This guest post comes from Tim Bale, Queen Mary, University of London.
I can’t be the only person to have experienced this: you’re writing a book and you realise that it’s either getting too long and/or that some of the stuff you thought should go into it doesn’t really fit any more. So, reluctantly but also with a sigh of relief, you cut it.
But then what do you do? Bin it completely in spite of all the hard work you put into it? Really? Sure, that’s the sensible thing to do – the thing you’d be perfectly happy doing if you were a totally rational individual rather than a living, breathing human being prone to practically all the cognitive biases under the sun: in this case the so-called sunk cost fallacy.
In reality, what you often do, if you’re anything like me, is to think whether there’s something you could do with it somewhere else. I mean, you could always turn it into a journal article, right?
Wrong! At least in my case. At 18,000 words and with a whole bunch of endnotes, it was going to be agony trying to cut it in order to make it short enough for a decent journal. I did explore the possibility of going in the opposite direction and beefing it up to come up with the 25,000 required for those short (and short turn-around) books that a couple of well-known publishers now seem quite keen on. But two things about that, put me off.
First, I would have been topping and tailing it with ‘theory’ for the sake of it – something I hate doing. And, second, have you actually seen how much those things cost!? Only university libraries could possible afford to buy them, and I’m not really sure (morally speaking) that even they should be spaffing forty or fifty quid on such footling things anyway.
In any case, I had the temerity to think that what I’d written might be the sort of thing that people who were simply interested in, rather than formally studying, British politics, contemporary history and the EU might enjoy reading. I also thought that, since it was originally written to be ‘approachable’, it might come in handy, too, for anyone teaching those subjects – both at post-16 and post-18.
One alternative would have been to stick it up as a post on my blog. Yet, to be honest, it wouldn’t really have fitted too well because that’s simply where I collect (mostly for my own memory’s sake rather than because many people read it there) the very short-form stuff I write for newspapers and websites. But no-one else was going to host it, I was sure – so sure I didn’t even ask anyone.
It was only then I thought about self-publishing it. Initially, I dismissed the idea – I mean, that’s ‘vanity-publishing’, right? OK for your pseudonymous erotic novel but, for something academic? Surely not?Continue reading “Self-publishing academic work”