Having survived two job market attempts now, it is clear to me that the answer is "PUBLICATIONS!!!!! PUBLICAAAAAAAAAATIONS!!!!!! Publications You Motherfucker! We Rejected Candidates Who Had Published Entire BOOKS As Not Worthy To Even Wipe Our Feet and We Should Charge YOU For Forcing Us to Look At Your Sniveling Job Materials You SCUM, UNPUBLISHED SCUM I SAY!!!!!!!"
And those were just the ones kind enough to send the Please Fuck Off letters. Most schools seem to think that acknowledging failed job applicants will make them ritually unclean, as if our unworthiness will rub off on their schools and make them drop a level in the US News and World Report Rankings.
So, Ok ---- after going off and crying in a corner for a while I went back to the twin tasks of working on my dissertation and getting stuff out to publishers. (Don't even get me started on how my department assumes we will finish the whole program, including the dissertation, and graduate in four years, teaching the whole time, including getting trained in comp and then moving back to Eng after a year, with no summer support and almost no help or advice on publishing or even time to wedge in some work on publishing --- but anyway.) In fact, you may remember that after Mostly Disastrous Job Market Year #1 I got right down to work on a chapter and three articles (one of which got rejected and I scrapped), and I sent out finished manuscripts into the publication pipeline last summer. (Then I went out on Truly Disastrous Job Market Year #2. But we won't talk about that now.)
The problem now is that those pipelines appear to be clogged.
I mused about this a little last year when I compared the constant process of having ideas and writing them up and sending them out and getting them back to either juggling or pinball. I understood, at least I thought so at the time, that the whole publishing process was another of these aspects of being a professor where you need to be incredibly self-directed and able to think ahead and organize long periods of time, being able to shoot something out there and then turn back to do something else, keeping busy, while your shiny little idea pinged and panged back and forth and set off little lights and buzzers until eventually it came back and you thwacked it back off again.
I had no clue that the ball might hurtle off into the ether and be never seen or heard from again.
Now what? It's been eight freaking months, people! I would like to have something worthwhile on my CV when I go (sigh) back on the market yet again in the fall. So if I'm getting rejected, I would like it to happen now so I can go take my pinball and play it in another game and get it rolling along its new tracks before market season again. (Has my metaphor lost anyone yet?)
Or alternately, if it's any good, I would like to hustle along some revisions and shoot it back out there, because it has been pointed out to me that sending an article out to a top journal, such as, I don't know, PMLA, takes absolutely no skill whatsoever and thus doesn't really count for much on a CV. I have been further informed that there's no point to listing a revise-and-resubmit on one's CV either; no one will care or count it as a publication unless you can say "accepted" and "forthcoming." Someone else told me that "grad students these days" will list articles as "submitted" to various journals when they haven't actually submitted anything yet but they have been thinking about it, and so search committees treat CVs with submitted publications exactly the same way as blank ones. Turns out, some of my peeps here did exactly that, to which I said, thanks guys. Way to help me out.
If you want any advice (and would actually take it from an unpublished scum like me: look at the turnaround time of the journals you want to submit to. Harass your profs and people in your field, if need be. I think that journals that publish quarterly or more often meet more frequently and have faster turnaround times than journals that only publish a couple times a year, or annually. Or maybe I just picked super duper slow venues.
With one journal, I've been checking in since MLA (someone told me that December "doesn't count" in journal turnaround time because everyone knows the semester is ending and full of grades and holiday preparations and then it's MLA. I totally accept that. I waited until I was back before trying to nag people.) This has become a routine for me now at the top of each month:
- send rent check
- send polite nagging email to journal
- rent check clears
- return email explains that the editorial board has not yet met to evaluate the reviews of my article
Crap! Crapitty crap crap! I wouldn't be so upset about all this if I didn't feel the pressures to get something real on my CV in time for the next job season! I would just go back to writing more things and pinging them out. Do people on the tenure track feel the same way, what with tenure standards and internal reviews and whatnot? Gah!
The other journal is stuck too --- after a few reminder emails I got a response that they would be happy to work with me and that they were sending back the readers' reports after X happened. I think that may be an unofficial revise and resubmit, and the editor was very very nice and encouraging. So I have all these hopes and excitements about this one. But. The reader reports have never arrived. The polite, questioning emails I have sent about them have never been replied to. X deadline is months and months away and I could see that, if this editor is organizing the X as well, the editor is not doing anything journal related in that harried and crazy time. So now what do I do about this one? Or that one? Gahhh!
Some people have told me that this turnaround time is completely unacceptable and I should pull both articles and start again. But I have no assurances that starting again somewhere else would be any faster. And I would like these articles to go in these journals; that's why I submitted to them first. And I haven't been rejected by either. And that last, hopeful-sounding email from the one journal, like the faint shadowings of land to some shipwrecked survivors, really did seem like they wanted my article if I only fixed whatever mysterious things the reviewers suggested, but since I never did see the reviewer reports, it feels like the land was really a mirage, never to be seen again.
I have gotten some conference proposal stuff out for Yet Another Idea, and I am working away at finishing the dissertation. But, you know, the timing on these won't be quite right for the fall job market either. Dangit! I was hoping my mantra would be The Third Time's The Charm, not Four More Years.