Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
Regarding our Publishing Program
- Why Do We Publish?
- What Do We Publish?
- For Whom Do We Publish?
- How Do We Differ From Other Publishers?
- Who Are Our Authors?
- How Do We Decide What to Publish?
- How Long Does It Take to Get Something Into Print?
- Why Does It Sometimes Take So Long?
- How Does the Process Work?
- How Do We Fund Our Publishing Efforts?
- How Much Does It Cost?
- What About Electronic Publishing?
- Does the Bureau Still Publish Maps?
- Is There a Bureau Style?
- How Do Bureau Staff Get Something in the Hopper?
- How Do Authors from Outside the Bureau Get Something Published at the Bureau?
- What’s the Fastest Way to Get Something Published?
- Who Prioritizes Our Publishing Projects?
- How Big Is Our Staff?
- When Do We Use Freelance Support?
- Isn’t Everything the Bureau Does Copyright Free?
- To Whom Should I Address Inquiries?
We publish to fulfill an important part of our mission: to provide information on the geology of the state to the geologic community, to other state and federal agencies, and to the people of New Mexico. Publishing has traditionally been one of our most successful outreach tools and was mandated in the 1927 enabling act by which the bureau came into being.
In addition to geologic maps and technical monographs, which have been the mainstay of our program for over 75 years, we publish a number of more general publications on the geology of New Mexico. We also publish New Mexico Geology, a quarterly peer-reviewed journal, and a number of free publications, including Earth Matters and Lite Geology.
We publish for geologists, decision makers, educators, and the lay public. Publishing continues to be one of our most successful outreach efforts.
We are a so-called “non-profit” or educational publisher—meaning that we publish primarily as part of our mission, and not primarily to generate income. This isn’t to say that we don’t generate income; we do. Income from our publishing program generally goes to support the development of new publications. Our program is funded by state appropriations, occasional grant support, and income from publication sales. We have the luxury of being able to devote resources to publications that commercial publishers would be unwilling to tackle, and we have at our fingertips both the resources and the professional staff to produce those publications.
Like most publishers of our kind, we are dedicated to the integrity of our publications. Whether it’s a technical monograph, a geologic map, or a Scenic Trip, we work hard to provide an authoritative and unbiased source of information. Our reputation depends upon it. We edit deeply, all of our publications go through several levels of peer review, and we work closely with our authors and staff to produce high-quality publications that are not only technically accurate but graphically excellent as well.
Our authors come to us from far and wide. They include our own staff as well as researchers from all over the United States who work in New Mexico or surrounding states.
Each year we prioritize publications for the coming year. The bureau director makes the final decision regarding upcoming publications, based on recommendations from the staff. Publications in support of a specific program (like our Decision-Makers Field Conferences) or those tied to grant-funded programs often receive a higher priority, simply because we are guaranteed the resources to do them. But we try to maintain an overall balance in the program. We also try to undertake those publications that are best suited to our mission as a state survey, and to our scope of publishing.
Many of our most valuable publications (like our Decision-Makers Field Guides) are generated from within the bureau, to meet the needs of specific programs or initiatives. We rely heavily, of course, on contributors from outside the bureau to give these works the overall balance and authority they need.
That depends on many factors. Often we are working with a backlog of publication projects, and always we are working on several different publications at any given time. Both our staff and our financial resources are limited, so we have to be careful about how much we undertake to publish in a given year. It can take a year for us to publish a technical monograph that comes to us in good shape, which does not require a great deal of drafting, and is at the top of the priority list for that year. Complex publications (like our Scenic Trips, or some of our longer, heavily illustrated technical publications) can take two years or more to complete.
Publishing by its very nature is both expensive and time consuming, and there are few short-cuts for publishers like us. A 500-page monograph with 150 illustrations can be enormously time consuming to edit, put into layout, and produce. Larger projects and longer manuscripts are more vulnerable to scheduling conflicts. If many authors are involved, we have to rely on timely responses from all of the authors in order to bring the project to completion. Quite often the delays occur in outside review and in the time authors take to respond to suggestions made by reviewers. Full color publications require an added level of complexity (and cost), and are particularly time consuming to produce. Electronic publications are less expensive to produce (production costs are a fraction of printed publications), but no less time consuming in terms of editing and production. In addition to editing (a complex and timely process in itself), we spend time perfecting our graphics, acquiring necessary photos, permissions, and finalizing layout and production.
Once a work has been accepted for publication, we must obtain the completed manuscript from the author(s). Unless peer review has already been completed, our editorial staff is responsible for sending manuscripts to outside reviewers for comments. Substantive editing (for content, clarity, structure, voice, etc.) comes next. Meanwhile, our staff in graphics and cartography must complete (or, in some cases, produce from scratch) all of the graphics for a given publication. Photos must be gathered, and must be of acceptable quality for offset printing (if it’s a print publication). For some photos and graphics we must acquire rights and permissions. Copy edits for grammar, spelling, consistency, punctuation, etc. are then accomplished. Once all of this is complete, the publication goes to layout. Final graphics and captions must be reviewed by the author(s). Final publication in layout, with photos, graphics, and captions in place must then be reviewed. We then contract for production (which involves seeking bids; all state expenditures of this magnitude must be handled through a bidding process, which can itself be time-consuming). Publications which cost in excess of $10,000 to produce (i.e., many of our print publications) must go through a closed-bid process, through the New Mexico Tech purchasing division. Final production, once the project has been awarded and turned over to the printer, generally takes an additional 3-4 weeks.
Our publishing program is funded through state appropriations, through occasional grant funding (generally tied to specific projects), and with funds generated from publication sales. Those efforts that come with financial support tend to be handled more expeditiously, for the simple reason that the money is there.
