In brief: Ellie Collier interviews several librarian-editors about the publishing process, with a focus on “call for chapters” style books.
I began working on In the Library with the Lead Pipe in 2008 as a founding editor and author, despite hating to write. The prospect seemed too exciting to let my own dislike of writing get in the way. I was the first editorial board member to step off of our initial author rotation and I remain grateful that the board let me stay on in an editorial role only, stepping back into a writing role from time to time to share survey results or make announcements like our Code of Conduct.
Over the past six years I’ve enjoyed growing my editorial skills immensely and have been vaguely on the lookout for additional opportunities to use those skills. My personal interest in editing and specifically wanting to learn more about the type of editing involved in “call for chapters” style books has lead me to this interview with a group of librarian-editors.
I wanted to approximate a conversation, allowing those answering the questions the opportunity to interact with and respond to each other while also allowing time for thoughtfully constructing answers. With that end in mind, I chose a collaborative Google Doc as the interview medium.
I also thought that this might be a good topic to follow up with a Google Hangout including editors who are willing to participate (with participants submitting comments and questions via chat). Let us know in the comments if that would interest you.
Heather Booth is the editor, with Karen Jensen, of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services (ALA Editions, 2014) and the author of Serving Teens Through Readers’ Advisory (ALA Editions, 2007). She is the Teen Services Librarian at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library, a Booklist reviewer, and a blogger and speaker on topics relating to effective teen library services.
Emily Drabinski is Coordinator of Instruction at Long Island University, Brooklyn. She is series editor of Gender & Sexuality in Information Studies (Litwin Books/Library Juice Press) and sits on the board of Radical Teacher, a journal of feminist, socialist, and anti-racist teaching practice. She also edited (with Alana Kumbier, and Maria Accardi) Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods (Library Juice Press).
Nicole Pagowsky & Miriam Rigby are co-editors of The Librarian Stereotype: Deconstructing Presentations and Perceptions of Information Work (ACRL Press, 2014). Nicole is a Research & Learning Librarian at the University of Arizona and writes and speaks about library instruction, game-based learning, and critical librarianship. She will be co-editing a forthcoming handbook for critical library instruction with ACRL Press. Miriam is a Social Sciences Librarian at the University of Oregon and currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Anthropology and Sociology Section (ANSS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries. She researches and writes on a variety of of subjects, with recent foci in instruction techniques and social websites such as Reddit.
Ellie: Can you give a brief overview of what the stages in the process were for you? What is the order of events: idea, pitch, find publisher, call for chapters, select, compile, edit, publish? What am I missing?
Heather: My process was largely dictated by the fact that the book I edited is part of an ongoing series. In my case, an acquisitions editor from the publisher I had worked with on my previous book approached me. She sent a copy of another book in the series, I wrote a proposal for the book I envisioned based on the structure and scope of the others in the series, and we went to a contract from there. Once the contract was set, I spent a lot of time looking for work that was already published that I could request for reprint. Around this time, I encountered some personal delays and the project went on hold for a bit. Then I brought a co-editor on, at which point we revisited the original proposal, revised it slightly to include more original content, and began both writing and soliciting writing from others. We looked for leaders in the field on a variety of topics and contacted individuals directly. Editing the articles happened next, and I did request a few significant revisions from authors. Compiling, organizing, and editing for consistency were the last phases before it went to the acquisition editor and back to us, and then the copyeditor and back to us one last time.
Miriam: Nicole and I did things a little bit backwards. We had a successful conference panel and then a webinar on aspects of our book, decided to try to put a book together on the topic, advertised for chapter proposals, and then went to ACRL Press with an almost complete proposal (with most of the chapter topics) to pitch our book idea. I think that having a fairly solid and fleshed out book proposal helped our pitch, but apparently most people pitch the book idea and then put out a call for papers… like Heather described.
