Virginia City &


I likely embarrassed myself with University of Nevada Press a month or so ago when I asked how to give them peer review names, but it was a newby question that I was hoping for guidance on. Stupid me! There’s an internet search – duh! While at Portland’s SAA book exhibit I mentioned my project at the Rowman & Littlefield booth and she encouraged me to send my proposal, gave me a card and a name.

So, excited, last week I look at their proposal requirements, as presses are all different, and this is the second time (well, recently) that I saw those dreaded words again – need four to seven names of potential peer reviewers. Nuts. Do I give up or do I figure this out?

Seeing it as the challenge it was, and reading an online article, I decided to go to the names of sources used in the book. One I found at Facebook, and he allowed me to submit him. I had to ask him for his email. One is someone in the Bonanza fan world who has also done some writing but not someone I personally know. Getting the fan perspective, I felt, would be helpful.

I could not use Joe Curtis, as much as he wanted to be used, as he’s been working with me on this and has a vested interest in seeing it published.

You see, peer reviewers are those who are familiar with your topic and will tell the publisher if this adds anything new to the readers for their interest. They also might be able to verify if the book is accurate, and correctly reflects the topic it purports.

I went to several of the online Nevada websites and queried for a peer reviewer that way. I emailed University of Nevada Press and the University of Nevada in Reno. But my best source turned out to be the Nevada Historical Society. They gave me three names and suggested I ask their permission. I did so, and gave them an out saying they only had to respond if the answer was no, telling them I was new at this.

Along the way I received advice, too, and I want to share some of that for others who might find the process daunting. “There are two types of manuscript review that occur. The first is where an author approaches a colleague and/or friend and asks for a private review of a manuscript. Any reviewer who engages in this step usually cannot be an anonymous peer reviewer because they are already involved with the manuscript. The second is where a press approaches potential reviewers for an anonymous peer review.”

What is meant by anonymous, I think, is that these reviews, whether recommending the book for publication or not, are never shared with the author.

“What I do when I submit a manuscript is to include the names of possible reviewers. For my most recent manuscript, I heard that a dozen reviewers declined the task. In this case, most apparently did not feel they were able to review the topic, which is fine. Authors and presses should want and should find the readers who are most able to take on the task – not just willing.”

This is the link I used to learn more about the process:

Basically, the publisher is asking you to do some up-front work for them. I’m not going to know who they go to, or if they use any of those names at all.

“I would also add Michael Makley to your list. He has good experience with writing about early Nevada topics.”

Michael Makley wrote a book that I immediately bought. It added the final piece that my book needed, more information on Lake Tahoe and its connections to Virginia City. I did not have to contact Makley directly, as he was published by the University press I was proposing to. The Press that I probably have already blown it with by acting like such a newby.

You see, the biggest problem is not just finding names, which can be in the resources you used. But also in finding their contact information.

Most names I submitted are names I contacted that did not respond. I don’t think any have that vested interest — however, if we talk vested interest, isn’t someone whose materials are quoted inside the book considered vested? Perhaps they are used because we don’t want to use TOO much of their material.

I have faith that any peer reviewer will recommend “A Cartwright Ride Through Virginia City History” for publication. But the publisher must, after receiving the proposal, request to see the entire book before it can be submitted for peer review.

I did get a nice follow-up response from R&L’s editor saying he was looking forward to reading the material and I should hear back in a couple weeks. The Nevada press? Well, the book might not be scholarly enough for them, anyway. I created it to be readable and enjoyable, as well as very accurately historical.



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