CYGNA: The wonderful world of book publishing

Reports on our 35th CYGNA meeting with three publishers discussing textbooks, research books and practice books

Since founding CYGNA in 2014 we have had 30 physical meetings. When COVID-19 hit we moved the meetings online, holding meetings in May and June on Coping with a Pandemic and MBTI & Stress. For the 2020-2021 academic year, we decided to offer a full year of monthly online meetings. The September meeting was on Female leadership in Higher Education, while in October, we decided to tackle the "hot potato" of job losses in higher education in How do I keep my job (in academia) in uncertain times?

In November, we decided it was time for a non-COVID-19 topic and focused on book publishing. Again, there was great interest in the session, no less than 62 members registered and 46 of them were able to attend. Unfortunately, by the time we got down to taking the group picture above, some had left for other meetings or teaching.

As in previous months, nearly half of the participants were from outside the UK, including from Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, and Taiwan. A special welcome to Almudena Cañibano, Amal Abdellatif, Charikleia Tzanakou, Ethel Villafranca, Katrin Heucher, Lisiane Closs, Marian van Bakel, Sijia Zhao, and Sylvia Gottschalk, who all attended for the first time.

Marian Mahat, Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, also attending for the first time, had kindly agreed to coordinate and chair the session this month. She did an excellent job in organizing the speakers and managing the session. The CYGNA team, Argyro Avgoustaki, Shasha Zhao, Linn Zhang, and myself provided backup and technical support.

We had three great presentations, all linked below. The image above shows us listening to the last presentation. What I loved was how author-focused they all were. No sales talk, just three very illuminative insights into the publishing world from three unique publishing firms who share a family-based culture.

Francine O'Sullivan: Edward Elgar

Francine O'Sullivan - whom I have known since Edward Elgar published my PhD thesis Managing the Multinationals in 1999 - gave us a comprehensive overview of publishing research monographs and handbooks. Unfortunately, after promising I would do the recording, I promptly forgot to click the record button. Sorry Francine!!! So there is no video of Francine's presentation. However, you can download the slides here. Their website also has a very useful Author Hub, which will provide an answer to many of your questions.

Although Edward Elgar is well-known for handbooks and monographs, they also publish interesting academic skills books such as How to get published in the best Management journals in which I have also published a chapter on Everything you always wanted to know about impact. And in case you were wondering, the name of the publisher comes from its founder, who founded the business in 1986. It is still an independent family business.

Kimberley Chadwick: Emerald Publishing

Our session chair, Marian Mahat, has been working with Kim Chadwick on a highly relevant book series Surviving and thriving in Academia. In her presentation Kim focused on publishing non-academic books as an academic, outlining why you might want to engage in this, how to write such a book, and what it takes as an author to do this.

What I like about Emerald is its proud Northern roots and its family focus. They were founded as MCB (Management Centre Bradford) publishers in 1967 and I have met three generations of the family on their visits to Melbourne. In addition to their big stable of journals - many of which are in Business & Management - they also offer substantial author resources.

Kiren Shoman: SAGE Publishing

I have known Kiren nearly as long as Francine as she was a junior editor on the second edition of my International HRM textbook, for which we are currently preparing the 6th edition. As you can see she is now a Vice-President! She gave us a Textbook Publishing 101, which for most CYGNA members was a real eye-opener. We are all so focused on research books, that most of us know little about what is involved in writing a textbook.

In addition to publishing textbooks, research books and journals, SAGE also offers lots of support to academics in the area of research methods, as well as working with big data, and is a big advocate of Impact in the Social Sciences. You might not know this, but its founder was a 24-year old woman Sara Miller McCune, who founded SAGE Publishing with the belief that social science research can and must play an important role in shaping society. Very appropriate for a women's network!

Debrief and future meetings

Finally, we had a debrief session with the organizing team and talked about future meetings and the possibility of publishing a book with the CYGNA network. By the time we logged off, we had been online for well over three hours. But time had flown. Looking forward to the next virtual CYGNA meeting!

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