FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Army News Service, Jan. 15, 2016) -- Soldiers are always coming up with a lot of really great ideas. The best way to share those ideas is to publish them, said Dr. Donald P. Wright, deputy director of Army Press.
If the process of getting published sounds daunting to someone who is not a writer by vocation, fear not, he said. Army Press will assist.
ABOUT ARMY PRESS
The relatively new Army Press stood up in August. Army Press combines the staff of the journal Military Review, or MR, with Combat Studies Institute, or CSI, the book publishing side. In October, Army Press Online, or APO, stood up and joined them.
Wright said that the plan for later this year is for the NCO Journal - out of Fort Bliss, Texas - to physically move to Fort Leavenworth and join Army Press in a building located next to the Command and General Staff College, or CGSC.
A final element of Army Press is a bit different than the rest, Wright noted. A special team from Army Press produces online iBooks about mission command used in wars throughout history, virtual battlefield tours of Iraq and Afghanistan and other topics. These books are interactive and multimedia, working off the iPad platform. "Young Soldiers love them," he said. (Some examples are showcased in the links section.)
UNDER ONE UMBRELLA
The significance of these mergers is to get Soldiers published in an expedited manner and, just as importantly, to get their work published in the most relevant venue, Wright said.
Previously, Soldiers would submit their manuscripts in a stovepipe fashion, he said, for instance, to one of the branch journals like Armor, Infantry, Fires, or Army Sustainment. Or, they might submit to MR or CSI.
However, a manuscript dealing with logisticians, for example, might actually have a broader appeal to a larger Army audience rather than a niche readership. This is where the editors at Army Press step in to assist, he said.
The editors review the manuscript and they determine where it will have the most impact, he said. That saves a lot of time for the writers and their works get showcased in the best possible venue.
Here's how to start the process:
Soldiers, and even civilians, can log onto the main portal of the Army Press website: http://armypress.dodlive.mil/. No common access card is needed. From there, the site gets the Soldier started with the process.
THE GOOD PART
For someone who hasn't yet been published, there are other benefits of going through Army Press that are enormous, Wright said.
Once a Soldier submits his or her manuscript to Army Press, there's person-to-person contact between an editor and that writer, he said. "We provide feedback to the author. There's a back and forth with them. We tell them what's good, what needs to be revised and so on."
Not only that, the article gets reviewed by "multiple sets of eyes," he said. The topic is matched with the right subject-matter expert, many of whom are located right at Fort Leavenworth.
The rigorous review process ensures the quality of the manuscript will be top-notch, he added.
To illustrate how the process works, Wright provided some current examples.
A major attending CGSC recently submitted her master's degree thesis to Army Press. It deals with the German judiciary system during the Nazi regime leading up to World War II. "It's not exactly military, it's not tactics, it's not on the battlefield, but it is military-related and there are people who are interested in this particular subject," he pointed out, adding that the author isn't even in the legal profession, but her work is outstanding.
Of course, a manuscript relating directly to U.S. Army operations will be of more interest to the larger Army audience, he said, but that shouldn't stop someone from submitting something that's tangentially related.
Another officer wrote a memoir about his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and coming home and dealing with the challenges of the transition, Wright said.
The Soldier said he wanted to get published outside the government, "So we're looking to connect him with a private press," Wright said, since the manuscript has broad appeal.
"We can help with that too. We have connections outside the U.S. government. It's an example of how far we can look."
"He emailed me today and said 'I may want to go with Army Press. I want this to be for Soldiers.' So we're in discussions about that," Wright continued.
A former battalion commander had a manuscript about World War II he'd written, "And we've been working with him on and off for probably 18 months, helping him refine it while he commanded a battalion," Wright said. "It's ready to go now and will be going into our editorial queue soon."
That manuscript will become a CSI-published book about how Army corps commanders dealt with the need for tactical flexibility and how they reorganized and moved divisions around from Normandy to Berlin during World War II, he said.
"No one's really written on this. We helped him; we read it, gave him comments, he's been reacting to them. We do email, phone calls, we continue working with him," Wright said.
Another example regards someone Army Press will not be assisting.
This individual wanted to get published, but was already working with a literary agent. "In that case, we can't help him because we can't be involved directly with agents," Wright explained. "He didn't know how marketable the manuscript was and still doesn't. I wrote back and said I can't work with you if you're working with a literary agent. We'll consider publishing it if it doesn't work out for you."
It should be pointed out monetary transactions are not made between authors and Army Press. For those looking to make money, Wright encourages them to look elsewhere.
But the benefits of being published by Army Press are still substantial: professional development, helping advance the profession of arms by sharing thoughtful insights and discussions. Being published also can advance Soldiers' careers, he added. And the Army Press connects authors with a military audience, something that many writers seek.
SPEED OF PUBLISHING
Getting published can take a few weeks to a year; it all depends on the venue, Wright said.
Many quarterly journals are so booked up that an article may not get published for a year, he said. On top of that, there's a rigorous review process that ensures a high level of quality.
"I had a recent conversation with a very smart field-grade officer, who was maybe 32 or 33 years old. He expressed a lot of angst that the Army can't publish his article in three or four weeks. He wants it out now," Wright said. "He's from a younger generation. They're used to quickly publishing something on the web."
Wright said Army Press is working on getting things published more quickly, "but we don't want to shortchange the review process," he added.
Since APO stood up, that venue can get something published much sooner, particularly for a short manuscript like something that's a page long, Wright said. That really has opened the window of opportunity for Soldiers to get short pieces out quickly.
Army Press has only been around for a few months, so it's a bit early to measure results, Wright said, adding that he hopes the benefits of going through Army Press will spread by word of mouth from satisfied writers and readers.
"If you measure [success] by [manuscripts] coming in, it's definitely on the increase," he said. "It's not exploding, but that's okay; the whole idea behind Army Press is to provide a more active place for Soldiers to go who want to publish.
"We want Soldiers to add to the professional discourse, the professional discussion. We do that through writing."