Saturday / June 22

So…You Want to Publish a Book?

publishing a book

With over 30 years in book publishing, people often ask me how they can get their latest manuscript published. The subjects range from making healthy school lunches or their new mystery about dog detectives. “How do I get published?” is not an easy question to answer, and often comes with a range of answers. What people may not realize is that there are many different types of publishers who cater to a wide range of audiences and needs.

The types of publishing I know best are Professional Development and College Publishing.

First and foremost, identify your audience. Who will want to read your book? If you think practicing educators will be interested, specify which ones and at what level. If you enjoy learning and citing academic research and developing an organization that fits a college course, then the world of college publishing may be the right one. Keep in mind, however, that higher education success requires that books fit a specific course such as Educational Psychology or Reading Methods, which are taught with some regularity, so make sure that your ideas fits a course structure.

The second major question, and the one you need to spend time reflecting on, is WHY will anyone read your book? Who will care? Potential readers need a compelling reason that will entice them to pick up and read your book. As the author, how will you make that happen? Sometimes we call that the “hook.”

The “hook” may be the title and some unique titles are enough to get attention. On the other hand, many cute, quirky, or witty titles don’t really move the needle.

It is critical that any author be able to describe their work in two to three brief sentences that highlight the approach, usefulness, and unique take.

Suggesting that the book will be written better, or that you have more experience than other authors, does not work. Let your audience determine that. Suggesting the specific steps you will provide to make their professional lives easier or more productive: now that will carry some weight.

Things to Consider:

    • Know Your Audience
    • Identify a clear and compelling reason for readers to care
    • Think hard about your “working” title

Written by

Arnis Burvikovs, Executive Editor at Corwin Press, has worked in publishing for over 30 years in sales, marketing, and editorial positions. Arnis has had the great fortune of working with numerous bestselling authors at Corwin and, previously, at Allyn and Bacon. The one major lesson he has learned is, as Twain noted, “A big book is a big nuisance.”

Latest comments

  • Arnis;
    Thanks so much for launching this blog. Your advice provides clear guidance and encouragement for aspiring authors.

    Is the brief description of the book you have described the same as catalogue copy? Does Corwin consider only full proposals along with sample chapters or are they interested in hearing about a seed idea early in the development process?

    I look forward to future posts and participant comments.

    • The brief description can be used in catalog copy and should help to sell the unique aspects of the book. However, keep in mind your first audience here is the editor and Corwin staff so you need to also highlight things sales copy would not such as evidence of success, your expertise, implementation steps, etc.
      Corwin editorial staff will work with you to help shape your ideas for a proposal. Ultimately, we will need a proposal and 2 sample chapters (normally) that would be peer reviewed.

  • Thanks for reading the piece, everyone. I have been thinking about a follow up/next step so this is encouraging!

  • Very impressive! You can trust that I will pass on this information and even use it myself! Thanks to all at Corwin for always going above and beyond to keep all of us in the loop.

  • Thanks for a simple answer to a complex question! I’ll be sharing this with lots of “budding authors.” And, Arnis, thanks for always going out of your way to talk with people I send in your direction. You are ‘da bomb!

  • Arnie,
    This was really great information to offer people who are interested in getting published. Like Kelley, I plan on sharing this will friends and colleagues who want to write a book that will expand the knowledge of the field.

  • I have had many friends ask me this question- I’ll forward on your post to them!

  • I look forward to sharing this with fellow educators who have been asking this question. Thanks Arnie.

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