Textbooks-to-trade shift not always easy

The trade book market can be lucrative, so it’s no wonder some textbook authors have their hands dipped into both pots. But how can a textbook author “cross over” to trade? Most literary agents agree that being academically published gives trade book-author wannabes extra credibility, but the question is, does the textbook author have what it takes to write for the trade book market.

Sheryl Fullerton, a literary agent with Sheryl B. Fullerton Associates, said text and academic author experience is important in trade publications, especially if the author is writing on the same subject, but it doesn’t guarantee ready acceptance among publishers. “A trade book has to look like, smell like, and taste like a trade book; it can’t have the pedagogical trappings or the professional jargon that are common to text and academic titles,” she said. “For most academic authors, shifting to writing for a trade audience is challenging.”