From the Editor’s Desk | How We Choose What to Publish

The first in a series of short posts designed to give a glimpse into the inner workings of academic publishing at Anthem.

Anthem Press is made up of distinct but overlapping divisions (have a look at the structure of our lists), but our bread and butter – and the real backbone and soul of the company – is high-quality peer-reviewed scholarly book publishing. As such, separating the wheat from the chaff is the most crucial first step in deciding what to publish (to see what’s made the cut recently, have a look at our forthcoming titles).

We specialise in a wide range of subject areas, and our key strengths lie in the social sciences and humanities with an international scope. (We publish monographs and edited volumes in both established and emerging fields, and develop series across a wide spectrum of topics.) We build up subject expertise internally, but we also bring in expert external advisors who are invaluable to our decision-making process.

Our series editors – academics themselves who work with us across a number of titles to identify and develop great book projects – form a key, long-term advisory resource that we draw upon to select new, significant and worthwhile scholarship to publish. We also request one-off advice from other external academic consultants, and we put every scholarly book we publish through the rigours of a serious and substantive peer-review process.

Before a proposal gets to that trial by fire, it undergoes an initial assessment on a range of factors, including its fit (for Anthem and our series) and its commercial viability. After our initial academic consultants weigh in and the publishing committee have decided that a proposal looks good, we like to strike while the iron is hot.

With many years of experience in the industry, we have confidence in our ability to choose good projects and see them through, so we’ll issue a ‘subject to peer review’ contract to the author or editor straight away. This practice works well for us since it motivates early commitment – both from us and our authors – and helps avoid the prospect of a great book project languishing in the pre-production marshes. Thanks to the checks we put in at the earliest stages, we rarely have to give a contract back.

The process of deciding what to publish is probably one of the single most exciting parts of academic publishing, but it’s also a big responsibility, and we take it seriously. It means putting time and effort into getting it right – it means finding the most original, rigorous, fascinating scholarship and giving it a voice.