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Publishing in English: Edited Volumes

An upcoming guide to English-language publication for Japanese scholars


(1-2 sentence overview about edited volumes)

Frequently Asked Questions

Sample Call for Contributions


Frequently Asked Questions about Publishing in Edited Volumes

What is an “edited volume?”

How do edited volumes differ from other multi-authored scholarly works?

How does an edited volume get developed?

What is the role of the volume’s editor?

What is the expected role of individual contributors to edited volumes?

What are an individual contributor rights; do they receive royalties, complementary copies or other   compensation for taking part in an edited volume?

How do contributions to edited volumes rank in comparison with publication of referred journal articles and    publication of single-authored monograph?

What is an “edited volume?”

Edited volumes are multi-authored books that have a single editor or small group of editors designed to provide new scholarship on a topic from a broad range of vantage points and disciplinary perspectives.

Edited volumes usually contain original works of scholarship presented in short chapters of 5,000 to 7,500 words, and generally contain 15 to 25 individual essays.  Chapters in an edited volume may be written by an individual author or co-authored.  

Edited volumes may also be called Handbooks or Companions, be labeled as volumes on Special Topics or Issues, and also include Conference Volumes.  

How do edited volumes differ from other multi-authored scholarly works?

Readers are usually large multi-authored volumes designed to be a principal texts in an undergraduate course in a given field, such as history or sociology, or in an interdisciplinary course, such as that on food culture or religions of the world.  Content may include original and reprinted essays.

An Anthology is a volume that usually contains previously published works by a single author (representing a body of their work) or by a group of authors on a give theme.  

A Festschrift is a volume of articles, essays, or reflections contributed by multiple authors in honor of a colleague, usually published on the occasion of retirement.  Increasingly festschrifts are published in online format and or privately published and distributed.  

Proceedings like conference volumes often emanate from a given program or series of events.  Often proceedings are privately published and circulated in print or electronically.  In English the term proceedings is more commonly used for scientific or technical conferences, whereas, in a Japanese context, the English word proceedings is often used in translation to describe summaries and reports generated after a conference or program for distribution to participants, other interested parties, and funding organizations.  

How does an edited volume get developed?

Edited volumes often result from a conference or a series of lectures, or may be commissioned by a publisher, or a topical series of publications produced by a larger publisher.  

A conference organizer who brings an outline of a proposed edited volume to a publisher usually also serves as the volume’s editor.  

Occasionally a publisher may seek a well-known scholar to act as the volume’s editor, especially in cases of special topics volumes and those that are intended for broad classroom adoption.  

What is the role of the volume’s editor?

The volume’s editor is responsible for developing the central themes of an edited volume, compiling a list of potential contributors, and securing the tentative commitment of those contributors.  In the event of a conference volume a contributor’s commitment is generally made in advance of the conference.  

In negotiating the final book contract, the volume editor works with a publisher’s acquiring editor to finalize the volume’s length, number of essays, list of contributors, and timeline, and together they produces a prospectus for the volume for approval by a publisher’s publications committee or board before the final contract for publication can be authorized.

Once a contract is signed, the editor works as an intermediary between the publisher and individual contributors to ensure that contributors adhere to timelines and in liaising on all aspects of the production of the volume.  During that time the volume editor is the point of contact between contributors and the publisher.  

The volume editor generally does the initial chapter editing, working directly with contributors, in accordance with the publisher’s style guidelines.  A volume’s editor may write one or more of the chapters, and may write an introduction, foreword or afterword.  The volume’s editor will also coordinate submission of images and charts, and articulation of bibliographic and biographical information required from each contributor.  

Once the manuscript is submitted to the publisher for copy-editing and final production there are very tight timelines during which sending and return of copy-edited proofs may be done directly with the publisher’s copy editor.  The volume editor’s role is especially crucial in ensuring that all contributors proof and submit final content on time.  Making changes after the final proofs are made are generally charged to the individual authors by the publisher.

What is the expected role of individual contributors to edited volumes?

Individual contributors are usually contacted by the editor(s) of a volume and asked to commit to writing a chapter on a specifically defined subject on a specified deadline.  Contributors generally work directly with the volume’s editor on the initial editing.

In the case of a conference volume a contributor is invited to present a paper at a conference, and may be asked to publish that paper in a subsequently edited conference volume.  

Edited volumes on special topic are often produced after a major political event or natural disaster.  There is often a short timeline to ensure that the volume is published in a timely fashion after the event.  