As for content, we wanted completely new work, and with specific parameters for thorough research techniques, so we selected chapter proposals based both on originality of topic and research plans. We also required that everyone be able to complete their chapters within about 8 months—though we staggered due-dates of drafts and edits to make a manageable timeframe for everyone. There was a lot of back and forth between the authors and us, both for basic editing reasons, and because Nicole and I really wanted our authors to push their ideas and be able to make bold arguments. (I think maybe some of the authors were a bit shy or hesitant at first in a semi-self-censoring way, but everyone opened up really well once we made it clear that we wanted them to be strong in this way.) As the book progressed, a couple chapters exited the project for various reasons and we solicited a couple different chapters to fill topic-gaps that our original selections left. And we solicited a couple other chapters just because we thought they’d be awesome.
In addition to our own editorial input, we also sent each chapter out for double-blind peer-review, and near the end of the project, we also had pairs of chapter-authors trade their chapters with each other (based on similar topics/themes) for one last round of input and editing. Then we sent everything off to ACRL’s copy-editors who made additional suggestions, which Nicole and I mostly fixed up (with author-permission) as they were fairly minor edits.
The launch of the book was quite the big deal too… but Nicole gets the majority of the credit for coordinating that… so I’m going to let her speak now!
Nicole: Yes! Miriam captured our process very well, so I’m going to avoid repeating what she has already described. I will say that with the topic of librarian stereotypes and the challenges we face, the idea for the book was to really speak to this being a serious topic with implications for diversity (and lack thereof in the profession), status and pay, and notions of gendered work. With that in mind, our CFP was very important and had to be handled with care. We needed to be clear that this was a scholarly volume and that chapters should be well-researched. Instead of just pointing out tropes in popular culture, for example, we wanted authors to go in depth as to the implications of the existence of these tropes and look to gender studies, LGBTQ+, anthropology, psychology, etc. We spent a lot of time crafting our CFP to reflect what we did—and did not—want for submissions.
It’s sort of a catch-22 with finding a publisher and pushing a CFP, because a publisher typically wants to know who will be writing the chapters and what the topics will be before agreeing to sign; and on the flipside, authors typically would like to know who the publisher will be before putting in the effort to draft a proposal and get on board.
As far as launching and promoting, we plotted out what would have most impact and when (announcements, book giveaways, etc.). And having an additional platform (Librarian Wardrobe) where we had an already established audience of librarians interested in these topics made it easier to get the word out. We also lucked out working with Kathryn Deiss and ACRL Press, where it was possible to try new ideas and generate excitement with encouragement and support.
Emily: I met Alana Kumbier at the LGBT-ALMS conference when it was in New York in 2010. Alana talked to me about her idea for a book, and then we met up again a week or so later at the Thinking Critically conference in Milwaukee. Rory Litwin [of Library Juice Press] attended that conference too, so the three of us sat down over meat salads and talked about the potential project. (I love conferences in Wisconsin—all meat salads and glasses of milk.) He was into it, I pulled in my colleague Maria Accardi, we wrote the CFP for Critical Library Instruction, and it was on. We got a surprising number of submissions—surprising now that I’ve worked on a number of different volumes as a series editor. It turns out to be very difficult to get a sufficient number of quality chapters to make a whole book. I think Critical Library Instruction just arrived at the right time, when there was a critical mass of people with things to say about how to teach critically in the library classroom. If I did that book again, I think I’d put more work into recruiting submissions from authors whose work I admire.
Ellie: You’ve touched on this in a broad sense already, but could you go into a little more detail about the idea formation stage? What was the inspiration for your book? What excited you about your topic?
