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thoughts on publication

September 8, 2008

After some helpful advice (thank you, ^k^, I don’t know why I didn’t ask The Boy first), and some close rereading of emails, I chose the offer I wanted to accept, and did. Now all I have to do is sign and send back the publication agreement.

I’ve been musing on how different it is to be on the author side of this journal thing. I’ve had many, many dealings with authors as a journal editor, and I know what sorts of authors make editors’ lives hell. I want to avoid being that kind of author. At the same time, the article in question is now my work, so I have some newfound sympathy for authors who reject student edits. I’d like to try to strike a good balance between being an author who refuses to accept any edit without a fight, and an author who lets student editors have their way with her work without question. My topic is a bit arcane and I would be shocked if the students editing it had any expertise with the issues discussed, so I want to make sure their edits don’t change the substance of my argument, but I also don’t want to reject edits that might make my arcane subject a little more accessible.

The entire process of submiting—and getting so many offers—was such a confidence booster for me. That’s why it’s surprising to me that law journals have a large gender disparity in authorship. I’ve seen some commentary recently about the dearth of female authors. Orin Kerr believes (and I tend to agree) that this is the result of fewer submissions rather than of some bias by articles editors; the question then becomes, why do fewer women submit? I think attributing the submission disparity to a fear of rejection is simplistic, but perhaps it plays a bigger role than we might hope. I hear this argument made about law students in general—students at top law schools are generally unused to rejection, having been at the top of their undergraduate classes, high scorers on the LSAT; they tend to have good relationships with professors, they tend to experience less rejection in the job search (whether from law firms or from judges). I think there may be gender differences with respect to sensitivity to rejection (I don’t have any data on this, and I don’t know that anyone has really tried to make this argument). But even if there are, I don’t think fear of rejection can fully explain the gender disparity in submissions. I knew I’d get rejected from many journals—and, indeed, I did. ((In fact, the expedite process seemed to bring on more outright and less politely worded rejections than my original submission probably would have. Note to journal editors: Don’t make the subject line of your rejection email “We cannot publish “Title.” It’s just rude.)) But I accepted rejection as a fact (as I did when I applied to law school, applied to law firms, and when I applied for clerkships. Rejection is not fun in any of those contexts).

I find more resonance in what one author calls a lack of “chutzpah“: “[P]ofessional women do less than men to draw attention to their accomplishments.” ((This latter observation is actually attributed to an international study of professional women.)) I find networking to be one of the most difficult things I am expected to do. I find it extremely difficult to toot my own horn, as it were. I hate to feel as though I am bragging. Yet what I consider bragging is exactly what I have to do—as a lawyer, an author, and a potential academic—if I want to be successful. I do think there are some women—and men, to be honest—who don’t need to advertise themselves in this way; their accomplishments and talents are so evident that success finds them despite themselves. But the rest of us? We mere mortals? We have to market ourselves. And I think women are not as good at marketing ourselves as men are. ((I’ll note that I hate these sorts of blanket statements. Obviously some women are exceptional at self-marketing and I am sure we can all think of more than a few off the tops of our heads. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that as a whole, women generally are not good at marketing themselves.))

But I said I found the gender disparity surprising. And I do. Consider: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being least and 10 being most difficult), I think the difficulty of submitting this paper registers about a 3. It took some time, some research into which journals I wanted to submit to, a little bit of money, and I won’t deny that I experienced some angst while comparing offers, but it wasn’t hard. The hard part came first—writing and editing the damn thing. And I suspect the next few months will be hard, as I revisit my writing during the editing phases. But that several journals thought my paper was worthy of publication? There’s nothing tough about that. I was left feeling really good about myself after the whole process, full of confidence in myself and my talents, and eager to try it again. ((Indeed, I’ve already got a new idea percolating. The muse, she strikes!))

So. I’m on the road to publication. It’s exciting!

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Categories: The Task
  1. Ana
    September 9, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    CONGRATS, K!

    I think the woman thing is a fine line. I read a study somewhere once (really definitive there) that said women were less likely to be go-getters, but that when they were, both men and women found it more offensive than a guy going after something.

    argh. But we should all go after stuff we want regardless!

  2. k
    September 9, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Ooh, Ana, I think I read the same thing. I think it was in a management context, and yeah, you’re right—women who pushed for what they wanted were viewed negatively by both men and women while men who did the same were generally viewed positively.

    Dude. That really sucks, actually.

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