Proposals for new Legenda books
1. What we do and do not publish
Legenda welcomes proposals from any source, but its remit is to publish advanced research in the modern Humanities and related disciplines, and in practice our authors are established or independent scholars with an academic background.
About a third of our authors are new to the profession, in their first academic posts: and as this may suggest, we welcome proposals based on doctoral theses. Please note, however, that we do not consider proposals to publish theses submitted for degrees below that of Ph.D. (or D.Phil.), and that we can only consider a proposal to publish a doctoral thesis once it has been passed by the examining university. It should also be borne in mind that a Ph.D. thesis may require considerable rewriting in order to be presented as a book to its best advantage, and that it may be best to regard even a finished thesis as the raw materials for a book rather than the book itself.
While the core of our list is the study of European literature, language and culture, we have series devoted to cinema and to visual culture, and have also published in classics, music, history, fine arts, and philosophy, in cases where there was a strong connection to our main remit. Note that ‘European’ includes English literature, and that we also publish on (for instance) the Francophone literature of Africa and the Caribbean, and on the Spanish and Lusophone literature of South America. Interdisciplinary and comparative studies are strongly encouraged.
We do not ordinarily publish translations or single lectures.
Except in the case of Research Monographs in French Studies series, which has its own guidance, there are no absolute rules about the length of a Legenda book. However, in most Legenda series we are unlikely to accept a monograph shorter than 60,000 words. Most titles are around 80,000 words in length, including all notes and bibliography, but we do not regard this as a target length to fit: every project has its own shape. With that said, our editors would likely require some persuasion that a monograph could justify a length significantly greater than 100,000 words. In our experience, collective works, where authors contribute one chapter each, tend to be better at rather larger extents than monographs.
Legenda books are carefully edited, after detailed scrutiny, and are then produced to the highest standards. We do not require our authors to submit camera-ready copy, typesetting their own unedited work, as some presses do: but once a book has been accepted we do ask our authors to commit themselves to presenting manuscripts with a high level of consistency with MHRA style, and with accurate and complete bibliographic citation. Once production begins, the author will need to work through two or sometimes three levels of proofing, and also to prepare a judicious index (though only once the book reaches proof: we do not ask authors to index their books in advance, as some presses prefer). Like all presses, then, we need authors who are happy to collaborate with us in a joint effort to produce the best possible book.
2. How to approach us
Proposals may be made either to the main editorial office of Legenda or to the chair of the book series in question.
In general, we prefer not to receive manuscripts or sample chapters in the first instance: in the early stages, these are not the most useful materials for us to consider. Instead, please submit just a formal proposal, as follows. The most convenient format for us is a Microsoft Word or PDF document sent by email to: Graham Nelson, the Managing Editor, at email@example.com.
To some extent the shape of a proposal must depend on the shape of the book it proposes, but the following general guidance may be helpful.
A good proposal amounts to five or six pages of text. It will give a brief description of the book (about a page of text), clearly outlining how the proposed book relates to existing work in the field, and in what respects it breaks new ground. It should also say why colleagues working in other fields might be interested in the subject matter. If appropriate, it will go on to give a chapter summary, with each chapter summarised by a single paragraph.
Please indicate the expected time scale of the project: to what extent the book has already been written, and when you would expect to have a complete text ready. Please be realistic about this. We are entirely happy to discuss books which still have a way to go, but we have found that it’s premature to be talking about a book unless it can in principle be ready to go into production some time in the next four years.
If your book is derived from a Ph.D. thesis, please indicate the university granting the doctorate and the year of examination, and let us know the names of the supervisor (or adviser) and the examiners. Though theirs would not be the only opinions sought, we may to seek their advice.
If your book is a collection of papers, please indicate clearly who the contributors will be and follow the guidelines above when presenting your proposal. It is helpful to us to submit the proposal only when this is fairly well established, rather than at a more tentative stage, although it’s quite common for subsequent discussions to change the lineup – for example, to add contributors in areas where coverage is thinner. If the book is a Festschrift, or intended to mark some anniversary or event, please indicate this. We expect Festschriften and commemorative books to be coherent volumes in their own right, rather than diffuse collections of essays by diverse hands.
Lastly, it would be a courtesy to us to know if you are also submitting the book to other presses for consideration at the same time.
3. What happens then
Proposals are considered in an open competition, and are subject to peer review. This is single-blind, in that our readers of proposals and draft MSS are anonymous as far as the author is concerned, but not double-blind. It is not really practical to conceal the authorship of a whole scholarly monograph from its readers.
When your proposal is submitted, we will acknowledge its safe receipt and refer it to the Editorial Committee managing the most appropriate Legenda series to receive it: for example, a book on Goethe would be considered by the Editorial Committee for our Germanic Literatures series, so that the proposal would be looked at by a range of Germanists, rather than by the full Legenda team of editors – which is some 70 people in size. On occasion, the potential series for a book is ambiguous, and in that case a proposal might be seen by more than one committee. In addition, these committees sometimes consult outside experts.
Our editorial committees mostly do not have regular meetings in person, and instead work continuously by email. Even so, a delay of a few weeks is inevitable before we can respond to a proposal. We ask your patience: our editors are themselves working academics, and are busier at some times of year than others.
If we decline your proposal, we will aim to give our reasons; if we wish to encourage your proposal, usually by asking to see a completed draft, we may offer some guidance on how it might progress. In either case, as noted above, comments from the Editorial Committee and from specialist readers will be quoted anonymously.
A legal contract for a book is usually not offered until the project has advanced to a point where we are both happy with how we will proceed through to publication. This happens at different times for different projects, but we do not encourage proposals unless we are looking to accept in the end, subject to peer review. We understand that it may be important to some early-career authors applying for academic jobs to reach clarity on all of this, and in general we try to be sensitive to that.
- Professor Jonathan Long, Chairman of the Editorial Board
- Dr Graham Nelson, Managing Editor