Getting to first base: How to pitch your textbook idea to publishers

You have a great idea. You know your book is needed. As you pick your way through the prospectus (or guidelines for authors), here are some thoughts about what editors are really looking for, the core messages to keep bringing home:

You know this market. Editors tell me that their number one question as they read a proposal is: ” Do we need this book”? To convince them, be familiar with every comparable text. Then, if possible, do your own informal survey to concretely make your case: “My colleagues at X, Y, Z university have been yearning for a book with this orientation.” “The existing texts do not fully capture the new trends (be specific) in my field.” ” Based on my intimate knowledge of our students my book will be ideal because it does A, B and C.” Inflated self-serving phrases such as this book is “utterly unique” or ” for all undergraduates” are total turn offs— signs of an author who doesn’t know the market, or, worse yet, is planning a text that is too weird ( won’t sell).