Writing a Book: Stefanie Dennis and Patty Falk

Today our guests are Stefanie Dennis and Patty Falk, who are talking about the process of writing and publishing their recent book “Cataloguing Outside the Box.” Buy it from Amazon!

How did the book contract come about? Email to Stefanie from Chandos publishing — call for authors explaining what sorts of things they publish, what they are looking for. Patty had just written a few drafts of articles, and Stefanie asked if Patty was interested. So Stefanie responded to Chandos and they sent link to book proposal — audience, brief outline, title (pubs didn’t like the title) — changed it to “Cataloging Outside the Box”. Publishers responded saying they were interested and some more information about the length, etc. (word length)

Contract — Stef/Patty had never seen a book contract. Consulted Linda Brown about the contract –British English terminology unfamiliar in legal context. Renegotiated some things — more time for indexing. Brit copyright was different than US copyright; royalties; Brit Moral Rights; Could we re-use it? Part of Moral Rights — can use the content, but not just make copies of the actual book/chapters. Agreed to 2nd edition if they wanted it; agreed to find authors if Stef/Patty didn’t want to do it (verbal agreement for five year span). Chandos set the time frame of one year.

Sent things periodically (every month or so). In the contract, said “floppies and hard copy” but they sent a huge word file via email.

Created a calendar for proofs, typesetting, etc. once the manuscript was done. October 2009 manuscript turned in, published in January. Had to do a lot of work/deadlines to review proofs, make revisions, etc. British spelling (Catalogue instead of Catalog, for example). Intended for international audience (switch spell-checker to Brit English in Word)?

Still don’t know exactly how they got Stefanie’s name — except she reviewed

Split work by formats — Patty did music; Stefanie did other things (daily work) collaborated on the authority work and the preface. Used Word and swapped files. Tried to use Google Docs, but the formatting issues were too time wasting.

Easy to write because our daily work; getting examples was hard (and had to correct a lot of cataloging from previous records).

Looked at other cataloging books; liked the ones that had examples; would start a chapter, and then talk about how they would present it, etc. Chandos had asked if it could be used as a textbook — and that’s how they came up with “Challenge Yourself” with answers in the appendixes. Used originals that they had done here.

First typeset had to be very well-proofed because of the MARC record format issues. Authorial “voice” had to be consistent but they write in similar styles to begin with, and the text was pretty cut and dried.

Examples for Challenge Yourself: Scripts often didn’t have titles, or had working titles; Fanzines don’t have consistent titles.

Made little tables with pertinent information so didn’t have to violate copyright with screenshots: title, author, info from the title page, etc. At one point had to contact the author of a score for more information.

What would you do differently? Nothing, really. Patty kept Stefanie on task; Stefanie would do the formatting, technical stuff, etc. Hard to get research time for Stefanie (kids) — used the 4 hours a week at work; late night, early mornings when small children aren’t up.

Publishers were easy to work with; time difference was difficult when had to make the few phone calls.

Index was the hardest part: split chapters up, went through and starting writing down terms with page numbers. MARC tags needed to be indexed. Paper forms to keep track. Didn’t ask for any revisions on indexing.

Kellie and Amy Fyn have indexing experience, for future reference.

Glossary of terms — acronyms, book terms, etc.

Process was easier than a lot of articles that Stefanie has done.

Revisions — “Comment Enabled PDF” comments and annotations on a PDF — comment, add sticky notes, etc. Some changes, etc. were done over the phone while both sides looked at the proof.

Copyright issues with MARC records? Reason they used own records from our own catalog.

[Showed proofs; calendar with specific dates] Calendar moved very quickly — 3 days for this, 2 days for that, etc.

Proposal in in July, took two months to get a response; took about a year and a half for the whole thing.

Okayed the cover, didn’t see it before it was designed. Publisher gave them flyers to hand out as marketing materials.

Updating “Popular Culture Collections in the US”– next project. Exploring how much work it might be.

Asked publisher if there have been reviews, and sales figures, but haven’t heard back. Get paid royalties annually.

Had to fill out a marketing questionnaire (which listservs should they advertise on, etc.)

3 author’s copies — initially sent the wrong book. Very anti-climactic to open the box.

Someone else did the authority record and catalog record in OCLC before they could do it!

Q: Where were some of the first places you were published? BGSU Libraries Newsletter; Abstracts for RILM (Patty) — short, consistent, keeps hand in. Stefanie was a reporter for ACRL conference. Lots of collaboration in LTL at the time because lots of probationers. IRAs for example — we started those here and published on it; first libraries in Ohio to do chat reference; FALCON online tutorial; Conference proceedings; Patty did a lot of poster sessions at MLA (National poster sessions easier to do than a presentation, still national). Collaborated with a social work instructor when changed the instruction method (Stefanie wrote that up with L. Rich)

Stefanie: Bad experience with that article (J of Law and Social Work) — three years until it got published. Editor moved universities, delayed the publication, tenure coming up, no word until actually published.

Patty — easy to co-author with Bill, he had already worked with that journal.

Susannah — ALA “holding a book hostage” — publication date keeps changing. As long as you have a date, you can use it in your probationary binder.

Stefanie — did a lot of reviews because recommended by boss to do a few things on her own. Did reviews in the Charleston Advisor (which is actually a library journal despite the name). They do database reviews — lengthy reviews, peer reviewed! Sign up

Journal of Web Librarianship

PTRC role questions:

Q: How much weight do the presentations carry in a binder? Poster Sessions at National versus a Presentation at a regional? Maybe weighted the same. Want to see variety of activities — how much involvement did you have? A presentation with 3 people versus a poster session that you were sole author. Stefanie is a reviewer for poster sessions — anonymous reviews, had to rank them, 2 different people review each proposal — very competitive. How easy was it to get accepted? ACRL publishes statistics of turn downs — helpful to add that as an accompanying piece of documentation.

Presentations — No one used to know if a presentation didn’t go well, but now with twitter and blogging… everyone knows. Music Cataloging — everyone is doing the same thing, hard to be innovative. Hard to find a niche in popular culture conferences because they aren’t catalogers and don’t really care. Find a niche — hard to stand out if a lot of people are doing the same thing.

Don’t have to be hard-core research study; just has to be peer reviewed. “How we did it good in our library” or “what we did in our library” genre.

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One thought on “Writing a Book: Stefanie Dennis and Patty Falk

  1.   sdennis Says:

    It finally got reviewed and it’s a good one! It’s in the Sept. issue of Journal of Academic Librarianship.