If Harry Potter Was An Academic Work

from the alternative-universes dept

From the files of J. K. Rowling.

Dear Ms. Rowling,

Thank you for submitting your manuscript Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We will be happy to consider it for publication. However we have some concerns about the excessive length of this manuscript. We usually handle works of 5-20 pages, sometimes as much as 30 pages. Your 1337-page manuscript exceeds these limits, and requires some trimming.

We suggest that this rather wide-ranging work could usefully be split into a number of smaller, more tightly focussed, papers. In particular, we feel that the “magic” theme is not appropriate for our venue, and should be excised from the current submission.

Assuming you are happy to make these changes, we will be pleased to work with you on this project.

Correspondence ends.

Esteemed Joenne Kay Rowling,

We are delightful to recieve your manuscript Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and we look forword to publish it in our highly prestigious International Journal of Story Peer Reviewed which in 2013 is awarded an impact factor of 0.024.

Before we can progression this mutually benefit work, we require you to send a cheque for $5,000 US Dollars to the above address.

Correspondence ends.

Dear J.R.R. Rowling,

We are in receipt of your manuscript Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Unfortunately, after a discussion with the editorial board, we concluded that it is insufficiently novel to warrant publication in our journal, which is one of the leading venues in its field. Although your work is well executed, it does not represent a significant advance in scholarship.

That is not to say that minor studies such as yours are of no value, however! Have you considered one of the smaller society journals?

Correspondence ends.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Your submission Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has passed initial editorial checks and will now be sent to two peer-reviewers. We will contact you when we have their reports and are able to make a decision.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Re: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

We agree that eighteen months is too long for a manuscript to spend in review. On making inquiries, we find that we are unfortunately no longer able to contact the editor who was handling your submission.

We have appointed a new handling editor, who will send your submission to two new reviewers. We will contact you as soon as the new editor has made a decision.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Re: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Your complaint is quite justified. We will chase the reviewers.

Dear Dr. Rowling

I am pleased to say that the reviewers have returned their reports on your submission Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and we are able to make an editiorial decision, which is ACCEPT WITH MAJOR REVISION.

Reviewer 1 felt that the core point of your contribution could be made much more succinctly, and recommended that you remove the characters of Ron, Hermione, Draco, Hagrid and Snape. I concur with his assessment that the final version will be tighter and stronger for these cuts, and am confident that you can make them in a way that does not compromise the plot.

Reviewer 2 was positive over all, but did not like being surprised by the ending, and felt that it should have been outlined in the abstract. She also felt that citation of earlier works including Lewis (1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956) and Pullman (1995, 1997, 2000) would be appropriate, and noted an over-use of constructions such as “… said Hermione, warningly”.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Thank you for your revised manuscript of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which it is our pleasure to accept. We now ask you to sign the attached copyright transfer form, so we can proceed with publication.

Dear Dr. Rowling

I am sorry that you are unhappy about this, but transfer of copyright is our standard procedure, and we must insist on it as a prerequisite for publication. None of our other authors have complained.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Thank you for the signed copyright transfer form.

In answer to your query, no, we do not pay royalties.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Sadly, no, we are unable to make an exception in the matter of royalties.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Your book has now been formatted. We attach a proof PDF. Please read this very carefully as this is the last chance to spot errors.

You will readily appreciate that publishing is an expensive business. In order to remain competitive we have had to reduce costs, and as a result we are no longer able to offer proof-reading or copy-editing. Therefore you are responsible for ensuring the copy is clean.

At this stage, changes should be kept as small as possible, otherwise a charge may be incurred for re-typesetting.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Many thanks for returning the corrected proofs of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We will proceed with publication.

Now that the final length of your contribution is known, we are able to assess page charges. At 607 pages, this work exceeds our standard twenty free pages by 587. At $140 US per page, this comes to $82,180. We would be grateful if you would forward us a cheque for this amount at your convenience.

Dear Dr. Rowling

Thank you for you prompt payment of the page charges. We agree that these are regrettable, but sadly they are part of the reality of the publishing business.

