You can and should ship for feedback. But you also can and should ship for distribution.
Shipping for Distribution
The other way to ship a project is to ship it for distribution. This is “firm shipping” where you’re committing to a particular form of your research that you’re wanting to get to your who.
It’s the kind of shipping you do when you’ve done your due diligence and you’re ready to call the project finished.
Where you ship to for distribution will depend on who you’re trying to reach. Your who might listen to podcasts, attend live talks, read journal articles, or work through monographs.
In each case, you’re going to ship for distribution to the folks who can help you get your research into those different channels, be they podcasters, conference organizers, editorial boards, or acquisition editors.
… and for Feedback
That said, the best shipping for distribution still entails shipping for feedback.
You might not feel the same level of tentativeness you do in shipping your project for feedback.
But whatever you ship isn’t going to be the last word on your topic. So, it’s best to recognize that up front.
Even when your work is “done,” even when you’re shipping for distribution, you’re still able to learn. And your best shipping for distribution will be shipping that’s open to other’s responses, whether positive or negative. It’s a shipping that stays teachable.
This kind of shipping for distribution is hugely advantageous. By contrast, if you ship for distribution without openness and teachability, you’re setting yourself up for a bumpy ride.
The whole point of shipping is that it’s the one thing you can do to test whether your research is, in fact, publishable.
And in that test, the outcome isn’t predetermined. The answer might be “yes,” or it might be “no.”
The “yes” is definitely nicer to hear. But if you’re not open to the value you and your research gets from the reasons for a “no,” you’ll seriously limit where you can find a “yes.”
On the other hand, if you’re shipping for feedback even when you’re shipping for distribution, you’re open to that sort of value. You’re open to continuing to improve your work so that it’s more likely to get a “yes” the next time around.2
For discussion of how to turn a “no” to your advantage, see Stanley E. Porter, Inking the Deal: A Guide for Successful Academic Publishing (affiliate disclosure; Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010), 89–102. ↩