Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A publishing contract is not a contract

There's a shakeup at one of the university presses that has tenure implications for people in my area.  I have reviewed several books for the editor at Biggish University Press.  I respect his work.  Plus, I wanted to support that press because it has been so good about publishing books by tenure-track faculty in my narrow area.

He told me he was retiring.  I was disappointed, but I assumed the press would continue its interest in this line.

I sent in my latest review about 6 weeks ago.  He contacted me last week.  It seems that even though he had extended a provisional contract to the book I reviewed, the press was reneging on that contract now that he was gone.  The book had gone through two revisions, and I had reviewed three different versions!  And the university committee had also approved it.

My old advisor from grad school had his edited volume canceled late in the game by the same press.  The editor is now working with another press (part-time, semi-retirement), trying to get these books published there.  Problem is, while this second press is pretty good (and getting better), it is not a university press.

It probably won't matter too much for the edited volumes.  But several of my friends got tenure based upon their monographs being published by Biggish University Press.  And one of my colleagues here at my Univ. had sent his manuscript for review at the beginning of summer. I'm scared to ask him about it.  He needs publication by a university press.  And it needs to happen in the next 18 months.

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