Pacific University Press – Acquisitions Process

Pacific University Press Acquisitions Process

While building on established publishing practices, the process used by the Pacific University Press for acquiring submissions differs both in the responsibility for certain functions and in the factors considered when evaluating the suitability of a title for the press’ list.

Where a traditional press places primary responsibility for identifying, evaluating, and fostering potential new submissions on dedicated acquisitions editors, the Pacific University Press has more distributed responsibility that is intended to draw on the strengths of the Pacific University (and scholarly) community. And because the press is not expected to generate revenue (nor completely cover its editorial costs), the sales potential (or course adoption possibilities) of new titles are not relevant considerations.

However, because the press has limited resources, consideration of the sales potential of new titles is replaced by consideration of the potential impact (as described below) of the new titles. These are the primary distinguishing characteristics of Pacific University Press’ acquisitions process.

Acquisitions Review of Book Proposals

The general process for proposal review is summarized below. It is important to note that the process varies slightly for the 1849 Editions imprint.

Initial Submission

  1. Authors submit completed proposals (which will include sample chapters in the case of 1849 Editions, or writing samples for the other imprints) to the Associate Press Director.
  2. The Associate Press Director reviews the proposal for completeness; if information is missing, it will be returned to the author. When the proposal is complete, the Associate Press Director and the Press Director will review the proposal and make an initial determination as to whether it falls within the scope of the Press. At their discretion, they may ask the author to revise the proposal to make it more complete or to strengthen it prior to the next stage of review.

Acquisitions Team Review

For proposals that are in scope, the proposal materials will be directed to the appropriate Acquisitions Team:

  • Acquisition Teams are two-member teams composed of one academic faculty member (usually from Pacific University) and one library faculty member. Acquisition Teams are composed on an ad hoc basis, based on submissions to the press, from a pool of faculty volunteers with relevant interest and experience. There is at least one Acquisition Team per imprint, but multiple teams per imprint may be active at any one time depending on the need for specific expertise in the review of current submissions.
  • The Acquisition Teams collaborate with the Associate Press Director to function as an acquisitions editor for their assigned imprint. The Acquisitions Team provides the initial substantive review of each submitted proposal, and prepares a recommendation for the Editorial Board as to whether that submission should be rejected or should receive further consideration. The Associate Press Director works closely with each Acquisitions Team, and presents their recommendations to the Board. Acquisition Team recommendations are not final until approved by the Editorial Board.

The Acquisitions Team will review the proposal for quality and potential impact and prepare a recommendation for the Editorial Board.

Editorial Board Review

The Editorial Board will review the proposal (or results of the external manuscript review, in the case of 1849 Editions) for the purposes of deciding whether to offer a contract to the author. For the press’ purposes, the acquisitions process is considered complete when a contract has been executed with the author (whether contingent or final). The contracted manuscript then moves into the editorial process.

Factors in Proposal Reviews

When the Press Director, Associate Press Director, Acquisition Teams, and Editorial Board are determining whether to acquire a proposal/manuscript for the Pacific University Press, the following factors are considered (the application of these factors differs slightly across the three imprints).

  1. Fit | Does the proposed work fall within the scope of one of the press’ imprints? Does it complement other works previously published by the press?
  2. Originality | Does the work introduce new ideas, or consider existing ideas/facts in a new way? Is there an original contribution to art or scholarship? In order to be a wise steward of its resources, the press emphasizes opportunities to share new knowledge and artistic expression.
  3. Impact | To a certain extent, sales have traditionally been a proxy for impact. However, the press’ focus is not on whether the work will have a wide impact as represented by high sales, but on whether the work could have a significant impact for its intended audience (or has the potential to have a significant impact for unintended audiences). In this context, ‘impact’ could be improvements in practice, understanding, or knowledge, or could be heightened public visibility for a community, practice, or issue that is currently marginalized. The work need not have the potential for use by a large community or number of readers; the potential qualitative impact is of greater importance than the quantitative impact.
  4. Technical requirements | If the proposed work is in a ‘non-traditional’ format (e.g. a non-textbook open education resource, or a media-heavy digital book), does the press have the ability to execute the project to a level that will realize the author’s vision?
  5. Length | Ideal length will vary based on the imprint (e.g. short story or poetry collections should be considered based on the number of stories/poems, not word/page count--whereas the ideal length for a scholarly monograph might be around 80,000-110,000 words), but consideration should be given as to whether the work is long enough to achieve its stated purpose, or if it is overly long to the extent that it could affect usability/readership.
  6. Organization | For scholarly or practitioner works, the proposed organization of the work presented in the proposal should be logical and should clearly support the author’s stated purpose for the work (in addressing a specific subject or argument). For literary works (short story collections, novellas, and poetry collections), coherence in the plot and/or theme(s) of the narrative or collection should be considered.
  7. Balance | This factor is most relevant for scholarly or practitioner works. Consideration should be given to whether the author has addressed (or plans to address) all relevant aspects of a topic or argument, and has weighted different perspectives or dimensions appropriately. Works that are overtly biased in their presentation, or explicitly exclude relevant information or perspectives, are discouraged.
  8. Strength of proposal | The overall quality of the proposal, as reflected in the quality of the writing in the proposal and accompanying materials (sample chapters or writing samples), is a strong indication of the author’s ability to deliver a complete work of high quality. Logical organization of thought, consistent elucidation of ideas/arguments, and excellent writing mechanics are desirable. For literary works, the sample chapters/poems should be weighted most heavily in considerations of quality.