Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
Be Realistic About Criticism
From Aspiring Author to Published Scholar
Professional Roles and Publishable Writing
Academic authors would do well to abandon the fantasy that the editor’s and reviewers’ responses to their manuscript will be, “Please, don’t change a word”. An editor with 25 years of experience editing a journal reported that she could recall just five occasions when this was the response of three independent reviewers to a manuscript and, in every case, the author was one of the most highly regarded experts in the nation. Accept that the act of submitting a manuscript invites critique and that a recommendation to “revise and resubmit” is a positive outcome. Too often, authors allow their feelings to be hurt, withdraw the manuscript rather than make the requested revisions, or fire off an indignant, defensive e-mail to the editor. Just as a professor does not expect a standing ovation at the conclusion of each class taught, writers should not expect uncritical acceptance of each manuscript submitted. Accept that writing is not the most time-consuming part of the process; it is rewriting a manuscript and revising it significantly 15 times or more that is the most challenging. Those disappointing early drafts can be revised into something publishable, but all of this needs to occur before the work is formally submitted to an editor and reviewers.
Read “Writers on Rewriting” for some quotations from some of the most celebrated authors on About Education at: http://grammar.about.com/od/advicefromthepros/a/rewritequotes.htm
Too often, the same authors who are reluctant to share a manuscript face-to-face with a respected colleague are emboldened by the anonymity of peer review. With the technology tools now used by most professional publishers, authors truly can submit a manuscript at the touch of a button. It is easy to get sick and tired of a manuscript and want to check it off the “to do list”. It almost never works to submit what is admittedly a very flawed manuscript in the hope that reviewers and editors will tidy it up or lead the author out of muddleheaded thinking. Perhaps the two most important things writers can do to improve chances of publication success are to: (1) let the manuscript “sit” for a while, return to it, and revise—even after it shows every indication of being ready to submit—and (2) solicit the input of a known audience before the work is sent to an unknown audience.