Some additional information about my first book

Hello, again, bolded alter-ago.

I saw online that you received a physical copy of your book!

Right to the point, I see. A pre-print copy arrived with some other book deliveries yesterday. It was quite a surprise.

You promised me news! And here you are just Tweeting it out. What do you think your name is, Donald, or something?

Not a chance. What would you like me to start with?

I didn’t expect you to be so accommodating. How about the title?

I could give you the title, but what about if I show you the cover at the same time?

Fine.

Pretty. How do I get it?

The book is available for pre-order on the University of Michigan Press website. The book is scheduled for release in March and an electronic book will be available at or around the same time.

Since this is an academic book, I assume that this will cost me an arm, a leg, a kidney, and the deed to my firstborn child. Did I get that right?

Do children come with deeds?

You know what I mean.

I do. This is perhaps the most exciting piece of news. The book will be coming out with University of Michigan Press as a hard cover volume at their normal price point (about $75), but I was offered an option for my book to be included in a new open-access program. The book will still be found in the catalog and available for purchase, but, in effect, I agreed to forgo a paperback version of the book and instead make the e-book open-access.

So you volunteered to sell fewer books. Why?

A few reasons. First, there is very little chance that this book will sell enough to earn me meaningful royalties, with or without a paperback run. I tried to write my book to be approachable and hope that it sells well for an academic book, but I read the contract and am under no illusions that academic publishing will make me rich. Second, open access makes it possible for more people to read my work and that could, at least in theory, open more doors for me. The third reason is more philosophical. I have benefited enormously from scholars and organizations that make their work available for free. I am always looking for opportunities to pay that forward by publishing open access work where I can, even if I generally haven’t been successful with my articles. Given this opportunity, I took it.

Very noble of you.

It is also practical. I have reservations about the sustainability of open-access publishing over the long term and it is not going to resolve the issues of a crumbling higher-ed infrastructure for the humanities and social sciences, but I’m also intimately familiar with the many difficulties that come with publishing as a contingent faculty member. If making my work open access makes the life of any contingent scholar or graduate student a little easier, then it’ll have been worth it.

When I tentatively raised my concerns about sustainability, my editor told me to have that conversation about my next book. Her answer didn’t really assuage my concerns, but I guess I’ll need to write another book.

So, how’s the next book coming?

Patience. I have a few book projects in mind that I am starting to work on, but each of them is likely multiple years out at this point.

Slacker.

Call it what you will. Book writing takes time under the best circumstances and I am one of many professors who don’t receive research leave. I will likely write more books because I want to write more books—in fact, I already have outlines for three more history books and a novel. But what I write and how quickly will depend enormously on how the other parts of my career develop over the next few years.

I’m excited to be moving on to new work after spending the better part of a decade with this one, I’m also going to enjoy seeing this book out in the world.