I noticed this rant, over at John Hawks' blog, about the difficulties in getting articles published in edited volumes. It prompted a rant of my own about the annoyances of being an editor of, and author in, edited volumes. Edited volumes take too much time to publish. I still have a very important article (to me) tied up in an edited volume, one of the first over-view articles of my on-going research project. The conference that forms the basis for the volume took place when my daughter (Little Boo) was seven weeks old. She started preschool yesterday, in the 4-year old class. In the time since that conference took place, I have held three different jobs, including finally landing a tenure-track position, produced another child (Boo too), and an edited volume of my own. For various personal and political reasons, it would be extremely hard to pull the article. So I wait.
The other problem with edited volumes is they take a huge amount of time for the editor, who isn't paid. Yes, I know that editing a journal also takes a huge amount of time, but often there is some kind of compensation, such as a teaching reduction. The editorship of a journal also brings with it significant professional exposure, etc. And, frankly, journals are usually edited by senior professors who may have better things to do with their lives, but aren't trying to get tenure and raise two kids under 4 while teaching 20 credits a year.
Don't get me wrong, I really am thrilled with my edited volume. I love the articles and I think it is a great book. I learned a lot in the process. But there are some serious downsides to editing or publishing in an edited volume. Journal publications are both easier and get you greater exposure.