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Can I help you in any way? Publishing strategies (part 1)

Can I help you in any way? Publishing strategies (part 1)“Hello, thank you for visiting. Can I help you in any way?” If you’ve browsed our TAA website, you’ve likely seen those words in the chat box that appears on the screen. We’re often asked by visitors if we’re “real”. Then those who realize that we are, and that we are there to help, ask questions that you may have as well.

In this series of “Can I help you in any way?” posts, we’re highlighting some of the questions people have asked through the TAA Live Chat feature of our site and the responses we have for those questions. In this post, we’re focused on questions about publishing strategies.

As I was preparing this post in the series, I realized that many of the questions we receive fall under the category of “publishing strategies.” As a result, we will cover this topic in two parts with this post focused specifically the process of finding a publisher and submitting a book proposal.

Even within the focus of this article, there are numerous questions. While many visitors are seeking information on where to submit (which we’ll explore in a moment), one visitor came seeking “resources on proposal writing.” I offered the following articles from our blog in response:

Other visitors came to the chat seeking information on how to pitch a textbook proposal to a publisher. One stated, “if you have any suggestions about paths to take, I would be interested in hearing from you. I am entirely green about publishing, so I am just starting to do the research on the process.”  

To this common inquiry, my de facto response is that successful proposals to publishers begin with relationship building. Specifically, I offered the following advice to this visitor:

“From the textbook publishing perspective, the best thing is to build a relationship with the publisher. This can be started through the local sales rep at your school, but should eventually lead to speaking with an acquisitions editor to move forward with pitching the idea. Often showing interest in writing supplements for existing textbooks, such as test banks, PowerPoint presentations, etc. can be an avenue to get to know the editors, build a relationship, and demonstrate your ability to write and meet deadlines.”

For another visitor seeking additional details on the actual submission of proposals, I provided the following resources:

Still other visitors are interested, not so much in how to submit a proposal, but where to submit their book for consideration. One visitor was considering changing publishers for a new version of a textbook and asked for advice on what publishers they should submit to.

My response was two-fold: “I would suggest starting with the publishers of books used in the classroom – especially those who the faculty member may have a relationship with the sales team. Other options would be to seek acquisition editor contact information with publishers in the field who seem to have a ‘gap’ that the particular book fits.”  

Another visitor “needing help finding a publisher” for a niche subject area had already reached out to several publishing companies to the consistent response “that the subject is not under consideration now.” For this visitor, I first suggested that they explore some of the larger publishing companies with broader catalogs for the discipline and to identify competitor titles for their proposed manuscript.  

When asked for clarification on what I meant by “competitor titles”, I offered the following:

“When marketing your book to potential schools for adoption, the publisher will be placing it against alternative books that could be used (competitor titles) and trying to justify why yours is the best choice for adoption. Many publishers, especially with specific topics, such as Electromagnetic Field Theory, as opposed to general topics, such as Physics, will not want to compete with another title already in their library, so focusing on publishers who publish in Physics, but not Electromagnetic Field Theory is a good strategy. It will also help when a potential publisher asks what other titles will your book compete with. Publishers who don’t publish in the sciences, won’t usually pick up a Physics title as they aren’t working with the market, but larger companies who are already sending sales reps to Physics departments may need the niche subject matter of your book.”

To close out this discussion on submitting book proposals, I submit one final question from a visitor to the site, “I am an author and am nearly done with my book and was wondering if it’s common to submit it to several publishers?” My response to this, as with many of the responses above focuses on relationships.  

“It is common with books to submit proposals to multiple publishers in an effort to find the right fit for your book. With journal articles, it’s general custom to wait for an acceptance or rejection from a first choice journal before submitting elsewhere. Building publisher relationships is the best way to get conversations started about potential publishing of a book.”

Further, I suggested checking out this article on building rapport and the series that followed.    

If you are considering publisher options for your upcoming book, it’s always good practice to become familiar with the author guidelines before submitting a proposal. TAA has compiled links to many of the Textbook Publishers’ Author Guidelines on our website for your convenience.  

In the next post, we’ll explore some of the other questions related to publishing strategies that have been received.  

Can we help you in other ways? Check out the previous series posts on learning objectivesessay writing, and courses and workshops.


Eric SchmiederEric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.