Reader's Reports Arrive
Finally, after some months of nagging reminders to the press I received the two reader's reports commissioned on my proposal. I wanted these because they're generally a pretty good source of critique. The readers only had the broad proposal, the chapter summaries, and one chapter to work with, but getting feedback from people outside the UCLA orbit was something I looked forward to reading. My editor told me back in March or April that one report was extremely enthusiastic while the other was decidedly less so, and I was very interested to read that one.
When they arrived (via FedEx no less) I was surprised at how thin the envelope was. I had assumed the press would send me whatever the readers had sent them: marked up versions of the chapter and related materials along with the summary report. Instead, all I got were the reports. This made the unenthusiastic report somewhat less helpful to me because the reader's comments on the chapter are simply listed in the report in the order in which they appear. So I only saw things like "1. Interesting." or "2. Hmm. Not sure if I agree with this." without any context to see what was objected to.
In general, the unenthusiastic reader wasn't against the project, just not enthused by it. It's a very short report as well. The reader makes it clear at the beginning of the report that It might not be the best reader to report on my particular project. The biggest complaint (though it really wasn't a complaint in the sense of whining, though maybe it was whining now that I think about it) was "that in too much music scholarship the music gets left out" and that my project generally fit along those lines. I wasn't quite sure how to mentally respond though, since the chapter I sent to the press was one of the most musically technical chapters in the book. Then again, the reader seems to have been either a music theorist or a conservative musicologist, and both types get very defensive if glorious charts, graphs, and analytical descriptions aren't given the lionshare of concern.
The enthusiastic report was certainly enthusiastic (three single-spaced pages of prose instead of the short sentences of the other report). The reader seems also not to have been a musicologist because the reader wrote that they'd welcome the book for students but would suggest the students skip over the sections of technical discussion. The reader identifies itself to be a musician and a literary/rhetorical scholar so I'm really curious to know the reader's identity. Interestingly, the reader also noted that Damage Incorporated is essentially a reworked version of my dissertation and that I had changed the title. While it's certainly possible the reader Googled my name and "Metallica" and came across the dissertation title, it still struck me as a little Twilight Zone-ish. Most of the report's comments focus on the tone of the writing, remarking that it gets a bit longwinded at times, which is true of all my writing (including this blog). Still, the report's enthusiasm is a nice pick-me-up.
Posted: Monday - September 13, 2004 at 10:29 AM