The Publishing Process

Arc Humanities Press operates an identical process across its various types of scholarly publications.

  1. Initial Contact

An author may make an unsolicited submission or may be approached by an acquisitions editor because their work appears to fit the press’s profile. Almost every book will fall into a thematic series (if no series is obvious it may be that the proposal falls outside the expertise of the press). Each series is managed by an acquisitions editor appointed by the press, and series editors or an editorial board typically of three to six experts in the field, from several continents. An author will submit a Proposal Form to the acquisitions editor who will deal with the editorial board and the press; in this respect the acquisitions editor is the author’s key point of contact through the entire process. The acquisition staff are medievalists with expertise not only in the field but with experience of the world of publishing and serve as a bridge between the academic world and that of publishing.

  1. Initial Evaluation by an Editorial Board

No book is accepted by the press without the guidance of independent experts. Arc will offer an author a contract at the point when the series editors or editorial board responsible for a particular series (or an independent expert should there be no series board) recommends that a contract may now be offered. This decision is made on the basis of a short, standard Proposal Form submitted by the author, plus any supplementary materials requested by the editorial board. This material may simply be an outline prospectus, but it may be a chapter of the book or the complete manuscript. Essentially, the board will require sufficient material to make its decision.

  1. The Monthly Publishers Meeting

Once this initial evaluation has taken place and is positive, the press will undertake its own evaluation, which involves a financial and marketing analysis. Armed with this information, the acquisitions editor defends the proposal at the next month’s Publishers Meeting. A proposal may be accepted there without conditions or sometimes conditions may be imposed, such as a limit to the word- or image-count, in order to keep the book’s price under a certain threshold. If an author wants their book to appear in Open Access this is the point where the amount of the financial subvention is analyzed. Other financial subventions are also considered at this juncture.

  1. Contracting

The contract will in many cases be offered prior to the complete manuscript having been written. In such cases, the contract is strictly conditional on the final manuscript passing the peer-review process. However, the initial evaluation phase described above is intended to ensure that contracted books will pass through the peer-review process with flying colours. One of the main advantages of such advance, conditional contracts is that an author knows from the outset who the publisher will be; they will have an acquisitions editor to ask for advice on technical matters; and they are likely to be given a mentor from within the editorial board to assist on content matters. Such support is particularly helpful for early career researchers, and it also means that authors do not have to try and second-guess what they think a future publisher may want.

  1. Peer Review

Once the Final Manuscript is submitted, it will be sent for peer review. This is typically done by two scholars: one expert appointed by the editorial board, and one commissioned by the press. The peer reviewers follow a standard form and the anonymized reports are then supplied to the author. Authors can indicate in their Proposal Form any scholars who should be avoided. The peer reviewers receive a gratuity from about £100 to $250 for this work.

  1. Gatekeeping

Once the revisions required by the peer reviewing have been made (and the editorial board has signed off that in their view the book is now publishable), the definitive manuscript is sent for gatekeeping. This is a formal check of the manuscript to see that the text and any images conform sufficiently to the style guide and any other technical instructions. The purpose is to identify anything that might slow down the subsequent copyediting and prepress work.

  1. In Production (Pre-Press)

Once any modifications required by the gatekeeping checks have been completed, some internal checks take place. For instance, at this point the book gets fixed in a marketing calendar set by our global distribution partners and international agents. The book will formally be approved by the press and by Amsterdam University Press, our marketing and sales partner. It is technically now “in production.” It is now about six to nine months before the book will be published.

The first job once the book goes into production is the creation of the cover. The author is invited to submit a cover image with caption, and the author and press approve the marketing blurb to be used on the back cover and in publicity. This task takes a few weeks but has to be completed early so that advance marketing and distribution of metadata to warehouses, distributors, and agents can take place.

At this point a few preliminary jobs will also take place: (i) you will be asked to fill out an author-marketing questionnaire (AMQ) so that the press has all the information for sending out free copies (for authors and review) and can tailor its marketing plan for the book; (ii) and, in the case of essay collections and journals, the Consent-to-Publish Forms for contributors of articles will be sent out so they can be signed and returned.

  1. Copyediting and Proof Correction

Copyediting is undertaken by specialists who have graduate degrees and a broad experience of editing in medieval studies (though they may not necessarily be specialists in the minutiae of a particular subfield). They will ensure that the press’s Style Guide has been applied. The copyeditor will then generate proofs that the author can correct.

Since the author will have supplied a “definitive” manuscript, the understanding is that textual changes will be minor. The primary purpose is to answer questions raised and check the interventions made by the copyeditor. Once these proofs are passed no further textual changes are permitted. Typically the copyeditor allocates five to seven days to the author to check the copyedited proofs and respond to any queries raised. In extreme circumstances a second set of proofs may be provided, but this will need to be turned around in 48 hours or over a weekend.

  1. Typesetting and Printing

A typesetter will convert the files supplied by the copyeditor into files suitable for printing, in various formats (print and digital). The typesetter will supply a PDF to the author, so that the author can check that no gremlins have been introduced, and that the files are indeed correct for printing. The author is typically given two weeks to make this final check, but since it is simply a check for gremlins it is normally a very rapid job. In extreme circumstances a second set of proofs may be provided, but this will need to be turned around in 48 hours or over a weekend.

The approved files go to two printing companies who supply the two warehouses, in the US and the UK. Just-in-time print technology allows the book to never to go out of print and for the warehouses to be constantly replenished. Files for digital sales are made available to a large number of agents acting for libraries across the world, or to Open Access platforms.

The typesetter produces three sets of files: one for the printed version; one for e-book versions; and a watermarked version for the private use of the authors and contributors (Green Open Access).