Emily: This book idea arrived at just the right time for me, professionally. I’d been teaching just long enough to have a critique of my own practice, and was beginning to suspect that it was about more than Boolean operators. I had just published my first ever book chapter, “Teaching the Radical Catalog,” in K.R. Roberto’s Radical Cataloging, and had just joined the Board of Radical Teacher, a feminist, socialist, and anti-racist journal of teaching practice. So pedagogy was all I was thinking about. At the same time, I was working on my own line of inquiry about queer theory and cataloging that turned into “Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction,” published in Library Quarterly last year. So I knew there were a lot of interesting things I had to say about critical approaches to instruction, and I was excited to see what other people had to say. I also can’t stress enough how wonderful it was to work with Alana and Maria on the project. Editing together meant we had lots of warrant to talk to each other all the time, work through ideas, share labor, and generally live inside a small political and intellectual world together for a year or two. That was a total pleasure.
Nicole: I had started Librarian Wardrobe in 2010 to catalog how librarians dress for work as a reference for the field, but also as a way to publicize that we don’t all look the same or fit the stereotypes. As more conversations around these topics arose surrounding the blog, it was apparent that although people are aware the stereotypes exist and realize to some extent that they hinder our work, it didn’t seem that it was as widely known that these are gender, diversity, and social justice issues and that we need to do something about them instead of just rolling our eyes at shushing bunhead images in popular media (and that it’s much deeper than popular media). Miriam and I had met at ALA in New Orleans in 2011 and hit it off, and I remembered we had similar interests and that she had a background in anthropology. So, I asked her if she’d like to organize a panel with me around these topics, and with her background and expertise, if she’d be the moderator. She agreed, we had a blast with awesome panelists (K.R. Roberto, Dale McNeill, Jenny Benevento, and Allie Flanary) and it was standing room only at ALA in Anaheim the following year. We were also able to turn the panel into a webinar with ALA TechSource and Library BoingBoing and had over 300 people attend. We then thought… we know this is important, there’s a lot of interest, and we need to do something with this. And so a book was born.
Heather: Like I said, the idea for the book came to me from an editor at Editions as she was looking to add to an existing series. So it was interesting to work within the structure that was already there and figure out how to shape it to meet the needs of a different group of readers. With both this and my previous book, I wanted to balance the theoretical with the practical. I think it’s just as important to know why we do it as how we do it, and more than anything that was my initial guiding principle. It wasn’t until my coeditor Karen Jensen came on board that the idea really started to take shape. She had created the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog and was just amazingly prolific and had all of this good energy and was getting feedback from different people than those I knew professionally. Working together, we were able to reach out to a wider group and really craft a book that is essentially the guide we wished we had when we started as teen services librarians.
Ellie: How did you decide it should be written through a call for chapters? Did you consider other formats—a special issue of a journal for example?
Heather: The series aspect dictated the format for me. I think in this case, it works well for a couple reasons. First, as it’s published by ALA Editions, it indicates that ALA is placing teen library issues on a pretty high platform. The other titles in the series are The Whole Library Handbook, which is broad and all-encompassing, and The Whole School Library Handbook, which is specific to a unique setting. That our book is included with these two demonstrates that addressing the needs of adolescents in libraries, and the work of teen services librarians, is of significant importance. It also keeps the content together. There are a few different journals that publish material similar to what is in our book, but the articles are spread out, and each issue needs to cover other material too. I like that it’s a cohesive whole in a book.
Miriam: As I recall, we never really considered something other than a book. We wanted to compose something that was fully our own and didn’t place many restrictions on us in terms of form and content. The main driving factor in how we suggested types of topics in our call for chapters, selected chapter proposals, and specifically requested chapters from additional authors (though with a lot of flexibility on what they wrote about), was that we wanted a book that got at as many perspectives as possible—so we didn’t just look at race, or ethnicity, or just at gender, or just at specific ways of thinking about the myriad issues. And we think we were pretty successful at getting this balance. There are certainly still some gaps, but we were able to push the conversation on stereotypes in many directions to help promote even more conversations into the future—even including the conversation of why are we so obsessed with stereotypes, which a lot of people feel is detrimental to getting librarianship done (but we make sure to cover why that’s not really the case.)
