Book Editing, Part Two

I’m going to respond to some of the comments on my book manuscript from Reviewer #2. This is partially because I need to get all the salt out of my system before I send a formal response to the press, but I also want to justify to myself why my perspective and the decisions I made are valid. Okay, here goes!

While it is important to clearly position oneself, the highly personal and subjective writing style (especially in the Introduction) runs the risk of appearing journalistic or social-networkish.

First of all, that’s a mean thing to say.

Second, did this person only read the introduction? I do indeed have a ten-page statement of positionality in the introduction, but the rest of the manuscript doesn’t employ an overtly personal perspective at all.

Third, god forbid that an academic book is approachable and accessible to a wider audience, right?

The reason I included a relatively informal statement of positionality in my introduction is because I personally dislike reading the literature reviews in the introductions to academic books, which tend to be theoretical quagmires that have very little to do with the content of the book itself. Because these literature reviews tend to discuss material in a manner that only makes sense to someone who has already read it, I don’t find them particularly useful, either. The convention that an academic book needs to have an unreadable introduction needs to be challenged, and I would recommend that this reviewer examine their own prejudices and be a bit more open to diversity in academic writing.

Rather than to be told that something is “unpleasant and, quite frankly, boring,” it would be more important to learn why there has been a shift from suffering to pleasure in female writing and reading, to which research field the project wishes to contribute (literary studies, Japan studies, fanculture studies, manga studies, gender studies?), and within which methodological framework assertions and judgments are being made.

I… I can’t even. Does this person want me to reinvent third wave feminism? Do I really need to spend more time explaining why my feminist approach in 2019 is different from academic feminist approaches in 1995? Really?

Okay, fine. I can do that. I can add another three or four pages to the introduction for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t read any feminist scholarship on popular culture in the last twenty years. I haven’t seen anyone attempt to justify a third/fourth-wave feminist approach in more than a decade, but sometimes I forget that the academic job market crash of 2008 resulted in a major generation gap.

I mean, I already have a good fifteen pages of methodological framework in the introduction, which is then built on in the introduction and conclusion of each subsequent chapter, but I guess I could signpost this in a more easily recognizable way. Instead of calling the relevant methodology section in the introduction “The (Super)powers of Feminist Textual Analysis,” I guess I could call it, um…

Actually, you know what? That’s a good subheading, and I’m keeping it.

That’s enough for today, but stay tuned for more adventures in the academic salt mines.