This year, I had my first article published outside of my work’s newsletter. I was over the moon when I held the magazine and flipped to page 77 and saw my name! You bet I memorized the page number. I started writing small articles for my job’s newsletter in 2016. The articles are short due to the space that is allotted in the newsletter – each about a page long. After graduating in 2018, publishing was the goal! All I wanted to do was research and write history. Other than researching and writing, I had very little idea of what the actual publishing process looked like and took each step as it came.
Sometime in October of 2018, I met one of the gentlemen who edits the SoJourn: A journal devoted to the history, culture, and geography of South Jersey at my workplace. The publication is published through Stockton University. He encouraged my partner and myself to submit articles on local South Jersey history to the SoJourn. At the time, I was barely a month into my position as the society’s curator – talk about a fish out of water. The idea of writing was comforting because it was so similar to my schoolwork and it was something I really wanted to do. I was thrilled by his encouragement.
About a year prior to this meeting, while processing an old collection of newspapers, I stumbled upon the Woman’s Edition of the Daily Pioneer (1898), which was a one-off special edition of the Daily Pioneer, that was published in Bridgeton, NJ. When encouraged to submit an article, I knew this newspaper had to be the focal point of it. But first, I had questions.
I reached out to the editor to ask if the magazine was peer-reviewed and what were the expectations regarding length and images. The idea of getting an article in a peer-review journal was the ultimate goal, but the magazine is not peer-reviewed and honestly for my first article, I think that was for the best. I addition to receiving the requirements, I also informed the editor of the topic of my article and if he thought it would be of interest for the Sojourn. Once I heard back with his approval, I dived into researching and the writing process.
It took me about nine months to finish a rough draft, and in July of 2019, I finally submitted my first draft. Clicking send on that email was an awesome feeling! I received edits and feedback about two to three months later in the beginning of October. I was eager to work through the edits and return the article as quickly as I could, about 2-3 weeks later. The finals edits were exchanged in May of 2020, and in July I read and approved the final draft for publication.
More importantly than my work and name in print in a way I have never seen it before, I learned so many things. Firstly, to make this paper even possible, other than researching, I had to set deadlines for myself to ensure I actually completed the first draft. Deadlines were sometimes really hard to keep when the TV was calling my name after work. (I am not ashamed to admit that TV has become a hobby since starting my career – and puzzles…while watching TV…)
The editing process was an awesome learning experience! When I received my first edited draft, it was apparent that I was unclear when explaining what type of newspaper the woman’s edition was. While it seemed clear to me, that was only because I had been researching it and was able to fill in the blanks on my own without realizing it and read things into the paper that I did not explicitly write. In addition to clearly explaining myself, at one point in the editing process I felt as though my voice was being removed from the article and it did not sound like me in some areas of the paper. While it would have been easy for me to just go with the flow, I wanted to be proud of the final product and I did not feel like I could be without it sounding like me. Ultimately, I learned how to re-edit my voice back into the paper while still meeting the publication’s standards and submitting a final draft that the editors were happy with.
Overall, it was an awesome experience and I would definitely submit another article to the Sojourn for publication. The editors were incredibly helpful and patient throughout the entire process, especially when I would send emails panicking due to mistakes I had made. If you are researching anything pertaining to South Jersey history and are thinking of publishing, I would definitely suggest reaching out to the editors of Sojourn. Lastly, the publishing process is different with each publication, type of publication, and whether it is peer-review or not.
SoJourn: A journal devoted to the history, culture, and geography of South Jersey, https://stockton.edu/sjchc/publications/