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Late authors, memorable excuses

My success as a publisher of thousands of academic writers is that I am a notorious last-minute author myself. I know all the tricks, excuses, and distractions that keep a writer from buckling down and finishing the job. This awareness hasn’t improved my own behavior (oh do I have some great excuses) it has enabled me to get other people to write faster than most publishers believe possible. I’ve been told that I “twist arms.” I had a scholar look at me quizzically when we met at a conference, “I still don’t know how you talked me into that.” But with a project like the Encyclopedia of Sustainability, with almost 1,000 authors, all kinds of problems arise. Some of them were weather-related. Others had to do with infectious disease. Here are a few memorable examples, culled by Bill Siever:

Dewald van Niekerk, director of the African Centre for Disaster Studies in South Africa, author of “Disaster Management” in Afro-Eurasia: Assessing Sustainability, had to deliver his article a few days late because, he said:

“I have been struggling to stick to many deadlines the past two months. We had massive wild fires and my centre assisted our provincial government in assessing the damage and handling claims from 1,600 farmers. It has been a bit hectic. I have not made as much progress on the chapter as hoped. There are still too many loose ends. Is it possible to ask for an extension on the due date (I sound like one of my students now!).”

…which sounds like a reasonable reason for delay to me!

Volume 7, China, India, and East and Southeast Asia: Assessing Sustainability, has had two authors who were stricken with typhoid fever. Editor Anne Marie Liu had to deliver a review of an article over the phone because she was on doctor’s orders to stay away from computers after being poked in the eye so hard by her baby son that she had to go to the emergency room. She’s been told there will be no lasting damage, though, which is good news. Her son was born just before Hurricane Irene hit the US – he sounds like he’s going to be trouble!

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