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Thank you, Sir Terry. Once more, you amaze and inspire me.


Moving on

Hello, update here: I have regretfully abandoned posting in the past few weeks, so here are a few additional signs of life.

First of all, my thesis has begun taking on its final form. The first 20,000 words are looking very good – I’ll have to wait for what my supervisors will say when I send the excerpt to them after Easter, but it feels great to see where things are going.

That said, the number of condolences and kind words I have received after Terry Pratchett’s passing are amazing. When I heard the news, it felt like a remote but nonetheless much beloved friend had gone out of my life. Then the messages started coming in. In the beginning I thought it rather surreal – Pratchett and Discworld have been my ongoing project for more than three years now, but I had had no personal contact with him except through his books. As more messages of condolences arrived, however, I felt touched. More than that, I felt not alone. A student and good friend of mine even called to see whether I was all right. Parts of me were.

I regret never meeting Pratchett. I feel sad about knowing that Discworld – if there will be future novels – is never going to be the same again. And I could still cry thinking about Neil Gaiman and what he must be feeling now.

But then again, I have written so much these past few weeks. It is looking really, really good. Many things will still need to be changed. But I know where it is going.

And I also know whose name will feature even more prominently in my acknowledgments.

A warning

If you ever give a paper at a conference and two days later start receiving very friendly emails from journals such as David Publishing or Lambert Academic Publishing, do NOT under any circumstances feel flattered.

Should they express interest in your paper and state that they would be happy to publish it in their journal, do NOT feel tempted to send it to them. They charge you at least 60 dollars for your paper – yes, you give them money for your intellectual property – and then publish it without proofreading, without proper footnotes and bibliography, wedged in between advertisements and bad grammar.

I was lucky. I received the first email on Monday morning following the conference weekend. After the first paragraph, I felt honoured but also slightly suspicious. In the second paragraph, they mentioned they found my paper abstract “in the electronic archives” of my university (which doesn’t make sense as my university does not even know about this paper). In the third paragraph, they asked whether I would like “to publish it in the form of a book” – quite a feat for a 20-page paper.

The second email arrived Tuesday afternoon. It looked much more elaborate and was happy not only to publish my conference paper but all my “other original and unpublished papers” were welcome. Yes. Right.

These kraken-like publishing companies are the predatory lenders of Academia. They are interested mainly in money. Your money. If you happen to send them something good, it might get published in semi-decent form provided you stuff their editors’ board with enough cash so they will actually read your paper before putting it online or print it on-demand (for more money, of course). Doing so repeatedly can damage your academic career severely.

They are still here. They have been around for years:

Watch out for companies such as these. Always double check. Always google them. If you can’t find a real person behind the email or the grammar seems slightly off, check again. Your career is worth more than this.