We are delighted to inform you that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is now published online, and has been assigned the DOI 10.123.45678.

We thank you for working on this fine contribution with us, and hope you will consider us for your future publications.

Dear Dr. Rowling

You are correct, your book is not freely downloadable. As we explained earlier in this correspondence, publishing is an expensive business. We recover our substantial costs by means of subscriptions and paid downloads.

In our experience, those with the most need to read your book will probably have institutional access. As for those who do not: if your readers are as keen as you say, they will no doubt find the customary download fee of $37.95 more than reasonable. Alternatively, readers can rent online access at the convenient price of $9.95 per 24 hours.

Dear Dr. Rowling

I am sorry that you feel the need to take that tone. I must reiterate, as already stated, that the revenues from download charges are not sufficient for us to be able to pay royalties. The $37.95 goes to cover our own costs.

If you wish for your book to be available as “open access”, then you may take advantage of our Freedom Through Slavery option. This will attract a further charge of $3,000, which can be paid by cheque as previously.

Dr. Rowling

Your attitude is really quite difficult to understand. All of this was quite clearly set out on our web-site, and should have been understood by you before you made your submission.

As stated in the copyright transfer form that you signed, you do not retain the right to post freely downloadable copies of your work, since you are no longer the copyright holder.

Dr. Rowling

We must ask you not to contact your handling editor directly. He was quite shaken by your latest outburst. If you feel you must write to us again, we must ask you to moderate your language, which is quite unsuitable for a lady. Meanwhile, we remind you that our publishing agreement follows industry best practice. It’s too late to complain about it now.

Correspondence ends.

Dear Pyramid Web-Hosting,

Copyright claim

We write on behalf of our client, Ancient Monolith Scholarly Publishing, who we assert are the copyright holders of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It has come to our attention that a copy of this copyrighted work has been posted on a site hosted by you at the URL below.

This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to effect removal of the above-reported infringement. We request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified posting and prevent the infringer, Ms. J. K. Rowling, from posting the infringing material to your servers in the future. Please be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to “expeditiously remove or disable access to” the infringing material upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.

Please send us at the address above a prompt response indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.

Correspondence ends.

Historical Note

Examination of Ms. Rowling’s personal effects established that she had written most of a seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. However, Rowling never sought to publish this final book in the series.

Reposted from svpow.com

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “If Harry Potter Was An Academic Work”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Uh, what?

Its a parody and interpretation of what is wrong both logically, ethically and holistically with Academic publishing as it now stands.

Anyone who has actually attempted to publish papers using the convoluted and extremely one sided way most institutions and peer review is done by so called unbiased, niche, and scientific journals (and don’t get me started on there mostly narcissistic peer review structures) would have either gotten correspondence extremely similar if not exactly like this at some time dealing with it all.

JKR is actually quite apt being here since her original manuscripts were actually rejected by a LOT of major publishers.

madasahatter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Uh, what?

Most unknown writers are rejected by many publishers before one will accept. However most commercial publishers are relatively fast compared to academic publishers in making a decision about a work.

I remember the comment by Martin Middlebrook that an author needs to find an editor who shares the author’s idea for a book to get published by a traditional publisher. What traditionally happened was an author submitted many publishers and agents to find an editor who liked the author’s approach.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Subjunctive

Just because I think you need to be annoyed πŸ˜‰

How to Grammar!
* Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
* And don?t start a sentence with a conjunction.
* It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
* Avoid clich?s like the plague. (They?re old hat)
* Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
* Be more or less specific.
* Remarks in brackets (however relevant) are (usually) (but not always) unnecessary.
* Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
* No sentence fragments.
* Contractions aren?t necessary and shouldn?t be used.
* Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
* Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it?s highly superfluous.
* One should NEVER generalise.
* Comparisons are as bad as clich?s.
* Don?t use no double negatives.
* Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
* One-word sentences? Eliminate.
* Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
* The passive voice is to be ignored.
* Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
* Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
* Kill all exclamation points!!!
* Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
* Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
* Use the apostrophe in it?s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
* Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ?I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.?
* If you?ve heard it once, you?ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
* Puns are for children, not groan readers.
* Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
* Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
* Who needs rhetorical questions?
* Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
[ (Source: misscellania.com ]

Rich says:

Re: Re: Subjunctive

Actually, there is NO rule in English against splitting infinitives. That nonsense was made out-of-the-blue in the early 20th century (or maybe 19th) by two idiots trying to make English more like Latin. They figured since you can’t split infinitives in Latin, you shouldn’t do it in English. Before that, writers did it all the time. The rule is bullshit.

