WVU author spotlight: Lisa DeFrank-Cole

At West Virginia University Press we publish books in our areas of specialization by authors around the world, including WVU faculty like Rosemary Hathaway and Travis Stimeling, both of whom have written for our blog. Other members of the WVU community, of course, work with different publishers. With this post we inaugurate a new feature spotlighting authors at the university who publish with other houses—part of our effort to serve as a forum for all things book- and publishing-related at West Virginia University.

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Lisa DeFrank-Cole, professor and director of WVU Leadership Studies, shares the story of securing a contract for her textbook on women and leadership.

After a recent conversation with Derek Krissoff, director of WVU Press, he suggested I compose a short blog post about my experience obtaining a contract with SAGE Publications. He thought other faculty might find value in in my story. So here it goes . . .

A colleague from California, Sherylle Tan, and I met and got to know one another through the International Leadership Association (ILA), a professional organization for those who teach and do research about leadership. We worked together on several projects over a period of about six years, including writing articles, compiling an edited collection, and doing conference planning. We developed a trusted and valued relationship. We also both served as chair of the Women and Leadership Affinity Group of the ILA in consecutive years. After serving as co-editors of a series of case studies on women and leadership for SAGE, we were asked if we would speak with another senior publisher, who was starting a new project on creating a library of video content for college classes.

In the conversation with the video publisher in April, we discussed a wide array of topics on leadership that related to college students. As a closing question, he asked if either of us had any other suggestions. Without thinking, I said that I wished there was a textbook about women and leadership, much like the iconic text published by SAGE that many of us use in our introductory courses. He was meeting with the editor of that very book the next day, as luck would have it . . . Would we like for him to mention this idea to her? <gulp> He asked if we would like to write this textbook. <double gulp!> “Uh, yeah, I think so. We would definitely like to talk about a project like that,” I said. I could hardly believe I was having this conversation, and excitement was building.

As good as his word, he mentioned the idea to the editor of the best-selling textbook on leadership at SAGE. He did an email introduction and we set up a phone call with the editor. She invited us to submit a proposal and we did in early June. It was sent out to thirteen reviewers, and after a round of edits we had a contract in hand by August. I still get energized thinking about how this happened and how fortunate we are to get to write it. We’re working on the manuscript now, with publication tentatively scheduled for summer 2020.

At the annual ILA conference in October, we were able to meet our SAGE editor in person. When we inquired about the genesis of our first call and subsequent contract, she said that she had never had a situation like this one before. She admitted that she was prepared to tell her colleague about another press that might be interested in whatever project he might have been proposing on our behalf. But, because she’d had some inquiries about a book on women and leadership in the recent past, she was very interested in this project. We were in the right place at the right time.

The moral of the story as I see it is this: doing good work, being a good colleague, and developing networks still play a valuable role in how projects get selected—together with a bit of luck and good timing!

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