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Professional Development Workshop

Columbia University / Department of Music
Handout prepared by Ellie Hisama
Revised January 2010


Submit only well-argued, well-written, polished work. Get a faculty members opinion
on whether she/he thinks your paper/dissertation are publishable, and in what form. It
will not help your career to submit half-baked, seminar paper-like articles. For your first
few attempts to get published, work on the article with a faculty member before you send
it in. Even after you receive your degree, you should draw upon the expertise of former
faculty and your colleagues. Submit to the appropriate place (more on that below).

Dont sit on your work foreverget it out there. If its a solid, interesting, and well-
written study, theres a very good possibility that you can get it published. Follow up on
invitations from editors/editorial board members. If youre petrified about the prospect of
publishing, youre in the wrong business.


Reviews in journals are typically solicited. Dont review a book and then send it out
randomly to journals in hopes that it will be published. Few journals accept unsolicited
reviews. Contacting an editor to offer your services as a reviewer may annoy or suggest
that you have an ax to grind. To be selected as a reviewer, you have to be known to the
review editor or to someone who has a connection to the reviews editor. Build a
reputation in an area or areas through solid conference presentations and publications,
and you are likely to be asked to review down the road. Ask your adviser for advice about
getting an invitation to review.

Although reviews dont have the weight of a peer-reviewed article, a smart review will
get you noticed, and will establish you as possessing expertise in a particular area.
Sometimes your review will be picked up as a blurb on a paperback edition or on a
publishers website, enhancing your credentials.

Do not trash whatever you are reviewing, even if youre tempted to do so. Although
criticism is not out of place, you dont have the luxury to position yourself as the expert
at this stage of your career. Writing nuanced criticism is an art worth developing. Share
your review with a seasoned reader to get another perspective.


Some journals will be more receptive than others to your work. Make sure you select one
thats a real possibility, given your topic, approach, and quality of the paper. There is a
pecking order in journalsask the advice of your professors about how different journals
are viewed and where you should submit.

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Do not double submit! I.e., your article cannot be considered by more than one journal at
a time. Also do not submit more than one article at a time to a journal (its not Lotto),
and do not expect to be published multiple times in one journal during a short span (some
editors wont allow two articles by the same person within five years).

If you have a question about whether your article would be appropriate, contact the editor
in advance before you lock up your article in peer review (it could be many months, or
even years, in some cases, before you hear back).

Follow directions to the letter about how to submit (remove self-identifying information,
supply the proper number of copies, send electronic copy if requested, etc.). Visit the
journals website for updated information about how to submit an articledont go by
whats printed in a past issue. For a peer-reviewed journal, you must remove identifying
information in any form (no running headers, hints in the acknowledgments [Thanks to
my colleague John K. Smith in the Department of Communications at Montana State
University; For a cogent discussion of hip hop culture in Southern Illinois, see my
dissertation, TITLE], etc.). Check the Properties tab under the File menuremove
any identifying information (read the helpful article Microsoft Word's Hidden Tags
Reveal Once-Anonymous Peer Reviewers by Jeffrey R. Young, published in the
Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 April 2006). PDFs do not have the identifying tag,
but the editor may require that you submit a Word or .rtf doc (that way they can do a
work count, check to make sure its anonymous, use Editor in Word, etc.).

In the cover letter, give all identifying information including title of article and your
affiliation/position, if any, and email address. A brief abstract is helpful as well, even if
not required. Dont send your CV, or use the letter to establish your credentials. Do have
an up-to-date web profile which makes such information easily available.


Chapters in books typically come about through invitation of the editor, a call for papers,
or a conference/symposium/panel that develops into a collection of essays. Check out
listservs and websites for CFPs for edited collections. Present your work widely. Build up
a reputation in an area or areas through conference presentations. People may think of
you when theyre compiling a contributors list for a collection of essays. Be forewarned
that these collections can take several years to appear. Herding a dozen or so contributors
to publication is quite a task for the editor(s). If you find your essay locked up in a
collection that seems it will never appear, consult with your advisors. You dont want to
wait forever; on the other hand, finding another publication venue may not be easy.


Transforming your dissertation into a book is a possibility to consider, depending on your
topic and quality of the diss. Publishers will consider good dissertations, and many have
been published (see appended list). They will not publish your dissertation as is, so you
need to reshape it into something of interest to a reading public larger than your
five-person dissertation committee. (See recommended readings at the end of this
document for ideas about revising the diss.) Some dissertations are not publishable. You
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should consult with faculty members about whether yours is one to rework or not. If its
not, you might publish parts as journal articles. Or it might be time to move on to a new

If youve never seen a book proposal, ask a faculty member or a recent PhD for a copy of
one. Good models can really help.

Its generally considered permissible these days to double submit a book proposal, as
long as you inform each publisher and they give an OK. The review process can be cut
down considerably if theres competition to publish your book, and you may be able to
negotiate a better contract.

