Thursday, November 08, 2007

Testing my Publishing Kharma

The gods will surely hate me for this one...but things are not as bad as they look. I hope.

In my department, we have the remarkably humane minimum tenure requirement: absent a book, four major articles. Thus far, I have one in print, one in press, and now, with the edition under contract, a co-authored introduction and a major stand-alone essay there, too. So, I'm well on my way, given that my critical year is still three years off, and there's plenty of writing in process, including the book project.

There is, however, another essay. It's one of which I'm quite fond. It is an essay submitted for a collection that was accepted last fall. I was a little wary of it, until I found out that my advisor was also contributing something for the collection, even though it was from a new press.

Now, the new press is not one of those almost vanity presses (yet) and claims to have a serious external review process, but it was, until recently, an unknown quantity. But I figured that a publication is a publication (yeah right...I can hear you wincing now).

Since then, I found out that the advisor soon withdrew his contribution, partially because it was solicited for something significantly more visible, and partially because of the dubiousness of the press. But I figured that this wasn't pure damnation for the thing.

But this fall, as I've been reviewing candidate files, I've noticed a handful of freshly minted PhD's sporting advance contracts with this very press. And their samples are wretched. absolutely wretched. In one case it would not have earned an A in one of my graduate courses. The other was not significantly better, either. So the press is looking now like a stinker.

My chair says, after I consulted him on this, that such a pub wouldn't hurt me necessarily, but if this essay were a lynchpin for my file it might not hold up. And if I felt it was a strong essay, that I should be prepared that no one would read it. The essay would essentially be an invisible line on the cv.

On the other hand, the collection is nearing a late stage, and I feel bad pulling the essay at this late date. And even though I know that this publishing scenario is not an ideal one, it still feels unsettling to pull an essay from the "in" column to the "under submission" column.

I haven't made the final decision yet, but I'm 90% sure I'm pulling the essay and putting it back into circulation, and hoping that instant kharma is in fact a superstition.


Sisyphus said...

Hmm, I'd like to hear more about this. When you have no publications, a publication in a crappy place doesn't seem like it could do much harm. (hey! It's a publication! whoo-hoo!)

Would you be interested in blogging a bit more about the whole quality/quantity/tenure/cv review thing, from the professor side? You could add it to the grad compendium.


Horace said...

That's a good idea, Sisyphus. And while I may not be the ideal person to lay out how that hierarchy works (I'm still learning), many of the readers here would be able to fill out the knowledge gaps.