Forming a publisher relationship: The acquisitions editor

For aspiring higher education authors and content writers, one of the first goals is to connect with a publisher. The next step is to leverage that connection into an immediate contract offer or build a working relationship that will one day result in a contract.

In this first installment of a three-part series, I’ll provide some insights about acquisitions editors. The acquisitions editor is the gatekeeper to forming a productive publisher relationship, so it’s particularly useful for authors to understand who acquisitions editors are and what typically motivates them.

Let’s start with a brief overview of the acquisitions editor’s role, key responsibilities, and performance metrics. Then I’ll cover how authors can leverage this knowledge in building a relationship with a publisher.

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An inside look at peer review

Academic presses invest a lot of effort in the peer review process. While most academics understand the process — either from personal experience or tales shared at conferences — less understood is how editors and publishers view peer review.

“The primary reason for peer reviewing manuscripts is to reinforce the publisher’s reputation as serious and professional,” said Jessica Gribble, an acquisitions editor at Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Individual editors also value peer review, she said: “We can’t be experts in every subject we acquire, so we rely on reviews to help us know whether the content of the manuscript is high quality.” Another goal of the peer review process is to confirm what the press believes to be the market for the book. “We’re getting both a content analysis and a market analysis,” said Gribble.