You can try to negotiate the terms of the contract regarding format (paper/cloth printing),
royalties, number of free copies, first option to buy remainders, covering permission fees,
choice of cover, getting an advance, deadline to turn in typescript, and other items. You
often dont have the luxury of negotiating the terms as a first-time author, but its worth a
shot. Get the advice of an experienced faculty author for your first contract.



If your submission is not acknowledged shortly after receipt, or months go by and you
havent heard anything, a polite inquiry is in order. But do not pester the editor after one
week, or every few weeks. Your submission is one among many and it may take a while
to receive a decision. Do not sound frustrated or impatient with the editorhe or she may
be doing the editorial gig with no release time, and its on top of teaching, administration,
committees, personal life, etc. Remain professional at all times. Do not annoy the editor.

Your work will be (and needs to be) edited. Every writer can benefit from working with
a keen editor. Keep an open mind to suggestions for revisions. If comments by the reader
or editor upset you, wait 24-48 hours before respondingyou may later regret how you
responded in the heat of the moment, and youll develop a reputation for being a difficult
writer. (The academic world is small and word travels fast.) Maintain a polite tone, even
if you strongly disagree with the suggestion. Usually the editing process is one of give
and take. If your editor treats you rudely, maintain a professional stance if it kills you.
The point is to get your work published, not to engage in battles with your publisher,
editor, or peer reviewers. Rudeness/thoughtless remarks may come back to haunt you

Not all editors edit well, and once youre out in the world, your former adviser will have
a new crop of students to focus on. Learn to edit yourself.


Typically for music journals, your submission is sent to two readers, who are usually not
given your name (double-blind review). It can take anywhere from 1 month to 6
months or longer for the editor to get the reports back from the readers (often the cause of
delays in getting a publication decision). Readers are not paid, and they are taking on the
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work on top of everything else so it may not be a top priority to send in the report by the
deadline. If theres a split vote, the editor may weigh in, or your article may go to a third

Ideally, the readers reports will be thorough and helpful, written by a smart,
knowledgeable, and kind reader. Even if your article or book is rejected or returned to
you for revisions, you should review the reports. Sometimes the reports will be quite
frank and may hurt your feelings. Take a deep breath, and do not give up at the drop of a
hat. The reports may sting, but they may be ultimately useful to you in the long run. If
you feel that aspects of the report do not sufficiently address your article, rework the
article and respond, calmly, point by point to the reports. Maintain a professional tone
through all your exchanges with the editor, even if you arent happy, the reports
contradict one another, or they just make your blood pressure rise. The journal may not
be a perfect fit. Get the opinion of a faculty member or perceptive colleague if youre
unsure how to proceed. An invitation to resubmit is no guarantee of publication. But its
a more positive sign than many.

Acceptance rates vary quite a bit, journal to journal. The annual business reports of
professional societies often have statistics about the number of submissions and number
of acceptances.


Proofreading requires keen attention to formatting, a final check that quotes are replicated
word for word, proper page references, clear reproduction and proper placement of
examples and figures, watching out for stray words sitting on a single line (orphans),
bad line breaks, correct captions, etc. Do not return your proofs with one thing circled
and a note Looks great! (Mistakes always happen. If you give me your proofs, I will
find something to fix.) Do not return your proofs with major rewritingthis is not the
time, and causes the publisher and editor a major headache (and you may be charged $).
Study the proofing marks in the Chicago Manual of Style. Do not be late returning
proofs. (The editor and press have the right to move on without your corrections.) If you
cant avoid being late (your baby was born the previous week and you havent slept two
hours in a row; family is visiting and decided to stay an extra week in your writing space,
etc.), contact the editor before the deadline hits and try to negotiate more time.

When writing a book, ask to see the second proofs, which is the proof stage after your
corrections to the initial proof set have been entered. Ask to see a proof of the cover. If
theres anything amiss with the proofs (your corrections were not entered) or you cant
stand the cover design, speak up: contact the editor and if necessary the production editor.


Start seeking permissions early (once the article is accepted; ask the editor what you
should seek). State in your request letter that the publication will have a small audience
and that you will receive no royalties (if true) for the publication. See if the publisher has
an online request form. To hasten the process, you can provide two copies of the
permission letter and a self-addressed, stamped envelope so that all the person has to do
is sign and return it to you. If you are faced with large permission fees, seek funds from
professional societies (AMS and SMT both have funds to pay for permissions), your
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universitys funding sources, and other sources. If you dont get a reply after a few
weeks, send a follow-up request in a few weeks to a month. You may have to get on the
phone to pry loose a reply. If you never get a reply, keep all written correspondence to
show that you made a good-faith effort (you may need this documentation later). Consult
with the editor, who may consult the publishers lawyer if theres a question about rights
and fair use. For a non-US based publisher, you will have to follow fair use in the home
country (dont assume that US law will apply). Use ASCAP and BMI databases to find
out who holds the rights to the work on living composers and musicians. Consult with
colleagues who work in the same area; they will have dealt with permissions from the
same people.


Be findable. Have a webpage (make it tasteful). Join professional societies (youll be
listed in the directory).

