Sunday, September 12, 2010

annals of academic publishing, part 437

Back in February 2008 I got a nice email from a journal editor (henceforward we'll call him "JE"), asking me to write a brief review of Maeera Shreiber's Singing in a Strange Land: A Jewish American Poetics (Stanford 2007) for his journal (henceforward "Journal"). So I had 82 other things to do that semester & over the coming summer; so I was swamped as usual; so of course I said "sure, send me the book!"

Well, true to my word, I got my review in by the end of July (2008, remember). And a nice thank-you from JE. "We'll be in touch if it needs anything." And then I forgot all about, confident that Maeera's work was going to receive its due in Journal.

Flash-forward to February 2010. I get an email from another journal who's lost my mailing address; they want to send me offprints of a review I wrote for them over the summer of 2009. And my memory is jogged about that Shreiber review. So I dash off an email:

Just got an email from another journal, tracking me down for offprints of something of mine they published last year & forgot to tell me about, and it reminded me of this review of Maeera Shreiber's Singing in a Strange Land written for [Your Journal] year before last. Was it ever published? Did it somehow go astray?

The response?:
Dear Prof. Scroggins,
I am the new editor of [Our Journal] -- [JE] is no longer with the journal -- and as I look through our files, I see that the review was scheduled to be published in issue 40.3 but somehow was not. I'll reschedule its publication for our next issue, which will be 41.3
With many apologies,
[New Editor]
Ah, gotta love that "somehow." A vague way of saying "oops, lost in the files." And earlier this week – a solid two years after I submitted the piece – I received contributor's copies & offprints of the review.

I don't think they do it this way at the New Yorker. Anyway, if you're interested in reading what I have to say about Maeera Shreiber's excellent (but no-longer-so-new) book on American Jewish poetry, backchannel me & I'll give you the actual citation for my laggard publisher.


Steven Fama said...

Glad that it is in print. But you needn't, I don't think, be coy about the journal name. Google up the author name, book title and your name and fairly near the top of the search results you will see listed issue 41:3 of the. . .

. . . well, okay, I won't name it either....

The usually vague "somehow" might be accurate here. The new editor may not know wtf the old one did, or didn't do.

Sounds like an interesting book. I assume Reznikoff gets the once-over in it, yes?

Archambeau said...

This is why blogs are such a godsend, isn't it? They're fast, and available everywhere. I mean, odds are more people will read your post about the review than will ever read the review itself.

At some point, we should seize control of the MLA and institute some guidelines for academic recognition of blogging. Or maybe not. Maybe it's better when there's no kind of reward. I mean, I dread the day when grad schools start requiring students to blog for credit.


Anonymous said...

In 2003, out on the job market, I sent Modernism/Modernity an article and then waited about a year not hearing anything before I finally wrote the managing editor to see what was up. She said she'd look into it, meanwhile I heard nothing -- three months. Wrote again. Heard this time that it was being forwarded to the editor to whom I'd directed it the first time. So they had it! Then nothing. I gave up and sent it elsewhere (American Literature, I think) and had my rejection in three months. (That article now sits in Jacket 26.)

But it's not just academic journals. Cleaning out an office in 2006, a Boston Review managing editor found a note Tim Donnelly had written praising a critical piece I had submitted, and asking for more work. Only it was two years between when he wrote it and his sub-editor actually posted it.

It's one thing to sit on mss. a year -- don't know an editor to whom it hasn't happened. But losing them and then letting the poor soul stew in his lack of recourse is another; which is why I sign this happily,
Jeff Hamilton