Book idea? Now what?

Categories: Academic Writing Month, Focus Series, MethodSpace Live!, Other, Webinars, Writing and Editing


Using the tag #AcWriMo, writers around the world discuss their goals and progress, and share resources throughout November.  Find the evolving series here. If you log into MethodSpace, you will be subscribed and receive new posts by email.

A book concept is a start.

You have an idea for a book. It is brilliant! It is unique! It will change the world! Now what? As Thoreau observed, your dreams need practical foundations.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau

You’ll need some specific foundations before you can discuss your ideas with an acquisitions editor, and before you begin a book proposal. Let’s start with a few questions:

What is the basis for your book? Original research or theorization? Or will you draw from professional experiences, your own observations? How will you develop this content into a book? What type of book? What publisher(s) offers books of this kind?

Have others covered your topic, if so, how? What will distinguish your book from others on the market?

Change the world?
Who cares? Who is interested in your topic, and the type of book you want to write? Academics and students, professionals, practitioners, or the general public? Readers within a specific field or discipline, or across disciplines? What publisher(s) markets to your target audience?

Do some research on your topic and related books.

Here are a few preliminary steps:

  • Peruse publisher’s websites and bookstores. Make a list of books on similar topics, as well as successful books aimed at your target audience.
  • Look on Google preview, find them in a library, and/or download sample chapters. Look at the table of contents, writing style, and book features. Compare and contrast existing books with your concept.
  • Identify a need existing books missed, and that your book can fill.
  • Make a list of publishers represented in your list of competing books. Look on their websites for information and guidelines for authors. What is their first step? Note that some publishers want you to speak with an acquisitions editor before submitting anything, while others want a preliminary proposal, full proposal, and/or chapters.
  • Attend the Write a Book! From Acquisition to Publication webinar with two SAGE editors. 

The November webinar, Write a Book! From Acquisition to Publication will feature two SAGE editors, Leah Fargotstein and Eric Garner. Leah Fargotstein is an acquisitions editor. Eric Garner is SAGE’s managing editor of US books production. I will moderate, drawing on my experience publishing books with SAGE and several other publishers. I will pose questions and make observations from the writer’s perspective. Together, we will explain how each step of the process works and discuss best practices for authors. All are welcome, so tell your colleagues and students. Registration is open now! Join us November 14, at the time in your zone.

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