Just Sayin' says:

I guess it's suppose to be funny

…but it ain’t!

Seriously, Techdirt might want to look at Google’s recent comments that “guest posting is dead for SEO”. Putting up lame posts like this doesn’t add anything, but it certainly makes me NOT want to visit this guys seemingly un-funny site.

Keep up the good work on blocking too, I gather you have started giving OOTB the same treatment you give me, moderation for 24-72 hours just for fun. At least censorship is alive and well at Techdirt!

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Book Length.

If you want to compare works of fiction to scholarly works, I think it is more reasonable to compare them to the kinds of scholarly works which tell stories about people, specifically, History and Anthropology. In history, the normative publication is a book of about three hundred pages, and sometimes considerably more. Historians take longer to produce books than novelists, because they have to check their facts instead of making them up.

Looking up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Amazon, I find that it is only 650 _book_ pages long. That is more or less within the range of length for History books.

Anthropology is a bit different, because it has pretensions to be a science. These pretensions are false, and, thankfully, mostly ignored, and Anthropology is actually the higher travel literature (*). A good deal of work in Anthropology is published in journal form, but a major portion is published in the form of books. There are two kinds of Anthropology books. One is a conventional monograph, of about two hundred pages. An anthropologist is more restricted to a single time and place, and has a narrower field of view than a historian. The other book form is what is called a “Spindler-book,” a book of about a hundred pages, one of the Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology series, originally edited by George and Louise Spindler.

(*) In fact, in a sense, one of the primal works of Anthropology is Oliver Goldsmith’s Citizen of the World (1762), in which he used the fiction of a foreign traveler to examine the strange customs of Englishmen in general, and Londoners in particular.


On the other side, the premier form of commercial scientific literature is the advertisement, or “infomercial.” So it would be correct to compare scientific journal articles to advertisements.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: Book Length.

Most science is not terribly pure. It often has a commercial side. Often it tends to result in patents, or it constitutes testing of patented materials (eg. drug testing). The patented processes or substances become the bases of commercial products. Alternatively, the researchers need really a money to build something like a giant particle accelerator. Then there are stock-market promotions. One way or another, scientific research has a “selling” side, either advertising or lobbying, as the case may be. Sometimes this takes the form of regular advertisements, but often it takes other forms, such as interviews with sympathetic and uncritical journalists. When Elon Musk tells a bunch of journalists that electric batteries are going to rapidly become better and cheaper, that is a form of commercial scientific publication tending to enrich Elon Musk.

If you are going to critique academic science publishing, the way to do so is by reference to its commercial equivalent. In the case of things like drug trials, the question you want to ask about the academic publication process is whether it tends to protect the public safety or not.

Sunhawk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

  • Academic papers are freely submitted.

    * In fact, some journals charge fees for submission.

    * Academic papers are peer-reviewed – by what are effectively volunteers.

    * The fees for access to academic journals are absurd, particularly considering the above.

    * Some journals demand copyrights over the paper.

    * The above has literally led to academics that offer their own work freely on a website being hit with takedown notices.

    * It has also led to academics being unable to use the results of studies done in previous work – that they did – in future work.

    * The above two actually hinders that which the research is meant to advance. In a very petty manner, to boot.

    Now, this varies from field to field; in Computer Science, there’s less of these kinds of problems. Partially because the big boys (ACM, IEEE) don’t play that way, and partially because it’s a lot more conference-centered than journal article-centered.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop Β»

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...