Karen Writes a Book

Attentive followers of the blog may have noticed I did not post last week–one of the very few times since the blog has started that this has happened.

I didn’t post because I had to announce a change to the blog, but I wasn’t clear in my mind what exactly the change would be.

To cut to the chase: I’m actively writing a book proposal for the first Professor Is In book, and in working with agents and editors in a preliminary fashion (I haven’t yet settled on a final agent yet), I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that the book has to include at least 50% new material, material not previously published on the blog.

That means that I have to sit down and do some writing! All my usual bursts of inspiration that hit me each week and inspire the week’s blog post have to be saved up and set aside to go into the book manuscript instead.

Last week I was about to write that I’d be ceasing all new blog posts entirely, but I’ve changed my mind.

I’m going to use the blog to announce and promote upcoming webinars and events, re-post old posts that are pertinent to the cycles of the job market, and perhaps occasionally provide some new advice if anything seems particularly urgent.

But by and large I’ll be holding my new material for the book. (This also has the advantage of freeing my weekly blog-writing time to devote to the book project.)

This is very painful to me because I’m the kind of person that, if I have something I want to tell you, I want to tell you NOW! I don’t want to hold my latest brainstorm about your job documents or interviews to have to sit in writerly limbo for a year… But alas, sacrifices must be made. I know that this book will be valuable and helpful–a far better reference and source for many than navigating a cumbersome blog. And I’m very excited to finally get it done.

And when that happens, I’ll be back here in my favorite writing spot just as soon as I can. And in the meantime, I am still writing on a bi-weekly basis for the Chronicle Vitae site.

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About Karen Kelsky

I am a former tenured professor at two institutions--University of Oregon and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have trained numerous Ph.D. students, now gainfully employed in academia, and handled a number of successful tenure cases as Department Head. I've created this business, The Professor Is In, to guide graduate students and junior faculty through grad school, the job search, and tenure. I am the advisor they should already have, but probably don't.


Karen Writes a Book — 14 Comments

  1. Oh no: your blog is not cumbersome! It’s insightful, fresh, and “has its finger on the pulse” of academic recruitment. Although I would buy a published product from TPII, I imagine that it would come too late — particularly compared to a blog.

    • Personally I think the book should just be a collection of blog posts and people would love it and buy it. I really do. But the “big” agents and editors don’t agree. I could publish with a small press, or even self-publish, under more of my own terms, but i’ve decided I do want to go for the biggest publishing splash I can, and that means I do the writing that they ask for…

      • I agree with you. I would buy a book with republished blog posts from here, collected into chapters, and maybe some new material. Because a lot of people may not have access to your blog, or may not be into blogs but more into books – and also, it’s just nice to have a book as a reference guide, something that you can mark up and add post-it notes to.

        But I think some of the big publishing companies are understandably a bit hostile to the electronic/web environment that threatens their bottom lines, and I understanding needing to feed yourself too. I just hope that maybe just maybe it’s out before Fall 2015!

  2. Congrats on moving forward with your book! It will be a great resource.
    Maybe you can solicit occasional guest posts, so you still have some recent content on the blog, but not written by you?

  3. Congratulations on your plan! Personally I love your blog and refer students to it all the time. I’ll miss the weekly insights.

    I think you would probably sell like hotcakes if you just packaged what you already have as an ebook. For someone coming to that career stage, the convenience of having it all in one contiguous and organized form, rather than searching back through archives, is an easy decision. It’s hard for me to see what a publisher adds to that, unless you have a written commitment for face-out marketing and advertisements.

    I continually use and give out your advice about curating experiences in order of selectivity. My blog is much more valuable to me than publishing a book would be. Yours may be at that level, so please step carefully!

    Your “reader experiences” posts have been great — and they don’t detract from the “new material” requirement, so maybe that’s another way to keep the blog active with minimal writing time.

    • I love your phrase, “curating experiences in order of selectivity.” I am definitely going to solicit guest posts. Want to write one?

      Oh and what the publisher adds to the equation is a rather sizable advance! and the marketing/advertising of a branch of random house, for example!

  4. Sure, if I can be useful in any way, let me know. I feel like I owe you on behalf of all my students!

    People ask me pretty often how to describe public outreach as part of their academic record, maybe something along those lines.

    • I think whatever you consider to be the most pertinent advice you give your own students, or the thing you wish they’d know, or the thing you wish the applicants to positions in your department understood–that is what the best post would be on. Please email me at gettenure@gmail.com to talk it over! thanks for being willing! I want to hear more from the employed and the tenured.

  5. I have to agree with SO’s post. I bought books offering advice on the graduate school which I haven’t consulted since entering my program. My school is now offering workshops on writing the dissertation, the job search and interview process, funding,etc. but these are taught by very young PHds who have little to no real practical experience. My advisors make a fair effort, with some gentle pushing on my part, but simply are not tuned in to the situation current graduate students and newly-minted Phds face in the way that you are. Given this, your blog is the first place I now turn when I need to write a cover letter, prepare for a campus job visit, and so on. As SO said, I can trust that you have your finger on the pulse of this process. This is evident in your blog, in which you have several times altered your advice to fit changes in academia and feedback you received. I’m sure your book would do well–you are very good at what you do–I just will sorely miss this up-to-date tool I have come to trust this year.

    • Thanks for this. I actually don’t expect the writing of the book to take that long—remember, it’s not a scholarly monograph! So I should be back in the saddle before too long!

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