The American axiom of “publish or perish” for university faculty in the US is just as true for academics in Japan. In one study that I did of hiring committee members of universities during the 2012/2013 academic year, 82% stated that the biggest weakness they saw of (academically qualified) job applicants was in the area of the lack of publications of the potential hires. This result went across the board from tenured professor positions through contract lecturers and part-time instructors. The remaining 18% of those surveyed stated that it was lack of experience and education respectively. Within the same survey, of those jobs wanted that required publications, 98% of hiring committee faculty stated that any type of published book would greatly enhance an applicants’ prospects (Miller, 2012).
So, if like many of the applicants that were discussed in the study, you are in need of more publications, consider putting together a book. In an often reported study, 81% of Americans believe they “have a book in them” (Epstein, 2002), which shows that high numbers of people think of themselves as potential writers of books. But, when this is compared to the Google research that 129 million books have been published in all languages in all of history (Skipworth, 2010), and considering that the population of the US is 313 million, there is a small percentage of people who have actually published. While there are a variety of reasons for the difference between those who think that they can write and those who get published, there are far more options open to those who complete a book to see it through completion due to the various ways to publish. This is illustrated by the increasing number of books that are being published (and ISBN numbers) in greater and greater numbers (growth in the number of books being published has grown exponentially in recent years) leaving the publishing options wider and more available than ever before. This has created near perfect conditions for academics in Japan to explore and produce their own publications, from textbooks to academic books.
Therefore, while there are a number of different book genres that can be published, aside from a textbook there are two basic types that should be considered to enhance a job CV. They are an instructional (“my share” type) book and an academic book. The options open to writers that are now available are numerous, but one way to get published is to get published through companies such as Amazon. Online publishing, where the book is available for Kindle users, can also be available as print on demand through Amazon. Amazon has a number of tools to help and free Kindle books are also given away (a Kindle reader is all that is needed, which can be downloaded for iPads or PCs). While it may take time to format and prepare the book, remember that just because it is possible to publish anything these days, be sure it is your best work. Upwards of 80% of all newly published books on Amazon sell less than 100 copies, so you don’t need to expect a best seller. However, for job hunters the most important audience will be a hiring committee, and that means that it most likely will be read by decision makers for your next employer.
In the next column further ways to enhance your publications will be explored.
Miller, R. (2012). Survey of hiring faculty. Unpublished.
Epstein, J. (2002, 28 September). Think you have a book in you, think again. NY Times. Retrieved from <nytimes.com/2002/09/28/opinion/think-you-have-a-book-in-you-think-again.html>
Skipworth, H., (2010, 6 August). Google counts total number of books in the world. The Telegraph. Retrieved from<www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/7930273/Google-counts-total-number...
Vinjamuri, D. (2012, 15 August). Publishing is dying. We are drowning in indie books-and that’s a good thing. Forbes. Retrieved from <www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/7930273/Google-counts-total-number... >
Planes, A. (2011, 14 October). Amazon gets back to its roots. The Motley Fool. Retrieved from <www.fool.com/investing/general/2011/10/14/amazon-gets-back-to-its-roots.... >