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Since my Ph.D., I have occasionally received emails from publishers (that I've never heard of before) about writing a book. They all seem like mass emails that have my name and some title of a paper I wrote or the name of a course I've taught pasted in. The majority seem fishy and I just ignore them, but the most recent one may be a legitimate invitation. I'm not interested in writing the book they're asking for at this time, but I have to question whether I should continue to ignore all of these types of emails outright.

Are there smaller/up-and-coming academic publishers out there that are actively recruiting authors in order to expand their catalog? If so, should I engage with them at least for networking purposes?

I am specifically asking about books, and in particular textbooks, not journals. In searching through questions with publisher-related tags, I only saw similar questions about journals.

  • 32
    It is academic spam, just ignore. – Per Alexandersson Jul 29 '15 at 20:24
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    It is almost always academic spam, but i also have received inquiries from very well known publishers. – CrepusculeWithNellie Jul 30 '15 at 1:23
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Get used to this: you will receive one or more spam emails for every single piece of work that you will publish, whether thesis, journal paper or conference paper.

The senders are predatory publishers: press the del key as fast as you can!

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This kind of e-mail from predatory publisher is very common. Just ignore them. If you have a doubt about whether a publisher is predatory or not, you can search on Google the name of the publisher. But if you never heard about a publisher, it is likely not a good publisher and it is probably not good to publish your work with them, since they probably sent that e-mail to thousands of researchers.

  • Google them and check them here: scholarlyoa.com/publishers – Ander Biguri Jul 30 '15 at 16:33
  • @virmaior No. Googling them is a lost time. Unless you have heard their name before, they are uninteresting to you. – yo' Aug 3 '15 at 8:10
  • @yo' strongly disagree. At least in my discipline, there are quite a few legitimate publishing houses. I would never have heard of anything in the Czech republic, should I dismiss them out of hand? – virmaior Aug 3 '15 at 8:38
  • @virmaior Very likely yes. If you've never heard of them, then most likely either you haven't gained enough experience (and no good published would be interested in seperately publishing your work) or they aren't well-known in your community (and it doesn't make sense to publish with them). Stick to the legitimate PHs you know. – yo' Aug 3 '15 at 8:41
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The email

Most likely, the email is a spam email from a predatory publisher. If you have doubts, check their name through a Google search, or see if they are present on this list.

How they work

Predatory publishers send emails sometimes without you having finished your degree, as they crawl university websites for student email addresses and project names. They want to make money from your thesis, obtain full copyright to it and maybe even its intellectual property. This allows them to publish and sell wherever they see they can make money. This is often even against the rules of your university.

Actual publishers

If you want to publish a book, most publishers do not allow a thesis to be published as-is. To publish, you contact a publisher yourself, provide them with a proposal, and see if that gets accepted. Then the writing starts. More detail on this can be found here, with Springer as the example publisher.

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Background of Publishing Spam

I can confirm that most if not all of these emails are plain spam. Many of these publishers, such as for instance the one mentioned on Wikipedia, have dedicated personell or use automated Web crawlers, which browse academic institutions such as universities for publications. Their only goal is to have as many publications as possible, therefore they approach every author for every paper, journal article or other publications. Obviously there is spam which is immediately identifiable, and there is better spam. But it is spam after all.

Vanity as a Driver

As Massimo already put it, these companies are predators and aim at the vanity, which drives a lot of people. Many of these publishers use a Print on Demand, which entails that unless someone orders your book, they don't have to print it. Therefore, there is little risk for the companies. Now imageine you are a young student, you just finnished your degree and now comes this publisher, who offers you to print your work as a book, which can be bought on Amazon. And there is no cost for you, isn't that great?! Maybe someone will buy it and then you have a published book and some money.

But it's free, where is the harm?

You can be sure that many people are proud of their work, proud to be a published author. Of course they buy a copy for grandma and one for the parants and one to put on the shelf in the living room.

This is just the business model of these publishers.

How to react?

Unless you feel urge to publish a book (which is a lot of work, as the content needs to be original!), just delete these emails.

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