The long road of academic book publishing

Posted by in Academix, Writing

Books. I love books.

Books. I love books.

I’ve finally discovered the disparities and quiet moments of joy in putting together a book. For over a year I’ve been working as a co-editor with Thomas Waugh and Michael Brendan Baker on a 700 page gorilla named “Challenge for Change/Société: The Collection” for McGill-Queens University Press. It’s an anthology of about 40 articles engaging with the radical experiment in participatory media the NFB launched in 1967. It’s been an insane, tremendous amount of work. I’m not known for my attention to detail, and I certainly won’t be after this book is done, but I’ve given it my all-best and tonight marks another lengthy and arduous stretch of labour-for-love with the book. There’s been administrative tasks (dealing with dozens of contributors), proof-reading and editing, designing the structure of the thing, meeting with stakeholders, writing my own chapter (with Jason Garrison), and the general chaos of organizing so many words, references, names, etc, into a cohesive and tidy chunk of pulp.

And it’s not over, oh it’s not even close. We’ve had peer assessments done and they were overwhelmingly positive (whew!). We’ve now just finished implementing their suggested changes. But next up, is another proof-read then back to MQUP for their proofing, then back to us, then we construct a massive index, then…

The goal is to publish next Xmas. I can already see me holding the four pound thing, beaming like a new father, likely with an extra beam from the five wines I’ll have just polished off as part of my post-editing decompression. Yes, academic books are mucho work, with no pay. But man, I’ve realized that just having this task, this ongoing engagement with scholars and their literature and a historical media moment, it’s all kept me alive intellectually. I’m feeling reinvigorated and ready to take on my second comprehensive PhD exams this summer! Yes!