(For previous installments see here and here.)
Just before the holidays, I heard back from the publisher to whom I'd sent my book manuscript back in August. The response was, on balance, about what I'd expected: revise and resubmit. I'd known that the manuscript still needed another full round of revisions, and though I'd been hoping that I might get a contract first--with publication contingent on approval of those revisions--I'm not disappointed by this result.
Partly, that's because I got an amazing outside reviewer: someone supportive of my project who wrote a detailed, thoughtful, and entirely constructive report. I've known people who have gone through reviewer hell (one of my friends had her manuscript sent to the same vindictive, territory-policing reviewer by not one, but two different presses), and though I didn't specifically fear that, I did fear winding up with a reviewer who simply didn't get my project or approach. Instead, I got someone both generous and rigorous, 90% of whose criticisms strike me as 100% right.
(And. . . it's a little amazing to have someone you don't know reflect back your own vision of your project; it's all the more amazing when it's a project you've been wrestling with for so long and in so many different forms that you no longer fully trust your own perceptions.)
But let's be honest: partly, I'm able to be so sanguine because I don't need this book contract before I go up for tenure. (RU requires a book or four scholarly articles, and I have five articles and a book contract for a significant scholarly edition.) That's a necessary caveat. Only because I don't have tenure pressure do I have the luxury of being able to see how positive this R&R request is. I can stick with a top-tier press rather than having to rush the manuscript, as-is, to a publisher somewhere a notch or two down the food chain. And if this press ultimately rejects the revised manuscript, I have another equally good press to send it to. And if that second press rejects it, the next tier of publishers is still perfectly well-respected.
I have time. And I have renewed faith in this project. God bless you, anonymous reviewer. And God bless you, SPRING RESEARCH LEAVE.