Philip Nel > FAQ

Philip Nel's Homepage: Frequently Asked Questions

 

I wish that I could answer all emails I receive.
                                
But I can't.
                                
               
So, I've created this page.

 

Let me begin with some general advice. Because there are only so many hours in a day,...

  • If your email has no subject line, I may mistake it for spam and delete it unread.
  • If your email has a vague subject line, I may think that it's spam and delete it. So, please be specific.
  • If your question is answered below, I will delete your email.
  • If you've followed these guidelines but haven't heard from me in 24 hours, please write again! I sometimes lose track of emails, and appreciate the reminder.


Please skip ahead to the category that best describes you:


My Students

Answers to questions asked by students who are or have been in my classes. . .

Some general advice:

  • If it's during the school year and you don't hear from me within 24 hours, then:
    • Check your email: Did you put in a subject heading? If you didn't, then I may not have read it. Is your subject heading specific? If it's vague, I may have mistaken your email for spam and deleted it without reading. See the general advice, above.
    • If you followed the general advice but received no reply, then please write again. I get a lot of email every day, and sometimes I miss some of it. I don't mind a follow-up email — indeed, I appreciate it!
  • If it's during the summer,
    • then please keep in mind that I am not employed by Kansas State Unversity during the summer. You may not get an immediate reply.

Papers
Q: I have a question about my paper.
A: Either send me an email with your question or, if you'd prefer to chat in person, let's set up a time to meet. My office hours are listed on our class syllabus and on the Courses page. Please remember that my office hours are also by appointment. So, if those times don't work for you, then please let me know when you will be available.
 
Q: May I email you my paper so that you can look it over?
A: No. You may email me a paragraph or two with specific questions. I have too many students to offer a proofreading service. In any case, you should be learning to proofread your own work.

If you have more questions than can be addressed in an exchange of emails, then let's set up a time to meet. You'll bring in your paper (or a draft or an outline, etc.) and I'll be happy to answer whatever questions you may have.

 
Grading
Q: What's my grade in your class?
A: Please look at the "Grading" section near the top of the syllabus. Divide the total points you've earned by the total points you could have earned, and then multiply the result by 100. You can do this at any point in the semester to see how you're doing.

If you have other questions about your grade, then let's make an appointment to talk about it. Stop me after class or send me an email with some times when you're free.

 
Q: What grade did I get on my final exam? OR: What's my final grade?
A: In any given semester, I have between 60 and 90 students. Were I to answer all such queries, I would be unable to get other work done. As a result, I cannot answer these questions. Please be patient. When available, your grades will be posted on iSIS.
 
J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter
Q: I heard you teach a Harry Potter class! How do I enroll?
A: For any questions about English 440: Harry Potter's Library, please see the FAQ on English 440: Harry Potter's Library. Thank you.
 
Children's Literature
Q: How do I enroll in your English 355 (Literature for Children) course? The course catalogue says I need instructor permission.
A: Please see "Enrolling in ENGL 355: Literature for Children" on the English Department's website. Thank you.
 

Other Students

Answers to questions asked by students who are not in my classes. . .

Some general advice:

  • I won't do your homework for you. I have work of my own to do. There are many resources you can consult -- in libraries and on the web. Start there.

Dr. Seuss
Q: I'm writing a paper on Dr. Seuss for my class in _________. Will you please answer these questions?
A:

No. All I have to say are in my books, Dr. Seuss: American Icon (2004) and The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats (2007), and in my other essays on the subject, such as:

I have also assembled some links on Dr. Seuss. I also write about Seuss on my blog -- see the posts tagged "Seuss." You might consult these sources for further information.

 
Q: I've read your book, Dr. Seuss: American Icon, and I have a question about something you say on page ___. Will you please answer my question? OR: I've read your book, The Annotated Cat, and I have a question about something you say on page ___. Will you please answer my question?
A: I'll certainly try. Please keep in mind that I have many commitments, and cannot always answer as promptly as I would like to. But, by all means, please ask away. I'll see what I can do.
 
