Thinking of Tackling That Summer Project? We Have Advice for You!

Emily Joan Elliott Discussion

A post from Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications.

A post by Emily Joan Elliott, associate director of research and publications, H-Net.

With May upon us, here at Feeding the Elephant, we will begin to post every other Wednesday through Labor Day. As many of our readers also prepare for summer break and consider tackling big projects, we wanted to share some of the highlights from our Working with Your Editor series. This summation is not necessarily comprehensive but is filled with useful tidbits.

Do you want to know something about the process that is not covered here? Pitch us an idea!

Developmental Editing

Laura Portwood-Stacer, Working With Your Editor: Developmental Editing, July 29, 2020.

Do you need some guidance tackling the big picture, improving structure, refining your prose? If so, a developmental editor might be for you. Developmental editors, Portwood-Stacer says, can give your work their undivided attention, ensure that the most important points have the greatest impact, and make your work accessible to wider audiences.

Since developmental editors work independently, hiring one can be an additional cost that is out-of-reach for some authors, but Portwood-Stacer recommends seeing what funding your department, college, or university can provide. 

Johanna Schuster-Craig, Working with Your Editor: Working with a Developmental Editor, August 5, 2020.

 Johanna Schuster-Craig found that books on publishing a monograph did not fully demystify the process for her.

“Working with a developmental editor who had had a career in academic publishing was an effective way to bridge that knowledge gap and also helped me find my voice as a writer,” she writes for the Elephant.

Schuster-Craig further cites using a developmental editor to help her see both the forest and the trees as she wrote, in addition to providing her with feedback as she experimented with various writing styles and genres.


Peer Review

Dawn Durante, Working with Your Editor: Ten FAQS about Book Peer Review, September 9, 2020.

Dawn Durante begins by answering a basic yet often hard-to-answer question: “What is the purpose of peer review?”

In this post, Durante tackles other important questions about how to submit proposals, what to expect as proposals and manuscripts are undergoing evaluation, how presses conduct peer review, and more. Some tidbits that might be of interest are: yes, you can recommend peer reviewers and yes, the reviewers will know that you are the author of the piece.

Importantly, peer review does not end when you receive feedback and includes more than just making changes. Authors will also need to write a letter addressing the reviewers’ comments and how the author may (or may not) address them.

Sian M. Hunter, Working With Your Editor: Crafting a Letter of Response to Peer Reviews, May 4, 2022.

Scholars are familiar with peer review, but, as Sian M. Hunter points out, fewer understand the importance of what comes next, especially the formal, written responses to reviewer comments that will go to the editorial board.

Hunter recommends that authors take several days to fully read through and process the comments that peer reviewers provided. While authors are not expected to execute every recommended change, they should consider and engage all comments when formulating a response.

Your letter, Hunter explains, “is also typically included in the final manuscript docket sent to press editorial board members for discussion and vote on final publication approval.”


Catherine Cocks, This One Simple Trick Makes Permissions Easy and Fun, August 12, 2020.

Just kidding! Catherine Cocks provides our readers with not one, but TEN tips for dealing with permissions needed to publish copyrighted materials in your manuscript.

Start the process early and check in often! As you reach out for permissions, please remember that you will most likely incur the associated cost and may need to provide the rights’ holder with a gratis copy of your work.

Make sure to read the fine print of the license, keep diligent records, and share them with your publisher.

Walter Biggins, Working with Your Editor: Previously Published Material in Your Manuscript, July 15, 2020.

Most authors realize that they may need permission to use copyrighted material made by others, but they may neglect something equally as important.

In this manuscript, you should ask yourself, what of my own work has appeared elsewhere, and what should I do about that material?” states Walter Biggins. 

Biggins outlines what sort of writing scholars may have reproduced in their manuscripts that may need permissions to be republished in your manuscript, even if your work has significantly changed, due to the agreements you signed with the publisher. Often, these permissions are free.

Manuscript Transmittal

Clare Jones, Working with Your Editor: Manuscript Transmittal and Launch, March 23, 2022.

“Is everything here? In the right amount and order? Is it ready to whisk into a book?” These are the questions Clare Jones suggests that you ask yourself as you prepare for the final submission of your manuscript.

Make sure to send along all files, images, and permissions in the correct format.



Amanda Frost and Anastasia Wraight, Working with Your Editor: What to Expect When Your Book Is in Copyediting, March 10, 2021.

“Although your production coordinator and copyeditor will be aiming to reconcile any inconsistencies, correct grammatical or punctuation errors, and fix typos and misspellings that may have slipped in during the writing, your copyeditor will not make or suggest major revisions to your book,” say Amanda Frost and Anastasia Wright. They also explain that many issues that arise in copyediting often stem from citation issues.

Amy Sherman, Working with Your Editor: Your Relationship with Your Copyeditor, May 11, 2022.

If there is one takeaway from Amy Sherman’s piece, it’s this: “Your copyeditor is your ally, not an antagonist.”

Copyediting consists of only a single round of edits. In addition to tracked changes, authors may also see queries and calls for clarification. 

As you respond to your copyeditor, avoid a defensive tone and appreciate that your copyeditor “is applying their own expertise toward helping the author improve the piece.”


Rosemary Sekora, A Publicist’s Guide to Completing Your Book’s Marketing Questionnaire, May 18, 2022.

“[I]n today’s crowded marketplace, academic publishers have to rely on authors’ promoting their new books,” writes Sekora. 

Filling out the questionnaire, Sekora explains, allows publicists to determine the best avenues for publicizing your work. Sekora recommends that you don’t assume anything is obvious, be specific in your answers, and ask your publicist questions.

Megan Kate Nelson, The Book Writing is Done! Now the Promotion Begins. February 3, 2021.

After submitting your page proofs is not the time to relax, according to Megan Kate Nelson. A few days after that momentous event, authors absolutely need to call their publishers.

As you prepare to work with your publisher to draw attention to your book, you should consider the value of op-eds and features about your book, appearing on podcasts, pitching public talks, and using social media effectively.


The following articles cover more specific aspects of publishing that may also be useful.

Catherine Cocks, Why Is My Book So Expensive? The Cost of a Scholarly Monograph, February 10, 2021.

Samuel Cohen, Rebecca Colesworthy, et al., How to (Build Solidarity with University Presses So They Exist to) Publish Your Book: A Roundtable, March 31, 2021.

Dawn Durante, Working with Your Editor: Requesting Letters of Support, June 10, 2020.

Editorial, Design, and Production (EDP) committee of the Association of University Presses, Are My Images Good Enough to Print? Some Tips for Authors, May 12, 2021.

Victoria Smolkin, On Translation, November 3, 2021.

Erin Thompson, Guest Post: Publishing with a Trade Press to Reach a Wider Audience, December 11, 2019.

Have something to say on this topic? Reply to this post! Or email the Elephant about writing for us. We welcome submissions from stakeholders on all sides of scholarly publishing. Find us on Twitter @HNetBookChannel and use the hashtag #FeedingTheElephant. You can also find us on Mastodon at