Talking with editor at academic press; what to expect/ask
May 28, 2018 4:14 PM   Subscribe

An editor from a well-respected academic press liked the conference abstract of a paper a colleague and I wrote, and approached us to discuss book possibilities—our topic would make a good companion piece to a successful book that they’ve already published. I’ll be meeting with her tomorrow (my coauthor can’t be there so it’s just me). What should I expect? What should I ask?

I teach at a community college and do research for my own interest and professional development. The focus is on teaching and there is zero expectation of publication from my employer, so this would be solely for my own interest (I know not to expect to make money, also!). My colleague is in a similar position. We are both passionate about the topic, which has policy implications that could improve the lives of marginalized learners. I have written academic papers and a thesis but never a book.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
That's great news!

Depending on how the conversation goes, you should have a quick explanation of your proposed book's key arguments and their significance for both scholarship and, in your instance, concrete policy.

Check the publisher's website, which should have book proposal guidelines. Usually, a proposal asks for some combination of a) what the heck is this about and why is it important, b) what is the book's place in the field (who is the competition? Are there similar books out there, and if so, how is yours different?), and c) the market (who will buy it? Can it be assigned in classes?), plus other sections that vary from publisher to publisher (a proposed table of contents is standard). You may be asked to suggest referees. The website may also explain if you're expected to submit camera-ready copy.

Is the other book part of a series?

What sort of timeline does the publisher envision for submitting the proposal and the final manuscript?

Does the publisher want a manuscript of a particular length?

In what formats might the book appear? (Hardback, paperback, ebook...)

If you expect to include illustrations or texts that require permissions, ask about the publisher's policies. Most publishers will expect you to pay for them yourself, although you may be able to get a deal, depending (for example, if you want to use something in the publisher's own catalog).
posted by thomas j wise at 4:42 PM on May 28, 2018

You might also want to skim the Chronicle of Higher Education fora, especially on publishing/research, for other academic-press-specific advice. Congrats and good luck!
posted by TwoStride at 7:26 PM on May 28, 2018

Hi! In a similar conversation, I was super nervous but it was all pretty much what you would expect. I was asked to simply talk more about the argument, where I was in the manuscript process, and my interventions / place in the market. But after that, the bulk of the conversation was more nuts and bolts-- what would you need when, did she have any tips for the proposal process, what the review process is like, accessibility options for the final product (publishing in soft and hardcover at the same time, for example), etc. Congrats!
posted by athirstforsalt at 8:57 PM on May 28, 2018

Thank you so much everyone! This is all very helpful. I'm excited for sure, but also since this just fell out of the blue, had little idea of what to expect other than probably needing to explain what the heck our paper is about and how we would expand it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:33 PM on May 28, 2018

So to update: it went well! She asked me to talk for a bit about my ideas, then explained why she had been so interested and how she saw it fitting in with current themes in education, and then offered me a book deal. I'm still a bit shocked, to be honest! I asked her about timelines and other practical stuff suggested here by folks, and told her I'd think about it and get back to her, which she seemed cool with.

So...I guess now I have to think about it and decide what I want to do!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:42 PM on May 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

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