I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from friends and colleagues who are a few steps behind me in the tenure-book process, mostly about what the process entails and how the schedule runs. Your mileage, depending on your project and your press, may vary, but this is how my book production schedule played out:
January 2015 — Initial contact with the press and series editor. A colleague introduced me to the editor of the Indiana Series in Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies, who invited me to submit a proposal. After I submitted the proposal to him and to an acquisitions editor at the press, I was invited to submit my manuscript for review. (It’s worth mentioning that Indiana was the third press I had approached and had conversations with. I sent out many more proposals cold, but the places where I at least had an initial expression of interest were presses where I had some kind of “in” or contact with someone there or introduction from someone with good contacts. More advanced colleagues told me that it’s completely normal to have to approach two or three presses before finding a good fit. And it really is a question of fit; even though Indiana wasn’t the first press I had thought to approach, I’ve ultimately been really happy with how it places my book within my field and I can’t say enough good things about how the press has been to work with.)
May 2015 — Submitted manuscript for review.
October 2015 — Received comments from reviewers and contract from the press.
March 2016 — Submitted final manuscript after revising according to the reviewers’ suggestions and critiques. (I fully rewrote the introduction and conclusion, added an additional chapter that I had still been writing at the time I submitted the manuscript for review, and refined the argument in the existing chapters per the reviewers’ critiques as well as things that I myself had identified as needing revision. Ideally I would have spent more time on those revisions if I’d had it.)
July 2016 — Got files from copy editor. The typescript of the book came back from the copy editor with questions, corrections, and queries about stylistic inconsistencies, etc. I didn’t have the time (or the funding) to be able to do this, but I think that in the future, when I don’t have such a drop-dead deadline, I would hire an outside copy editor who has worked specifically in my field and whose work and judgment I trust to do a first-pass copy edit before submitting the final manuscript. One final thing: in between the time that I submitted the final manuscript and the copy editor doing his work, I realized that I could put a date on the medieval manuscript that is the main source for my book. Fortunately I was able to add a few paragraphs in at this point to be able to include that information in the book.
Sept 2016 — Worked with copy editor on outstanding questions.
November 2016 — Received proofs from the press. In spite of the instructions only to identify typographical and typesetting errors (of which there were plenty), I definitely did some polishing of the prose that I just didn’t have the time or the distance from the writing to be able to do before my initial submission. This was the moment when it really started to look like a book and the point at which I finally had enough distance to not hate it as much as I had.
December 2016. Returned proofs to press and answered outstanding queries.
January 2017. Proofs to indexer. All advice I received told me to hire someone to do the index for the book, so I did. It didn’t strike me as something particularly onerous, but apparently it is; and to be honest, I’m happy not to have one more thing to have to do for this project. I received a grant from the Humanities Center at NYU to pay my indexer, who is a PhD student in my department who does freelance editorial work.
Spring 2017. Expected publication of book!