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The question says it all. To my regret, my monograph, published by a reputable academic publisher, doesn't have them. My only excuse is that I was just having a baby and my only concern was to submit the body on time, since I already had a deadline extension once. I was so overwhelmed juggling between writing and taking care of my newborn that I skipped everything flagged as optional (including the dedication page). I was also worried that my exhausted baby-brain forgot persons I should acknowledge and offend them, so I quickly decided to skip the acknowledgment part. Now that I have more time for myself, I feel ever so regretful for not writing a preface that I believe would have added an important personal touch to the topic of the book. And I feel that the absence of acknowledgment makes the book look less professional. I did later thank people who helped personally, though.

Is there any way to salvage this, and personally do you think that a monograph without a preface and acknowledgment is a terrible one? Thanks for your opinion.

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    I can't recall ever giving particular attention to either the presence or absence of a preface, or an acknowledgement. Sure, if there is a preface, I'll read it but in the scheme of things, good organization, a table of contents, and an index (in that order) are of far more significance. Mar 23 at 6:58

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What's done is done. For a print version there probably isn't much to be done unless you do a 2nd edition. The preface isn't critical. It is a service to a reader who may not want to commit to the whole reading, but not essential. Acknowledgements are more important and sometimes essential.

If you published with a reputable publisher and they raised no issue then it probably isn't serious. You can, of course, if you have a visible web presence, put ack material there, though I would do it without apology for the printed version.

An online publication is easier to update, of course, and the publisher might be able to help.

Happy baby raising.

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  • Thank you for your suggestions. To give some context, I wrote about an insurgence, and my father was minimally impacted by it. Someone just pointed out that it would have added a lot of interest had I recounted that personal story in the preface, not to mention it would have made my father's story got written down. I haven't realised it until now. Anyway no use of crying over spilled milk, I know :-). (It's a print version).
    – Juli
    Mar 21 at 19:06
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    +1 do it in a 2nd edition (if any). I also agree that on your academic web page you can add additional material (+comments, references, further work, errata) related to the book. Indeed, you can do this for all your publications. But if you do not become an academic, where can you put this? Maybe your publisher has web pages for its books that could include additional comments?
    – GEdgar
    Mar 22 at 14:35
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Overall, a good way to address such questions is to ask yourself: "do I think a monograph without a preface and acknowledgement is a terrible one?" If not, there is probably no reason to suppose that other people will think this. If so, well, it's only fair that if you think other people's books are terrible for lacking a preface, then other people get to think the same about your book.

By the way, I am totally just speculating here, but I do wonder if the same exaggerated fear of "will people think ill of me if I do X", in this case X being "ask for another extension", could have been what got you into this situation in the first place. I imagine asking for a second extension is not that big a deal to a publishing company. Publishers must very much be used to people asking for extensions of extensions on their books. Of course, the particular situation is already spilled milk and there is no use tormenting yourself about it, but if this was the underlying dynamic of why you were reluctant to ask for a further extension, then for sure the same dynamic will surface again sooner or later in some form unless you consciously put a stop to it.

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  • Initially I did not think a monograph without a preface and acknowledgement is a terrible one, but since a friend pointed out about it, I started googling and read how it's considered a big deal and appatently uncommon.
    – Juli
    Mar 22 at 12:41
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    I hit the "send" button too soon. I'd like to add that you're spot on with your speculation. At times I overthink that I'd dissapoint people if I do X and end up not with the best decision. Perhaps I'm overthinking again now. Since it's too late for this book (my first), I can only try to do differently with my future projects.
    – Juli
    Mar 22 at 12:46
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    @Juli I imagine it may be uncommon because most writers like to take the opportunity to make some personal remarks, but probably not because readers demand it and are sorely disappointed otherwise. I generally like reading a preface, to the extent that I will read it even in a dictionary, but even I would not blink it eye if a book lacked one. It's the author's prerogative to organize their book as they wish. Mar 22 at 13:10
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    @Juli As a rule of thumb, I find that people don't generally invest a lot of energy into being angry/disappointed with people who did not cause harm to them personally. So, a co-author might be angry at you if they feel like you botched their book in some way, but a random staff member at a publishing house probably does not care much whether you ask for another extension (and having a baby sounds like a bullet-proof justification for an extension). I agree that shifting this mindset in the direction of worrying less about what people will think in the future is a good lesson to draw here. Mar 22 at 13:10
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You're likely too late unfortunately. Once a book is published, it's really expensive to update it, especially if you're adding full pages. There are ways a printer could do it, but it's ugly & expensive.

You could realistically write a "second edition" that incorporates the preface & acknowledgement, but since your book is a monograph, it's not likely to sell many copies, and a second edition would sell even less, to the point where it might not be profitable for the publisher.

You might be able to persuade the publisher to update the online files, though, and if you write another monograph, you will probably be able to add some text referencing the things you wish you'd added to this one.

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I think you are being too hard on yourself.

You went to the trouble of writing the people who you might have put in an acknowledgements section. If you told them why (i.e. you had just had a baby) then ... well, if they don't understand, they are jerks.

As to making the book better by including something else .... Well, you can join a really big club of authors (including me) who wish they had done something different in something they published. It feels bad, but it shouldn't feel that bad. You got a monograph published by a reputable place. That means it's worthwhile.

So, congratulations on the monograph AND the baby!

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    Your perspective does help me here. When the book came out last fall, I informed the people involved via email with a thank you. They knew I had just a baby, so I hope they understand (I didn't elaborate about the missing acknowledgement part). Thank you for your take and for congratulating me :-).
    – Juli
    Mar 22 at 12:36

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