Make sure your first and last names are listed as the sender in your emailotherwise it
might get deleted. Be professionaldont use a goofy email address as your professional
contact (e.g., This applies to job and fellowship applications as

Do not have information about you lurking on the web that you wouldnt want a potential
publisher or employer to find.

Use your contacts (professors are in an excellent position to help you or guide
opportunities your way).

Go to conferences. Present, mix, and mingle. You can speak with publishers at their
booths, and sometimes can schedule a time to meet about your idea for a book. Or you
can meet an editor and run your project by him/her. Its always helpful to have some
face-to-face contact. Avoid pestering, however (e.g., if you see an editor enjoying a
cappuccino with a dinner companion; dont go up to the table waving your latest
dissertation chapterwait until s/he is back at work at the conference. There are good
times and bad times.)


Germano, William. From Dissertation to Book. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
2005. [Routledge editor.]
Germano, William. Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and for Anyone Else
Serious about Serious Books. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Luey, Beth. Handbook for Academic Authors. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Luey, Beth. Revising Your Dissertation: Advice from Leading Editors. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2004.
Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6

edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. [Youll need this style
manual when finishing your diss.]
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Selected journals to consider sorted by type/area

American music
American Quarterly
Black Music Research Journal
Jazz Perspectives
Journal of the Society for American Music
Musical Quarterly
Perspectives of New Music
twentieth-century music
Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture

Cultural studies/interdisciplinary work
Cultural Critique
Critical Inquiry
New German Critique

Asian Music
Ethnomusicology Forum
Latin American Music Review
Popular Music
The World of Music
Yearbook of Traditional Music
[and consider journals in anthropology and folklore]

Gender/Sexuality/Womens Studies
Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture
Feminist Studies
[and try the old warhorses! Just because theyve never published an article on X doesnt mean
they never willyour could be the first.]

Music theory
Dutch Journal of Music Theory
Indiana Theory Review
Journal of Music Theory
Journal of Mathematics and Music
Journal of Schenkerian Studies
Music Analysis
Music Theory Spectrum
Music Theory Online
Perspectives of New Music
Theory and Practice
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Acta Musicologica
Current Musicology
Early Music
Journal of Musicological Research
Journal of Musicology
Journal of the Royal Music Association
Journal of the Society for American Music
Music & Letters
Musical Quarterly
Perspectives of New Music
18th-century music
-century Music
twentieth-century music

Journal of Popular Music Studies
Journal of the Society for American Music
Popular Music
Popular Music and Society
Women and Music
(see old warhorses, above)

Grad Student-run Journals
Current Musicology
Indiana Theory Review
Journal of Schenkerian Studies

Non-music specific journals with interests in music
Critical Inquiry
Cultural Critique

Also consider newsletters of professional societies and institutes, encyclopedia entries, liner
notes, online publications. Some are quite good, with wide circulation (e.g., the H. Wiley
Hitchcock Institute for Studies in American Musics American Music Review, which reaches over
4,000 international subscribers), and youll get a larger readership than you would by publishing
in a small journal with a limited readership. Just dont spend gobs of time writing small pieces
and reviewsfocus on the bigger picture.
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Selected List of Music Dissertations that Became Books [please send updates to E. Hisama]

Compiled by Ellie Hisama & Mark Katz

Mark Tucker Musicology, Michigan Ellington: The Early Years (1991)
Robert Walser Musicology, Minnesota Running With the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in
Heavy Metal Music (1993)
Ronald Radano Musicology, Michigan New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxtons Cultural
Critique (1994)
Tricia Rose American Studies, Brown Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in
Contemporary America (1994)
David Brackett Composition, Cornell Interpreting Popular Music (1995)
Suzanne Smith American Studies, Yale Dancing in the Streets: Motown and the Cultural Politics of
Detroit (1999)
Benjamin Filene American Studies, Yale Romancing the Folk: Public Memory and American Roots
Music (2000)
Adam Krims Music Theory, Harvard Rap Music & the Poetics of Identity (2000)
Ellie Hisama Music Theory, CUNY Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth
Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon (2001)
Albin Zak Musicology, CUNY The Poetics of Rock: Cutting Tracks, Making Records
David Ake Musicology, UCLA Jazz Cultures (2002)
William Bauer Composition, CUNY Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter (2002)
Cheryl Keyes Ethnomusicology, Indiana Rap Music and Street Consciousness (2002)
Eric Porter American Studies, Michigan What Is This Thing Called Jazz? African American
Musicians as Artists, Critics, and Activists (2002)
Derek Vaillant History, Chicago Sounds of Reform: Progressivism and Music in Chicago,
1873-1935 (2003)
Mark Katz Musicology, Michigan Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music
Tammy Kernodle Musicology, Ohio State Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams
Joseph Schloss Ethnomusicology, Washington Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip Hop (2004)
Five Percenter Rap: God Hops Music, Message, and Black
Muslim Mission (2005)
Mark J. Butler Music Theory &
Ethnomusicology, Indiana
Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter, & Musical Design
in EDM (2005)