Author success story
Context about the author:
Anna Backman Rogers is a Professor of Aesthetics and Visual Culture specialising in Feminist Theory at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Please provide some background information on the research project, book origin, adjacent research, and/or network enabling the book
There have been numerous articles, and a celebrated book by Nathalie Lèger on Barbara Loden’s Wanda, but nearly all of these centred on Loden herself evincing a determined effort to read Loden’s sole feature film through biography, which I find personally quite misogynist. This book provided an important counter-example to many of the myths and inaccuracies that have built up around both Loden and her film.
What was/were your motivation(s) for wanting to publish this book?
I love the film in a deeply personal way and felt that not much of the existing scholarship paid close attention to the aesthetics and politics of Loden’s film. I wanted to set the record straight on Loden’s accomplishment as an act of feminist scholarship, but I also wanted to ‘throw my hat into the ring’ in terms of the existing conversation not only around Loden’s film, but also women’s authorship and creative agency.
Please give some information on the funding behind the research / book / network
I wrote this book in my spare time, which is sadly how much of my research is conducted despite working full time at a tenured job in academia. Most of my working hours are devoted to teaching and administrative duties. However, my salary does allow me not to have to worry about making ends meet whilst I write – and for that I am grateful.
Was the book made available on your own website, or the website of any other editors or contributors, or your institution? If so, please state which.
No. I don’t have a personal website or any social media.
Open access success story:
What makes this book successful?
In many ways, the ethos of making this book open access is in keeping with Loden’s filmmaking and her own politics. I know that there is a community of film viewers devoted to Wanda and I wanted anyone who desired to read this book to have access to it regardless of whether they had the means to purchase a copy or are attached to an institution with access to an academic library.
Why did you choose to publish this book open access?
For all of the above reasons, punctum is the best home for this book. As soon as I read their mission statement, I knew this was the publisher for my book. There is not another academic press that would have allowed me to write 45,000 words in this emotive, personal way on a single film. Everything from the peer review, to the copy edit, to the cover design has been a really wonderful experience. I couldn’t be happier and given my past experiences with a lot of academic publishers, believe me, I have a lot of complaints about this industry!
Do you think that open access publication helped the book and if so, why?
Absolutely. I think it has reached and is reaching a wider audience that would have been possible otherwise. The fact that it already had a very positive review in Filmmaker magazine by Prof Holly Willis is a testament to the open access model. Normally these kinds of reviews take years to emerge.
Did your OA book show immediate success upon publication, or did the success unfold more slowly over time?
It is difficult to tell as it’s only been 6 months and people are often inundated with new options to read. That said, I know of several people who have already gotten in touch with me about the book and I know there is a potential review forthcoming in the LARB, which has never happened to me before.
If early signs of success started to show, did you try to reinforce this in an unusual or creative way?
I am social media shy so I am ashamed to say I have not done very much to promote my own book. I did some introductions to Wanda at my local cinema on its 50th anniversary last year and I think some people from that audience went on to order the book.
Did open access help to reach unreachable / unknown / unexpected / new audiences? If yes, how do you know this?
I think it’s reached a more general audience by virtue of being open access.
Did open access make new connections / follow-up possible?
Yes, some people I have never met wrote to me about the book.
Is there any long tail (awareness, citations, downloads) of this book that you consider would (most likely) not have happened with print sales only or toll-access?
It has likely been downloaded far more than anything else I have written.
How do you think academia can benefit from your book being OA?
It can be immediately prescribed for courses; it doesn’t put an undue toll on institutional libraries as the cost for even a print copy is very reasonable.
How do you think society at large can benefit from your book being OA?
It offers a chance to be part of a wider public conversation than is normally available to a scholar such as myself. I also hope that it will bring a new audience to Loden’s incredible film.
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