Emily: We never considered a journal issue, although I can’t say why. A journal issue never occurred to me! Patrick Keilty and I are editing an issue of Library Trends based on presentations at the Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies colloquium held at the University of Toronto in October 2014. That’s largely because Patrick has already co-edited a book in that area (Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader, with Rebecca Dean) and also because an issue of a prominent journal promises to make a different kind of impact, not just in terms of tenure considerations (which are real), but also in terms of readership. I do think they’re different animals, in part because of how we access them. I don’t know the last time I held a print journal in my hands and read it cover to cover. Books are different, the physical object matters in a different way, and has a different kind of life. I’ve edited a journal issue and worked on a lot of books. Books are way more fun.
Ellie: Heather mentioned initially planning to use mostly previously published works, did anyone else use (or consider using) previously published materials? In what ways did working with those differ from soliciting new writing?
Heather: Some of the chapters in our book had been published previously. Honestly, there is a lot of content out there that we would have liked to include in the book, but we ran into a lot of difficulty in obtaining rights to reprint. I’m really glad that we have the pieces that we have that are reprinted as they add a lot and the diversity in tone is great, but I also like that the pieces that were written just for this book help to make it a cohesive work.
Emily: We didn’t consider collecting previously published work. I think if we’d intended to make Critical Library Instruction a textbook, we might have done that differently. Keilty and Dean included previously published work in their collection, and faced the same challenge Heather did—reprint rights are expensive and hard to get.
Nicole: We also did not consider this, but did contact potential authors who had previously published relevant work (including blog posts) and asked if they would be interested in adapting/expanding it for the book.
Ellie: What was your process for recruiting authors and calling for submissions? Did you already have many authors in mind? In the end, what was the balance between chapters that were submissions vs. recruited?
Heather: All of our chapters were recruited—either by asking directly or by obtaining reprint rights. We found our authors and submissions in a few different ways. Initially, as I outlined the sections I wanted to have and the topics I wanted covered, certain people who are leaders on those topics stood out—Debbie Reese on the topic of diversity and accurate representation is one, Joni Bodart on booktalking is another. They’re really some of the first people who come to mind when those topics come up, and we were fortunate that they wanted to contribute on the topics we suggested. For other topics, the conference/workshop/panel networking that Emily and Nicole mentioned really factored into our process. We made lists of people who were doing good work in our areas of interest: people we knew in real life, people we knew of through virtual PLNs, people we had seen speak at conferences, or people who we knew were speaking at conferences that we couldn’t attend but were following through Twitter conversations. Basically, if we read something that really got us excited about the topic, that person went on our list as a potential author. This allowed for expert coverage on all of the topics we felt needed to be addressed with very little overlap.
Emily: We put out a CFP on a bunch of listservs, Rory shared it on his blog, and we all shared it with our individual networks. We ended up not soliciting chapters from people, although if I could go back in time, I might have done that—it would have been great to have a chapter from James Elmborg, for example. I wish we’d taken Heather’s approach. Next time, I’ll read this article first, before I get started!
Nicole: We mostly took the same approach as Emily, the majority of our chapters came through proposals, but then we did approach authors for a percentage. Our particular topic for the book both has and has not been written about a lot, if that makes sense—written about mostly tangentially for what sparked our interest, so we had to think of ways to talk with potential authors about how their work related to our book and how they could tweak it just a little bit to fit in with the general subject area.
Ellie: How did you vet the authors and their ideas, especially how did you get a sense of their writing and work ethic?
Miriam: We asked for chapter proposals to include not just the concept/idea for the chapter, but also a description of research methods, and an explanation of their expected timeline for research and writing—including a discussion of any potential delays such as getting human subject research approved. One thing we somewhat regretted not requesting were writing samples from the authors in the form of previous publications, or even research papers from graduate school. For the most part this wasn’t really a problem, but for future projects it would definitely be a step we’d include—not just because it would help us gauge writing styles, but also because some people have excellent ideas and excellent writing skills, but flounder a little bit in the short description of future research, so it’s possible we might have included submissions we passed over in the first round. For the solicited chapters, it was pretty easy, as we knew their writing style already (that’s why we sought them out), and so we were basically asking authors if they thought they could complete an original work in X number of months (or even weeks in one case).