Individual contributors are expected to keep volume editors apprized of changes in their status or employment and any factors that may impact their ability to deliver their essay and supporting materials on schedule.  Similarly, the volume editor is expected to keep all contributors up to date on any revisions in the volume’s content that relates to individual essays and any change in the publication time that may occur.  

What are an individual contributor rights; do they receive royalties, complementary copies or other compensation for taking part in an edited volume?

Individual chapter authors usually received a contract for their chapter that specifies length, style guidelines, editing and final publication schedule, and the intervening dates when essays, illustrations, and all other front and back matter of the book must be submitted in approved electronic format suitable for publication.  

Individual contributors generally do not receive royalties from an edited volume.  As a rule contributors may receive a complementary copy of the final published edition and/or an offprint of the contributor’s chapter, and usually are entitled to a publisher’s discount for purchase of additional copies.  

The publisher generally holds the copyright to the volume in its entirety. Future use of the published chapter and educational use of the essay is governed by standard copyright and educational fair use practices.  

How do contributions to edited volumes rank in comparison with publication of referred journal articles and publication of single-authored monograph?  

The prestige of publishing in an edited volume ranks considerably below that of publishing a single-authored monograph or a journal article in a top ranked referred journal.  Also the production timeline of an edited volume is completely out of the hands of individual contributors.  These factors are extremely important to young scholars in weighing the time commitment to different publishing venues, and in estimating their impact on their curriculum vitae when coming up for tenure or promotion.

The advantages of publishing in an edited volume may be broader assignment in the classroom.  Also participation in conferences and other programs that generate edited volumes are important venues where younger scholars may become known by their peers and by senior scholars.  Participation in such joint collegial ventures can be a significant benefit and produce long-lasting professional and collegial ties.   

Some publishers especially focus on producing edited volumes and have a well-known track record of sales and global distribution of such editions.  If considering publishing in an edited volume, specifically research the potential publisher and take special note of the kinds and range of monographs and edited volumes that publisher is known for.  


Sample 1: Call for contribtions distributed on mailing list

February 5, 2014

Online Editor: Name <****@**.edu>

Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2014 01:13:27 +0000
From: Name <****@**.edu>
Subject: Call for Contributions Announcement

Call for Contributions (Edited Volume)

Transnational Japan as History: Empire, Migration and Grass-Roots Movements (working title)

Over the last two decades transnational approaches have been fruitfully applied to a wide variety of historical fields. These transnational histories have focused not only on relations between nations-states, but also on elements which transcend national state projects, including relations with and between non-governmental organisations and the flows of ideas, people, capital, technologies, information, goods, practices, disease and pollution which transcend the bounded national community. This volume will bring a transnational perspective to the history of Japan. It seeks to explore how factors beyond Japan's national borders have contributed to the formation of transnational social spaces which have significance for our understanding of Japanese history and of historical methods more widely. The construction of social spaces between interconnected communities problematizes the supremacy of national narratives by incorporating new territories (both literal and figurative) into consideration. We thus believe that a transnational history approach to Japan's modern and contemporary history can only enrich our understanding of the processes that have occurred in Japan during the Twentieth Century.

This volume will combine papers from three different areas of transnational history: empire, migration and grass-roots movements. Firstly, empires are axiomatically transnational polities. A transnational perspective on the Japanese Empire, thus, adds to our understanding of both intra-imperial relations and the place of the Empire within the wider international order. The international migrant is the clearest embodiment of the transnational experience and the study of the movement of people across borders is one of the most representative subjects of the transnational history approach. In particular, this volume will focus on the trajectories of migrants, with an understanding of the historical processes in the sending nations as well as in the receiving societies. Finally, this volume will explore recent cases of grass-roots movements. This type of social movement is characterised not only as a reactive marginal force against the centre of statehood but also as a kind of social activism that is practiced to create connectivity between different socio-cultural contexts. This volume will look at the trajectories of Japanese grass-roots movements in their connection with transnational spaces in their formation and development.

We are calling for contributions for an edited volume focusing on one or more of these themes that also take an explicitly transnational history perspective. We envision this volume will include approximately 12 chapters. We are in discussion with ANU Press for the publishing rights to this volume. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please send us an abstract of between 500-1000 words, and a brief bio or C.V. to ****@**.edu by11 March, 2014. Selected contributors will be informed by 25 March, 2014 and will have 5 months to produce a draft paper which will go through a peer review process.


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