A young philosopher writes:
I’m a recently tenured associate professor at a strong liberal arts college. I have a decent number of articles published at solid journals. I’m somewhat known in the areas I work in, but I’m far from a big name or rising star. I’ve been thinking of writing a book for a few years now, but have hesitated to do so, primarily because it seems so risky. There are many strong journals, so even if a paper doesn’t make it immediately, there’s a decent chance of it finding a good home. But with books, it seems there are far fewer strong publishers. I would be very grateful for any advice from your readers, particularly with respect to the following questions…
1) I have a few friends who have been approached by leading presses to submit manuscripts. How common is this, and do those of us who have not been so approached stand much of a chance? Is there any sense of how important it is to be well-known already in a given area?
2) Relatedly, the book project I’m currently most interested in pursuing is not in the area where I’ve published most of my work. I have published a few articles, but am relatively unknown by those who work in this other area. Should I stick to working on a manuscript more squarely in a field where I’m at least somewhat more established?
3) I’d be especially interested to hear from readers who wrote a book manuscript but failed to find a publisher. Does your work on the manuscript seem like a waste of time, or do you feel that it was still worthwhile? In retrospect do you think it would have been wiser to work on a series of articles instead?
4) More broadly, I’d welcome any thoughts on the wisdom of attempting to write a book manuscript for someone at a tenured, mid-career stage.
Advice from readers? Signed comments preferred, but every comment must have a valid e-mail address.