Heather: Our process was like Miriam’s for her solicited chapters. There were a few people who we asked but were unable to finish the work for a variety of reasons, and a few others who we asked for more significant revisions than others, but by and large the work we got was what we expected.
Emily: We went on abstracts alone! When I think back to it I’m a little shocked it all worked out. I think our collection is as uneven as any edited volume, but by and large I’m really proud of what’s in the book, even though now it feels like we just got really lucky.
Ellie: Did you plan to write a chapter? Did you end up writing a chapter?
Miriam: Nicole might have started with big ideas for our chapter, but I set out with the idea that we’d have a fairly basic “introduction to the book and the concepts” type of chapter. And then we started writing it and we kept thinking of more things to include, and more works to cite, and more concepts to introduce… and then we had a giant chapter that we ended up editing back down fairly significantly. But overall, I’m quite pleased with what we ended up with—we still basically introduce concepts and the background to the book, just with more depth and analysis than I’d first imagined.
Emily: I didn’t plan to write a chapter. Alana didn’t write a chapter either, but Maria did. Alana and I wrote the introduction. I didn’t think I had it in me to both edit and write something, because editing is a ton of work. And it turned out I liked editing a lot better. I love working with authors and texts to make something really work. I’m a decent writer, but I think I’m a better reader. Alana and I wrote the introduction to the book, and I really loved doing that, looking at what we’d come up with, how we’d sorted it, what was behind our decisions, etc. It’s just the editorial version of talking about yourself. What’s more fun?
Heather: I did, and I did! Karen and I both contributed our own writing. I did the bulk of the editing, so there are more writing contributions from Karen, plus she had some really great resources already written and ready to go that we were able to use.
Ellie: Let’s talk about the editorial process: Did you do both copy-edits and substantive review? What techniques did you use to ensure diversity and to push authors to think deeper? If you worked with a co-editor(s), how did you divide your efforts? Did you use the chapter authors as co-reviewers of each others chapters? What do you think of that idea?
Emily: Maria, Alana, and I divvied up the chapters and each edited a third of the book. There was some horse trading—there were submissions I really wanted to work with, and others that were quite challenging for me—but mostly we just added up the chapters and divided by three. We all read all the chapters and gave general feedback, and then split them up for more in depth review. It’s an editor reviewed book, meaning we didn’t send the chapters out beyond ourselves. I think the best editing reads for big picture stuff, making synthetic connections that authors sometimes can’t see, and pointing to assumptions that might benefit from explication and evidence. Good editing is constructive rather than destructive, pointing to ways to strengthen a piece rather than pointing out all the ways a piece gets it wrong. I have been on the receiving end of peer review many times and really think it’s an art. I’ve had reviews that have pushed me to make more daring claims (to the extent that anything in this field can be daring!) and resulted in much stronger pieces, and I’ve had reviews that just made me feel bad about myself. I worked hard to give the authors I worked with a generous and critical engagement, the best gift you can give a writer. You’d have to ask them if that was effective or not!
Nicole: We did both, we mostly focused on substantive review, but copy-edited as well. ACRL provided us a copy-editor to review the final manuscript, which was so completely wonderful, allowing us to put more of that focus into content. Miriam and I both edited every single chapter. On some, one of us might have taken the lead, but we both read and provided feedback on all work (and all drafts of that work). We used Google docs to send feedback, which allowed for more interactivity and discussion with authors. To push authors to think more deeply on certain topics, I think we did a lot of question posing. Just asking authors what they thought of x or y, or why did they discuss the topic in this way, and did they think of z? What Emily says is very important, and I think when you’re approaching deadlines, as an editor you can get stressed out and want to comment quickly, but it can be an art to think about how your feedback might affect those receiving it and adjust accordingly.