This varies enormously from project to project, and depends a great deal on media (print vs. electronic), press run (anywhere from 250 copies to 5,000 copies), size and scope of project, and the overall cost of production at any given time. Print publications (just for printing, paper, and binding) can run from $5,000 to $35,000 for a single press run, not counting development costs. One thousand copies of a single 7½-minute geologic quadrangle map can cost between $4,000 and $5,000. A printed, full-color, oversized map run (like our state geologic map) can cost over $20,000, even for a press run of only 3,000.
This has become more and more a part of our program, particularly with regard to geologic maps and technical publications. Why? Because the electronic versions of some of these publications often better serve the end user. Increasingly, folks who want geologic maps want GIS products that they can manipulate for their own needs and incorporate into their own projects. Even monographs (our Bulletin 160, for instance) sometimes come with complex databases that are of far more use to people in an electronic format. Development costs (in terms of staff time and salaries) for electronic publications are much the same as for any other printed publication, but production costs for electronic publications are a fraction of the cost of most of our printed publications.
One of our most popular and effective “publications” is our Web site itself. In addition to downloadable copies of many of our maps and other publications, we offer on our Web site a wealth of information on the geology of the state, for researchers, educators, and the general public.
Absolutely. Maps have been and continue to be one of our most significant products. Many of our individual geologic quadrangle maps are now available in electronic format, often as free downloads from our Web site. We continue to print larger map compilations (including our state geologic map). The decision whether to print or not is made on a case by case basis, and depends greatly upon the needs of the end user, as well as upon the perceived market. Most of the maps from our enormously productive STATEMAP program are available as free downloads on our Web site and/or on CD-ROM.
Actually, there are several. For editorial style we rely on the Chicago Manual of Style, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Suggestions to Authors, the American Geological Institute’s Glossary of Geology, and the geologic conventions of our time. We also use an evolving Bureau Editorial Stylesheet (available in PDF format) that provides consistency for spelling and punctuation of local place names, abbreviations, and other geological terms. Publications that are written and edited for a popular audience require a slightly different style and are edited accordingly.
All of our publications have standardized graphic styles that have been developed over the years by our professional publishing staff, but they may vary from publication to publication. These standards are based on ease of use, clarity, and convention. As publishers we are in the business of communication, so that is our primary concern. In adjusting and/or revising the graphics we receive from authors for any of our publications, our primary goal is clarity, consistency, appropriateness to the given audience, and an overall professional look for that publication.
The same way anyone else does: by making a proposal to the Chief Editor. A formal questionnaire for incoming proposals is available on our Web site. We ask that all proposals come to us in writing, with as much background material as possible. The questionnaire we provide will help guide you through the kinds of information we need. One of the questions we always ask ourselves is: Are we the best publisher for this material? Would the author be better served by publishing in a different venue?
By making a formal proposal to the Chief Editor using a formal application/questionnaire for incoming proposals. We need to have the answers to the questions listed on this questionnaire so that we can make informed decisions about proposals that come to us. We ask that all proposals come to us in writing, with as much background material as possible. The questionnaire we provide will help guide you through the kinds of information we need. Clearly we get more proposals than we are able to accept, and our resources (both staff and financial) are limited. One of the questions we always ask ourselves is: Are we the best publisher for this material? Would the author be better served by publishing in a different venue? In general, the competition among prospective authors for publishers is greater than it has been.
The fastest way to get something published is through our Open-file series. Incoming manuscripts for the OF series do receive a review before being accepted, but are not subject to the same rigors of peer review, editing, and graphic support as our more formal publications. The idea here is to get the information out as quickly as possible to the people who most need it.
Open-file reports are available on CD ROM at a nominal cost (usually about $10 each). In the future we hope to make many of them available for free downloading on our Web site. (Some larger OFs are simply too large or complex for this.)
Priorities are set by the bureau director, based upon available resources, our scope of publishing, and recommendations from the staff. Although it would be nice to say that the projects that come in first get done first, it isn’t always quite that simple. Some projects have firmer or more rigorous deadlines than others, often based on funding requirements, specific events, etc.
Our publishing program staff includes three full-time editors (who are also responsible for layout and production of many of our publications), two full-time computer graphics people, a chief editor, and the staff of our publication sales office. We rely heavily on support from other groups at the bureau (including Cartography/GIS), and many of our professional staff offer their expertise in reviewing incoming manuscripts.
When we lack the resources we need in-house. We rely on freelance professional book designers for many of our more popular titles, and we sometimes rely on outside support for map layout. All of our printing is accomplished out of house through a bidding process. Many of the publications are printed locally in New Mexico.
No. Copyright law (which originated with the U.S. Constitution) guarantees that publications produced by federal employees are in the public domain. This is not the case for individual states (popular opinion to the contrary). Copyright on works accomplished by bureau employees and/or published by the bureau is held by the state of New Mexico, through the bureau and New Mexico Tech. However, authors that are not bureau, state, or federal employees retain copyright on their own material.
We are very generous in granting permission to reprint pieces of our publications (including our in-house maps and graphics), and many of our publications are available free on our Web site. Persons seeking permission to reproduce graphics from any of our publications (print or digital) should contact our Production Editor.
Maintaining copyright isn’t just a technicality; it makes good sense. It gives us the ability to control how and where our materials are distributed (or not distributed, as in the case of older, out-of-date publications). Furthermore, for many of the individual pieces in our popular publications (i.e., most of the professional photographs), we do not own copyright. We generally purchase one-time use rights on such things, and the originators of those items (photographers, graphic artists, etc.) hold the copyright on them.
Inquiries should be directed to the Chief Editor.