it is also worth remembering that he began his career in a time that few African-Americans were admitted to study for the Ph.D. Those who succeeded in obtaining a university appointment often faced enormous hurdles in their careers because of segregation: not being admitted to the conference hotel, not being able to eat on site or, in some cases attend professional functions where food and drink were served because of Jim …

Read More

March 4, 2008, 3:21 pm

Why I Have A Million Little Reasons For Thinking That Roger Clemens Might Have Used Performance Enhancing Drugs (And Other Modern Lies)

In my experience, a great many people who lie keep on lying until they are faced with indisputable proof that they are, in fact, lying. Doctors, athletes, journalists, college professors, cops, politicians. Every profession has liars. Such people, who have lied successfully over and over, will keep doing it until they are stopped, often in a very dramatic and public way. Probably none of us who has had a plagiarized book manuscript sent to us for review ever forgets the experience of uncovering the lie and, when the shock passes, of wondering where it all started: and all of us in teaching eventually have to deal with cheating, a paper purchased off the internet, or one of the other cumbersome, time-consuming ways some students find to not do their own work.

I am willing to wager, after the most recent fraud to rock the publishing world, that many celebrities who lie come to believe…

Read More

June 10, 2007, 4:56 pm


I need to say that Kenneth Ackerman’s new book, noted on Mary Dudziak’s Legal History Blog, makes me want to scream. This book is in chain bookstores everywhere and will be purchased by the thousands.

Do I want to scream at Mary Dudziak for shilling this book? No. I admire her. And I have many reasons to be grateful to Mary Dudziak, only one of which is that she has mounted this great blog that helps us keep up with what is coming out in the fields of legal and political history. The other reasons will have to remain a Mystery as they have to do with Very Secret Professional Business.

Back to Kenneth Ackerman’s book. I’m sure this is a fine book, but its very appearance plays to an ongoing trauma of mine. My trauma is this: I cannot tell you how many more or less general books have — and will be — published about the FBI. It is like the Civil War: there is literally an endless …

Read More

May 25, 2007, 6:13 pm

Ever Wondered How to….Find A Publisher?

I had this conversation with one of my favorite untenured colleagues the other day, and at the end of it, s/he said: “Everyone tells you how important it is to get your book out before tenure, but no one has ever given me advice on how to find a publisher before.” Shocking, but true. And this is at Zenith, where people publish a fair amount.

So this is what I said. Please add comments that are field-specific, that respond to things you see I have left out or that amend my errors.

1. Simplest advice first: map the publishing terrain of your field. Who is well known for its list and publishes books like the one you are writing? Which presses are considered desirable by others? With whom do the people you admire in your field publish? This should give you a short list of 5-7 presses on which you focus your efforts, always allowing for other presses to make themselves known to you….

Read More