Beyond that, we did have authors review each others’ chapters. We paired people up who had complementary topics and had them share feedback. Not only did it let authors get additional feedback from another perspective, but it helped them think about their own writing in a different way. Additionally, we had double-blind peer-review and found librarians and other academics with related research backgrounds to read and comment on chapters. On one hand we might have gone overboard with all the reviewing, but because these are sensitive topics, and because Miriam and I are both cis-het white women, we wanted to make sure that the chapters speaking to diversity in particular were looked at from perspectives more diverse than ours.
Heather: We also had a copyeditor through Editions, but as I read and reviewed the pieces, I did copyedit too. It’s really hard not to! I feel fortunate that I had worked with an editor previously, so as I read the submissions, I tried to do what my editor did for me: ask questions, address organizational confusions, give nudges when it seemed the author was on the brink of something bigger than what was currently written. My co-editor Karen edited my pieces, and I did the remainder, with the exception of the reprints, which we left as-is.
Ellie: Nicole touched on this a bit in her last answers, but what technology did you use in various stages? What technology worked and what failed?
Heather: We wrote the whole thing in a shared Dropbox. It was our best solution for version control. We also did lots of texting back and forth, and stored more than we ought to have in Gmail. We used one spreadsheet to track where in the process various submissions were, another one for author contact information, and another for tracking reprint permissions.
Emily: Ours was a Google project, we even had a Google Group that we used to communicate with one another, although I think that only lasted a minute before we reverted to email threads. I used a Google spreadsheet to track submissions and due dates and email addresses and follow-ups. We submitted the final manuscript as individual chapters in an email to Rory. Now I use Dropbox to facilitate file transfer from authors in my book series to Library Juice Press/Litwin Books, but that wasn’t part of my workflow back then. Which is funny, because Dropbox is my whole life now. We had a joke at the time that we should publish a paper on how we managed the process of assembling a book—those kinds of articles seem to have so much more traction in library science than some of the political and theoretical work we published in that collection!
Nicole: Our workflow was similar to Emily’s Google experience, where our whole world became Google (or, isn’t it already? heh). We had a Google group for communication, we set up a separate Gmail address for just book emails that Miriam and I shared, we used Google spreadsheets to track everything, and as I mentioned, used Google docs for moving drafts back and forth with feedback and discussion. Miriam and I also heavily used Gchat to discuss progress and process. We used Word for the double-blind peer review so there would not be names attached to any comments, and we erased all author info within the document settings. When we worked with ACRL at the final manuscript stages, we moved to Dropbox and to using only Word and PDF files.
Ellie: How did you connect with your publisher? Did you ever consider going the open source/open access digital publishing route? Self publishing? Why or why not? I know The Librarian Stereotype has been able to make chapters available in institutional repositories, can you talk about that process as well?
Heather: I was first connected with ALA Editions back in 2004 when my then-supervisor Joyce Saricks nudged me to write a book on reader’s advisory for teens. Editions had published her books and she introduced me to her editor there. They liked my work and asked me to take on The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. I feel like I’m a broken record on this—series title dictated many of the decisions, so self-publishing was never a consideration.
Nicole: We chose ACRL specifically because we wanted the book to be directly associated with scholarly work to have a more serious treatment of these topics. ACRL also has great copyright policies for authors, is a non-profit, and as mentioned, willing to create OA PDF versions of chapters (those should be available soon!).
Emily: Our book is explicitly political, so we went with a political press. Rory was right there at the meat salad buffet table with Alana and I as we talked through our idea. We’ve also been able to submit chapters to institutional repositories, but there are only a few on deposit. Librarians are apparently like anyone else when it comes to getting our work in the campus IR!
Ellie: What other details have we not covered? Was there something that you weren’t aware would be a part of the process, or that took more time or was harder than you anticipated?
Heather: Obtaining reprint permissions was hands down our biggest unexpected challenge. That was frustrating because there are certainly pieces out there that I wish we could have included. Finding my coeditor Karen and essentially starting the process over was not something I anticipated at the outset, but it was a wonderful development. It was also much easier than I anticipated to work with someone I’d never met in person at a great distance.
