Thoughts on starting a book manuscript
So in a nut shell - my sabbatical - my NEH award - this blog series - they are all about getting my dissertation into a book manuscript and submitted to a press for publishing. To be honest, I am still in shock over all the support I have received from my work, funders and most, importantly community members.
But - here is another truth bomb, up to a few days ago.... I had no idea where to start - it seemed a bit like graduate school hazing again. I have a 315 page dissertation on Navajo Sheep, Sheep Butchering, and Sheep's abilities to co-construct our identities. I am in the process of setting up 3 more follow up data collection/community editing events over the next 2 months - (1) conversations with Navajo Butchers who work in USDA slaughter facilities; (2) hosting a talking circle with previous hosts for the Miss Navajo Butchering Event; (3) hosting advisory circles with community members to help with content editing. Then I need to do the final edits into a book. I had so many questions... costs? presses? editing software? IRBs? automated referencing systems? and, the biggest hurdle... WHERE DO I START?
I remember in grad school, one of my colleagues - Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy, hosted a Demystifying the Grant Application Workshop for our fellow NAS graduate students. Just a few hours of help from a peer opened my world to all sorts of funding...including this NEH grant. Now that I had the grant, I needed another demystifying event - this time for manuscripts.
-Before you submit to a publishing press, find an editor. It could be a friend (hopefully in the field of editing) or someone you found through an editing company. This could be pricey - Dr. Greyeyes provided estimates between $400-$1000 and I know that some editing services may charge per page, per word count, or per time spent editing. One of my girlfriends who did side work editing dissertations let me know that dissertation to manuscript editing could run anywhere from $2000-$5000. In any scenario - look into grants, save up, or have your institution invest in your project!
-Think about pixel density for photos. Low pixel photos make for poor image reproduction quality. Higher the pixel count, the better quality the photos.
-Which brings up the suggestion... find a professional photographer. This could be to get quality photos of your cover art and any photos that you have within your text. Dr. Greyeyes mentioned that this could run you $2000 - $5000. Now - I know what you are thinking... FOR PHOTOS! I CAN TAKE MY OWN. Let me tell you - as someone who attempts to take photos of my husband's 2D work and jewelry when we are in a pinch - a professional photographer is not only worth the quality in the end product of your book- but, remember, you are paying for a trained individual to capture a vision for you. So while you may have a way with words, they are artists and this is their job to have a way with the camera ... Let them help you.
-You also want to consider quantity of photos. If you have a lot of photos in your project - try to make sure that they are all directly significant to that section of the book, if a photo can be cut... cut it or the press will cut it for you. Better to have control over the elimination process at the start off.
-I already mentioned costs associated with editors and photographers
-You may also need to also think about help with indexing as well, which could cost roughly $1200. This is the part where the Index with page numbers is compiled at the end of the book. I honestly can tell you that I have seen friends do this part... I have seen them tear their hair out lol. So I know I'll be looking into assistance with indexing. Also, Dr. Greyeyes also suggests to give the indexer (I don't know if that is a technical term but it rolled off my tongue so I am rolling with it) at least 2 months notice so keep this in your timeline.
-Dr. Greyeyes mentioned subvention funds. This is the publishing cost and could run between $2000-$5000. Here is a good spot to make excellent connections with your institution. Think about pitching this as part of your work load or contribution to your institution so that they may help to pick up this cost.
-In short ... you or someone is going to have to put out. This is more than having a computer and buying Word software. But you can be resilient - like a good rez kid - if you know how to barter and trade for services... see who would want a silver bracelet or weaving you made of high quality in exchange for some editing... Just don't be like me and take FOREVER to get those made... I'm sorry, Lauren... I suck sometimes. Your weaving warp is spun and ready for the loom. Lauren Sweetman Babbington is the bad ass editor who helped out tons with my dissertation.
-Throw referencing systems out the window if you want to help out your publishing press. When you transfer the document over, it maintains that system which is a b*tch to edit for them . So manual entry is the most helpful.
-Word document is also the most frequently used although ultimately the writing document that you feel most comfortable with will do.
- You want to check with your potential publishing presses for submission requirements. Dr. Lee and Dr. Greyeyes' series works with the Chicago 17th Edition. They kindly suggested looking up Purdue Owl... But I will tell you what I tell my students in the 400 levels of research classes... just buy the book for crying out loud. 🤣
For Dissertations to Book Manuscript:
-Your literature review will be completely different. I have heard this recently from a writing retreat with the American Indian College Fund from Dr. K. Tsianina Lomawaima. "Your literature review is the first to go," she told us. Dr. Lee explained in the UNM Workship that for the book you will want it to form part of the overarching book narrative. So it is less of a why your work is needed section and more of how your work is integrated into these larger discussions as they are suited for YOUR book's story.
-You need to decided if your entire dissertation content is going to be put into the book or if you are going to focus on part of the dissertation. Dr. Lee gave the example of case studies - does you book want to explore the details of one case study that you explored in your dissertation or does the larger narrative merit the study of multiple case studies as it is reflected in the entirety of your dissertation
ASK THE PRESS
-Every press is distinct. Contact them for the application process. The Studies in Indigenous Community Building Book Series requests the following:
Selecting a Press
We didn't get into details about picking a press - mostly because Dr. Lee and Dr. Greyeyes are strongly encouraging proposals for their series... So check them out and check out their recording of the workshop. It has so many helpful points of departure - like how long a manuscript can be.
-I did learn that this is not like fellowship season...where you apply to all fellowships that you are applicable for in the hopes that someone funds you. ONE AT A TIME, people! Submit a proposal and wait for response (or denial) before moving on. Sometimes this part of the process can be lengthy... so start early
My next blog will let you know about how I am heading out to select a press! And if you have any other words or stories of advice... please add a comment. I promise - I WILL READ THEM!
Just a Tách'inii thinking out loud about butchering, researching, manuscript writing, and life on the Navajo reservation.