Pre-Publication Anxieties, Composing, 20/09/2013

Nothing too high-concept today. I’m in the final stages of editing my ecophilosophy manuscript, making changes and adjustments to the closing chapter, where the entire project comes together with a detailed depiction of the self conceived ecologically. The central idea is that a person is a field of affects, and that field integrates with a person’s environment. In terms of the daily activities of a person, each of us isn’t a discrete object moving through a world that stands separate from us, but is a pattern of constantly active forces swimming through a world that we change with every motion.

As I prepare the manuscript, I face the usual quandaries of a first-time author: working out which publishing label to approach first, unsure of the best way to lay out my formal proposal, a little anxious about what changes my possible editors would ask me to make. I’m more concerned about this latter point right now than any of the others. I roughly know how to go about selecting possible publishers and repairing problems in proposal drafts before approaching companies. I designed my dissertation as a book-length project aiming for broader public consumption from the beginning, and plotted its arc very carefully both before I wrote it and as I was writing. Even though the manuscript passed my dissertation committee and external examiner, I still worry that it will be rejected by the gatekeepers to a more broad audience.

I’ve also met people at every level of the academic hierarchy (graduate students at all levels, undergrads, enthusiastic amateurs) who refuse to take criticism on the grounds that “You just don’t understand what I’m doing, man!” Of course, the reason most of these people are not understood is that they express their ideas terribly, or have terrible ideas in the first place. I’m not one of those, and my worry is that I might be mistaken for one of those if, after securing an academic publisher, I get into a miscommunication with an editor or a peer reviewer.

This is actually the second time I’ve faced the usual quandaries of a first-time author. There’s been some push and pull between myself and the editors at Blank Space Publications, who are publishing Under the Trees, Eaten later this year. We were able to sort through those fairly quickly, and completed the second draft of the novella faster than I’d originally thought, which is a sign of a solid working relationship. Still, I’m aware of a difference in scale between a new independent fiction publishing company and a decades-old university press. But I’m optimistic that my publication plans for the ecophilosophy project will work out over 2014.

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