Coffee heat rising

Askin’ and Writin’

In the writin’ department…

The current Answer to the Great Questions of the World is online at Plain & Simple Press, as is this week’s serialization of Ella’s Story. So…avail yourself of the FREE READS…and if you would please, kindly plug them on Facebook, Twitter, & waypoints, that would be lovely. 🙂

Finally, at last, I’m getting a little traction on the Drugging of America proposal. Can’t recall whether I mentioned this here, at P&S Press, or not at all…but the plan is to peddle this book to a scholarly press (since it’s richly researched). First on the list of prospects is U of Toronto Press, which recently published a rather slight book (as academic books go) about the length of the planned Drugging opus. Short, that is…

I need to make a run on the GDU library to compile a full list. Figure I’ll need at least a dozen. What I used to do — and probably will do again, even though it’s considered dreadfully bad form — is send out proposals to six publishers at a time. Back in the day, I’d have a list of around 20 likely publishers. Then as a rejection came in, I’d just turn it around and send it off to the next outfit on the list. So at any given time, about half a dozen proposals would be on the float.

This is highly problematic. In the first place, editors hate it. In the second, the scholarly publishing club is quite small, so if your idea is striking and your proposal strong, the risk that you’ll get caught out is pretty high. Piss them off and they’ll reject you, no matter how great your idea is.

Creating a book proposal is a project. You need to have completed an introduction and two or three chapters, a table of contents, and a chapter outline. Then you need to survey the market to see what’s out there on the same or related subject and explain how yours is different and why it’s better. You need to articulate the proposed audience and find out how large it is. If you have half a brain, you’ll also suggest some avenues through which the book might be marketed.

For Toronto, I’ll have to update my CV…oh, ugh! An academic CV is a gawdawful long thing, and this one of course will reveal my age, which will make it harder to talk them into buying anything I write.

I’ll also have to unpublish the Drugging of America blog series, because of course they will NOT want to know that this material has been informally distributed online. That will be something we accidentally forget to mention in the proposal.

At this point, the posts amount to draft chapters. So I have seven chapters reasonably close to completion (which will need to be elaborated on), plus I need to write two more from scratch: one on the FDA & its conflicts of interest and one on the practice called “disease mongering” and the medicalization of conditions that do not need treatment or that may not even exist in the patient.

Because seven of the proposed chapters are pretty much in hand (they’ll need some work, but nothing very crushing), I think I can crank the book out by the end of the summer. Today I wrote an introduction and rewrote the bloggity “Overprescription” into full-fledged chapter form. Remaining: revise, edit, clean up the documentation.

If a contract comes in with greater speed than one would expect — say Toronto buys it and they do so within eight or ten weeks — then I certainly will put the thing together by the end of August, at the latest. There’s not that much to do…and some motivation in the form of a check or at least a promise to publish will move what is left to do right along.

A contract in hand will give me access to the Mayo, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and waypoints, thereinat to interview experts on the subject. Some quotes will help a lot, as long as they don’t come across as too very journalistic.

Sometimes academic presses do not pay an advance against royalties. Really, for an academic author, “pay” for a book comes in the form of promotion and tenure, both of which mean substantial salary increases.

Obviously, I’m past the P&T stage of my career. But y’know, I’d like to get just one more book — just one — in print through a real publisher. I mean…well…it’s not like three aren’t enough. But still. Just one more real book through a real publishing house. Please?

Putting your squibs up on Amazon and pretending that makes you a “published author” is great fun in a hobbyist-y way. Sort of like…I don’t know…knitting baseball caps. But it’s totally self-absorbed and self-centered. It doesn’t prove you’ve done anything other than click “post” to upload a file to a gigantic electronic scam. Publishing it is not.

Not real publishing, I mean: in the sense of fazing a book idea past a canny editor and a team of marketers who know what’s good, who know what sells, and who know what the hell they’re doing, then engaging battle with peer reviewers, revising and editing passages again, and so on. When you come to the end of that process, then you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

The overprescription issue is big in Canada. Canadians being brighter than Americans these days are all over the issue, with government-sponsored programs to alert pharmacists, doctors, and members of the public. Although the US has a small effort going, it is as nothing compared to the program Canada has. So I think I can use that interest to my advantage with a Canadian press.

The more I look at the matter, the more astonishing it appears. People in this country are outrageously overmedicated. There’s no question folks in the medical profession know about it — with the exception of some investigative reporting, most of the published reports and assessment of the issue appear in medical journals. But it doesn’t seem to be registering with practitioners. As far as I can see, though, there’s almost nothing out there that is science-based but written for the average Joe or Jane, which is what I propose to produce. Worst Pills, Best Pills, which was the best thing on the market this side of PDR, went out of print years ago, replaced by a pay-to-peek website.

I’m dead sure there’s a market for a plain-English book that describes the problem, how to recognize when it’s happening to you, and how to deal with it.