J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter
Q: I heard you teach a Harry Potter class! How do I enroll?
A: For any questions about English 440: Harry Potter's Library, please see the FAQ on English 440: Harry Potter's Library. Thank you.
 
Q: I'm writing a paper on Harry Potter for my class in _________. Will you please answer these questions?
A: No. All I have to say is in my book, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Novels: A Reader's Guide and in my other essays on the subject, such as the ones on...:

I have also assembled some links on J. K. Rowling. You might consult them for further information.

 
Q: I've read your book and/or article on J. K. Rowling, and I have a question about something you say on page ___. Will you please answer my question?
A: I'll certainly try. Please keep in mind that I have many commitments, and cannot always answer as promptly as I would like to. But, by all means, please ask away. I'll see what I can do.
 
Children's Literature
Q: I have a question about Children's Literature. . .
A: I've assembled some links related to Children's Literature. Please consult those before emailing me.
 
Q: How do I enroll in your English 355 (Literature for Children) course? The course catalogue says I need instructor permission.
A: Please see "Enrolling in ENGL 355: Literature for Children" on the English Department's website. Thank you.
 
Don DeLillo
Q: I have a question about Don DeLillo. . .
A: As of August 2014, I am no longer the webmaster of the Don DeLillo Society.
 
Crockett Johnson
Q: I have a question about Crockett Johnson. . .
A: Please see the Crockett Johnson Homepage FAQ, or read my Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature (2012), or my Afterwords to one of the Barnaby volumes (Fantagraphics, 2013-2017).
 
Other
Q: My question doesn't fall into one of the above categories.
A: OK, then, ask away.
 

My Advisees

Answers to questions asked by my advisees. . .

Some general advice:

  • If it's during the school year and you don't hear from me within 24 hours, then:
    • Check your email: Did you put in a subject heading? If you didn't, then I may not have read it. Is your subject heading specific? If it's vague, I may have mistaken your email for spam and deleted it without reading. See the general advice, above.
    • If you followed the general advice but received no reply, then please write again. I get a lot of email every day, and sometimes I miss some of it.
  • If it's during the summer,
    • then please keep in mind that I am not employed by Kansas State Unversity during the summer. If you have advising questions during the summer, please consult the English Department's Advising FAQ page and contact our Lead Advisor.

Appointment
Q: I need to make an advising appointment with you.
A: Please provide some times when you're free during the next week. To give you some idea of when I'm free, my teaching schedule and office hours (which are also by appointment) are on the Courses page of this site. Of course, I also have meetings and other appointments that vary from week to week. But the Courses page does at least convey some of my prior committments.

Contacting me by email is a better way to reach me than contacting me by phone.

Finally, when you come to your appointment, be prepared. Have a list of what courses you're planning to take or what courses you're trying to decide on taking.

 
Question
Q: I have a question about . . .
A: First, check the English Department's Advising FAQ page. If your answer cannot be found via those links, then go ahead and email me.

In your email message, please be as specific as you can. I'll do my best to follow up, but keep in mind that my advising information is in my office -- so, if I'm responding from home, I may not be able to provide as complete an answer.

 

Seeking Me as a Speaker

Answers to questions asked by people seeking me as a speaker. . .

Q: Will you speak at our conference/banquet/other event?
A: Send me an email, and let me know the date, location, and type of event. I check email several times during the day, unless I'm traveling or on a research trip -- if I am, then I'll still check, but less frequently. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Q: On what topics are you willing to speak?
A: For a list of possible subjects, please see the "Invited Lectures" section of my CV. Looking elsewhere on the CV will also give you a sense of other current projects -- and, therefore, other possible subjects.
 


Journalists

Answers to questions asked by journalists. . .

Q: I'm writing a story on ________. Could we set up a time to chat?
A: Sure. Email is the best way to reach me. Send me an email, and tell me how I might best get in touch with you. I check email several times during the day, unless I'm traveling or on a research trip -- if I am, then I'll still check, but less frequently. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
 

Seeking Publishing Advice

Answers to general questions about publishing. . .

