by Africa Hands, Head Editor, INALJ Kentucky
4 Ps of writing and publishing
Many librarians use blogging as a means to express opinions and ideas about library programs and services. We blog about books, we blog about our angst with library systems, we blog about our wardrobe, we blog library and information trends. While blogging is a wonderful channel for expressing one’s point of view and sharing our work in library and information services, there comes a time when one might want to venture into more formal writing and publishing via articles and books.
I recently attended a webinar, New Librarian’s Guide to Professional Writing and Publishing, organized by the New Members Roundtable (NMRT) of ALA. The webinar featured three academic librarians who shared their experiences and insights on writing and publishing. I want to share my notes from the presentation by Beth Evans, Associate Professor and Electronic Services Specialist at the Brooklyn College Library. Beth presented her 4 Ps of writing and publishing.
1. Persistence – Beth openly shared her stories of rejection by well-known LIS journals. Undaunted by these rejection notices, she kept trying and eventually received acceptance from an international journal. Publication in this journal led to an interview for a piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education creating a whole new relationship for Beth.
- Takeaway: Though rejection stings, dust off that article (and your ego) and keep trying. There are other journals, national and international, well-known and lesser known that might be a better fit for your article.
2. Partnership – Partnering creates more opportunities for success. Consider a writing partner for your article or write about a collaborative project. Beth partnered with colleagues on an article that became the cover story for American Libraries.
- Takeaway: Sometimes you can’t go it alone, think about your projects and people you’ve worked with and ask them about writing a piece together. With the growth of embedded librarianship, academic librarians should consider partnering with faculty in other disciplines. The faculty member’s subject-specialty journals also may be a better fit than traditional LIS journals.
3. Promotion – Beth encouraged us to assert ourselves and promote the work we’ve done. Based on her relationship with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Beth approached the publication about a project she was working on and was subsequently interviewed for a story. She also advised us to keep an eye out for important topics of interest, write a response or thought piece, and pitch it a publication.
- Takeaway: Be open to and courageous about telling others about your projects and accomplishments, even if it means sending an unsolicited pitch to a publisher or editor.
4. Preference – We can’t be all things to all journals and publications. Beth advised that we know our preference for what we want to write about and the available outlets for our writing preferences.
- Takeaway: Whether it’s writing book reviews, research studies, or news stories, we each have writing preferences and there are plenty of outlets that suit our style. Know your preference and seek out those opportunities.
The other two presenters on the webinar, Maura Smale and Brian Matthews, also shared extremely useful information related to open access journals and writing in general that I will share in future posts. For now, consider the Beth’s 4 Ps and how you might incorporate them into your writing and publishing efforts.