Academic Book Week: Tips for academic book authors

Academic Book Week (#AcBookWeek) is a week-long celebration of the diversity, variety and influence of academic books throughout history run by the Booksellers Association, returning for a fourth year from 4-9 March 2019. This week, The Source will be recognising the important role of academic books, including how they engage critical audiences such as the media and policy-makers, as well as reflecting on their evolution and what the future might hold for this research format.

This blog focuses on open access book publishing. Springer Nature publishes open access books and chapters under its SpringerOpen, Palgrave Macmillan and Apress imprints. We helped to pioneer open access book publishing, first piloting open access publication for books in 2011. We have published more than 650 open access books across a wide range of areas in science, technology, medicine, the humanities and social sciences.

But what does open access publishing offer you as an author? And what do our authors have to say about it?

Why publish open access?

Open access is playing an ever-increasing role in academic book publishing, as authors aim to reach more readers, influence policymakers, work on collaborative projects and fulfil funders’ open access mandates. Other benefits include helping authors’ careers through the wider exposure their research gains.

Worldwide, readers can now download for free over 15,000 open access books and chapters from more than 300 publishers via the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB).

Open access makes books more accessible

During last year’s Academic Book Week event ‘Explore Open Access Books’, Prof. Owen Davies, (History, University of Hertfordshire) talked about how his open access book* showed higher usage and downloads with 5,000 chapter downloads and 250 online mentions in less than a year.

His motivation for choosing open access was for his “research to be easily accessible, easy for others to share, and for readers to download,” as he explained, “Open access has provided me with new opportunities to promote my work to new audiences.”

Interdisciplinary books in particular have the power to reach a wider audience. Co-editor Dr. Roseli Pellens (Permanent Research Fellow, Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité) told us that because her open access book** was easy for readers to download immediately upon publication, this was a main advantage of open access for her:

“We are moving faster as a society – we need things at the end of a click for immediate access. If it isn’t, then it won’t be used or cited as much.”

Open access adheres to high quality standards

All open access content we publish adheres to the high standards expected of all Springer Nature titles with the same rigorous peer-review process.

In addition to this, some authors feel strongly about the importance of their research being available to anyone, anywhere.

Helen Louise Ackers*** (Chair in Global Social Justice, University of Salford) commented during an interview for our white paper The OA Effect: how does open access affect the usage of scholarly books?,

“I work with issues that have to do with inequality, so for me publishing a book that wasn’t open access on the impact of international development would be quite unethical, because I know that people in Uganda would not be able to read the book. For me it was an absolutely critical component to the ethics of publishing.”

Open access books can be widely shared

Open access books are easier to promote as they can be more easily shared and accessed, plus they are more discoverable as we make them available through other platforms such as Google Books, Apple iBooks and Amazon.

But what else can help your research be read more widely? Whilst we have dedicated marketing teams to ensure the best market coverage for your book on a global basis, nothing beats authors using their own networks and social media for promotion to help increase the impact of their research.

Some of our open access book authors recommend Twitter as an effective tool to promote their work. ResearchGate, YouTube, and the importance of in-person meetings with the right stakeholders were also mentioned as tips.

You can also use other channels such as creating your own online author profile and website, writing blogs, presenting at conferences, and participating in forums and online communities to name a few.

Read more about these tips in our book marketing guide for authors  or in our author guide to open access books.

How can I publish an open access book?

If you think that this all sounds great and you want to publish an open access book, then the next question is how to get funding for the book processing charge (or BPC) to cover all the costs of commissioning, copyediting and proofreading, production, dissemination and promotion of your work, including online hosting and indexing.

Springer Nature offers a free open access support service to make it easier for our authors to discover and apply for open access book funding through:

  • providing personalised information on open access funds that may be available to you
  • directing you to the open access funding co-ordinator at your institution or funding body.

Check out the Funding and Policy Support Service webpage to learn more.

Then get in touch with one of our commissioning editors to discuss your proposal with them.

* Executing Magic in the Modern Era: Criminal Bodies and the Gallows in Popular Medicine (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), Authors: Davies, Owen, Matteoni, Francesca

** Biodiversity Conservation and Phylogenetic Systematics: Preserving our evolutionary heritage in an extinction crisis (SpringerOpen, 2016), Editors: Pellens, Roseli, Grandcolas, Philippe

*** Healthcare, Frugal Innovation, and Professional Voluntarism: A Cost-Benefit Analysis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), Authors: Ackers, L., Ackers-Johnson, J., Chatwin, J., Tyler, N.

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