Emily: Heather’s right about the challenge of obtaining permissions. It can be frustrating and expensive! Also, editing means an agreement to enter into many relationships that will likely involve at least some degree of conflict. I didn’t realize how much affective labor would be involved in working with authors. If you’re conflict-averse (like I am!), it’s important to be prepared to face those aversions head on, whether it means saying no to an abstract that you can just tell won’t work, or the hard work of telling an author when something isn’t working. Editing that engages texts critically, productively and with generosity is hard work with an emotional dimension I didn’t anticipate. Doing it in a way that produces the best possible work from friends and strangers is a real skill.
Nicole: I’m not sure if I can think of anything else that Miriam and I haven’t noted already. We did write our own chapter as mentioned, so that entailed a lot more work for us on top of everything else. If both editing and being an author, my advice would be to plan that out well in advance and don’t think you’ll just start working on your chapter once the bulk of editing is done for all the other authors. You’ll be exhausted! Having a “final” date for editing typically doesn’t work out as planned, so we were still doing a ton of editing as we were writing, re-writing, and editing our own chapter.
Miriam: One other thing that we haven’t really mentioned much yet is some of the design and finishing aspects of the book. We have an awesome graphic/comic style chapter from Amanda Brennan and Dorothy Gambrell, which Dorothy created the art for. She figured out the layout of that quite expertly, though it was enlightening to learn some of the copyediting notations for how it would be worked in with the uniform chapter headers and such. Dorothy also designed our book cover (based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data about librarians) with her infographics expertise, which was an absolute lifesaver, as Nicole and I were incredibly stumped on a design, or even what statistics we wanted to represent with the design. Finally, I think everyone is pretty well aware how hard it is to come up with good titles for things, but it was still quite the nerve racking endeavor to find a title we felt really positively strongly about. Like Nicole said, it’s important to plan out well in advance… but there are some things that only happen when they happen, and luckily it all worked out for us!
Ellie: What were your overall feelings about the experience? What did you feel was especially successful? What would you do differently? What would you like to try?
Heather: I feel that the biggest success was bringing all of these voices together. We have over twenty contributors, and they all have something important to say. I feel very fortunate that the book is working as a platform to elevate some really great voices and perspectives. Meeting and working with my coeditor was another great take-away. Due to outside conflicts, the book was just not happening the way it needed to before Karen came on board, and we’ve developed a strong working relationship as a result. If I were to do it again, I’d ask for more pages. There’s so much more that we could’ve covered!
Nicole: It was a great experience and I’m glad Miriam and I got to work together on this. Our authors were fantastic and I’m really proud of what we all accomplished. Most successful I think was actually doing what we set out to do: compiling different approaches to the issue of stereotypes and diversity from the perspective (scholarly) that we were hoping for, and from a diverse group of authors. Of what I’d do differently, hmm, I’d say we were extremely organized with all of our spreadsheets and set dates, but maybe next time I’d want to share a document with all authors so they could see their progress and make sure they’re keeping up with everyone else on deadlines. I’m going to actually keep this in mind since I have another book project starting soon with ACRL Press: Kelly McElroy and I will be co-editing a critical library instruction handbook and have just released our Call for Proposals!
Emily: I love editing. After Critical Library Instruction came out, I picked up the book series gig from Rory Litwin, and that’s been a continued absolute pleasure. Editing means opening the door for other people to do their thing, have their say, and maybe help make that say a little more precise and well-argued. Things I’m always reminding myself to do: say no when no needs to be said. Fulfill ego elsewhere—few people remember the editor, not the tenure review committee, sometimes not even your mom, and if you’re good at your job the reader won’t notice. Work a little every day. Don’t fear email. Big projects are the result of a zillion tiny decisions, so go ahead and make them. And don’t be afraid to commit to print—it’s the only way to keep talking.