6 Textbook proposal writing tips

Six textbook authors share their textbook proposal writing tips:

“Make sure there is a demand for your book that currently is not being met by exisiting texts.”

David J. Ellenbogen, author of Elementary Algebra: Concepts and Applications

“Beware of putting anything in writing too early, since some editors will take your preliminary ideas to be definite proposals. When you do write the proposal, assume it will be your last chance to convince an editor to take an interest in the project. Also keep in mind that no matter how convinced you are that your book will be the best in the field, you have to make that clear to the editor, and you also have to explain to the editor how that is going to be clear to potential adopters.”

Q&A: Is it acceptable to submit your proposal to multiple publishers?

Q: “When seeking a new publisher, do I only talk to one acquisitions editor at a time (wait for them to send my materials out for review and either other a contract or not) before sending material out to any other editor, or is it acceptable to send materials out to 2 or 3 at once?”

A: Richard Hull, Former TAA Executive Director:

“Self interest indicates you should send the proposal out to as many publishers as you can, trying to maximize your chances of getting an acceptance. But this may lead to other moral dilemmas: what if you get an early response, accept the offer, and just as you are about to close the deal you get another, better offer?

Q&A: How to write a stellar book proposal and get published

Q: “A publisher has expressed interest in my ideas for a book, and has asked for a proposal. What goes into a good proposal?”

A: Michael Lennie, Authoring Attorney and Literary Agent, Lennie Literary and Authors’ Attorneys:

“A proposal should be as good as or better than the book itself because publishers sign non-fiction books based on the proposal and one or two sample chapters, not based on the completed book itself. Do not short change yourself by slapping together a generalized proposal. Read the book(s) and relevant articles, and do your best work!”