Meet the UI Press is a recurring feature that delves into issues affecting publishing. Today, industry advice columnist The Bolshevik answers your questions.
Why was my manuscript not published? Signed, Confused in Cultural Studies
Confused: Thank you for writing. Of all the questions I receive, this one is asked the most often, just ahead of the query about dispensing toilet paper underneath or over the top of the roll. While I don’t have time to read your manuscript—the world revolution won’t bring itself—I can state authors suffer rejection for a variety of reasons.
Let’s address one of the most frequent: a tragic mismatch between project and press. In these hard and increasingly sub-literate times, a publisher simply cannot take chances outside its areas of specialty, lest university poohbahs decide to make up budget shortfalls by launching the cryptically-named Use Computers That Run On Kerosene Initiative. Thus, even your years-in-the-making book tentatively titled Koko’s Kussin’ Keyboard: How a Gorilla Learned to Swear Like the Third Chimpanzee will not find a home at a press that doesn’t publish on topics in anthropology, animal behavior, or Profanity Studies. It’s just a matter of budget. When confronted with the challenges of post-industrial capitalism, even a mighty acquisitions editor who finds swearing apes the funniest thing on Earth (in other words, all of them) cannot prevail. One must accept their verdict with good grace and move on.
I frequently hear publishing professionals bellyache about books being a hard dollar. What I’m wondering is this: how can a staff of college-educated people not see that the solution is to give the people what they want? Let me tell you, what they don’t want is to read. Does a movie with subtitles ever top the box office stats? I’d like to suggest that maybe you leave behind the egghead stuff and go multimedia. For instance, does the AAUP have its own cable channel? Why not? Signed, Just Trying to Help My Son with the Humanities Degree Stay Employed
Just Trying: Thank you for writing, Mom. In fact, the American Association of University Presses started its own cable network in 2013. I’m not surprised you have yet to see it. Like many fledgling channels, AAUP Telemundus labors to attract eyes and ears. Still, the situation continues to improve. The channel gained enough attention last year to be labeled “Not as boring as C-SPAN” by Wired. Thanks to lifting its ban on advertising quack medical cures, AAUP TM secured funding to move away from fare such as Monotone Dialogues on Bad Skype Connections and Tenure Track Death Race to unleash a lineup of scripted shows sure to challenge the prestige television outlets that now rule our culture. From Love That Diogenes, the hilarious hijinks of that Cynic philosopher with appalling personal habits, to Captain Ennui, the non-adventures of the world’s first existential superhero, we believe viewers will find that AAUP TM entertains and informs.