Q: How can I become a children's book writer and/or illustrator? Or: I've written/illustrated this manuscript I'd like to send you....
A: The best single thing you could do would be to check out children's book editor Harold Underdown's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books. He has much more experience in the publishing industry than I do. Plus, he's a fan of Harold and the Purple Crayon, so what's not to like? The Key Resources page is the place to begin.

Please don't send me materials. I'm not an agent.

 
Q: How can I get an agent?
A: As with the previous question, I would again direct you to Harold Underdown's excellent advice.
 
Q: How do you write a book proposal?
A: Book proposals differ depending on whether they are for commercial publishers or academic publishers. Generally speaking, a proposal for a commercial publisher tends to be more detailed.

For advice on how to write an academic proposal, see my "How to Publish Your Book; or, The Little Manuscript That Could." For more general academic advice, you might peruse my blog posts tagged "Academe."

For excellent advice on academic publishing and other kinds of publishing, check out William Germano's Getting it Published, an excerpt of which appears on the University of Chicago Press's website. Note to recent Ph.D.s: before you try to sell that dissertation as a book, take a look at Germano's From Dissertation to Book, an excerpt of which can be found on the University of Chicago Press's website.

For some good general resources, take a look at Pat McNees' Writers and Editors website.

 


Authors with manuscripts for Routledge's Children's Literature & Culture series

Answers to questions from prospective (or current) authors the Routledge series I edit. . .

Q: I have a book proposal or manuscript I'd like to send you.
A: Please send to my university email address and copy Elizabeth J. Levine <Elizabeth.Levine@taylorandfrancis.com> at Routledge.

If you're sending a complete manuscript, please include a copy of a book proposal, too.

If you're sending a book proposal, please include a couple of sample chapters, one of which (ideally) should be the introduction.

Finally, it would be helpful if you used the word Routledge somewhere in your email (the subject line is a good place). Thank you.

 
Q: How long will it take you to respond?
A:

For proposals and sample chapters, my goal is one month. If six weeks pass, and you've not heard from me, then please follow up (and copy Liz Levine <Elizabeth.Levine@taylorandfrancis.com> when you do).

For manuscripts, I'm likely to need longer. But, again, please do feel free to follow up.

Depending on how many proposals and manuscripts are in the queue, my response time may vary. As editor of this series, I receive no course releases nor any other assistance from my university. So, it's always a matter of finding space to get everything done. (For broader context, see my essay, "In Search of Lost Time" [Inside Higher Ed, 3 Mar. 2014]).

 
Q: How do I write a book proposal?
A: See the advice, above. If you seek Routledge's specific guidelines, ask Liz Levine <Elizabeth.Levine@taylorandfrancis.com> or me, and we'll send them to you.
 

Other

Answers to other questions . . .

Dr. Seuss
Q: I have a question about Dr. Seuss. . .
A:

Please see my books, Dr. Seuss: American Icon (2004) and The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats (2007), and in my other essays on the subject, such as:

You might also consult my links on Dr. Seuss, or read my blog posts tagged "Seuss." If, after consulting these sources, you still have a question, then please go ahead and ask.

 
J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter
Q: I have a question about J. K. Rowling or Harry Potter.
A: Please see my book, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Novels: A Reader's Guide (2001) and my other essays on the subject, such as the ones on. . .:

You might also consult my links on J. K. Rowling. If, after consulting these sources, you still have a question, then please go ahead and ask.

 
Children's Literature
Q: I have a question about Children's Literature. . .
A: I've assembled some links related to Children's Literature. Please consult those before emailing me.
 
Crockett Johnson
Q: I have a question about Crockett Johnson. . .
A: Please see the Crockett Johnson Homepage FAQ, or read my Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature (2012), or my Afterwords to one of the Barnaby volumes (Fantagraphics, 2013-2017).
 
Don DeLillo
Q: I have a question about Don DeLillo. . .
A: As of August 2014, I am no longer the webmaster of the Don DeLillo Society.
 
Other
Q: Hey, my question doesn't fall into one of your other categories! What I want to know is . . .
A: OK, drop me a line.
 

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Program in Children's Literature | Department of English | Kansas State University

Last updated Monday, August 25, 2014 .