written by: Mimi Benjamin & Jody Jessup-Anger – ACPA Books Co-editors
If you’re thinking about a book project, a great resource about the various ins and outs of publishing a book is available from Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning. Jessie Moore and Jennie Goforth have created a series of “Publishing SoTL” blog posts (Publishing SoTL Archives – Center for Engaged Learning) that cover such topics as making a case for your book, editing collections, and marketing your book. While their blog focuses primarily on publishing Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) work, their tips are applicable to projects that might come forward through ACPA Books. For example, Moore (2022a) emphasized the importance of situating your work within the scholarship of your book’s focus. She stated, “When you can convincingly demonstrate that you understand the scholarly conversation you’re entering, it’s also easier to answer the ‘So what?’ question about your work. Why does your work matter in the context of this broader scholarly inquiry? What are you adding that moves the conversation forward, tests prior assumptions, or adds a previously hidden perspective?” (para. 3).
Often those who seek to publish with ACPA Books are compiling excellent work from a variety of authors in an edited collection. Moore (2022b) recommends inviting chapter proposals that include a 1-2 page proposal as well as a brief abstract so that you, as the editor, don’t need to spend extra time summarizing all the chapter proposals in the form of individual abstracts. She also commented on the common request of a sample chapter, “Many publishers request sample chapters as part of the proposal process. Think carefully about what you’ll share. Could you draft the introduction? Is there a chapter you’ll write that you could draft now? Could an established colleague contribute a chapter that they would be able to revise for another venue if the proposal doesn’t lead to a book contract?” (para. 10) Consider the time and effort required of someone contributing a sample chapter and think about how the work might be otherwise useful for the individual if the book proposal does not yield a contract. When the proposal does result in a contract, your work as the editor of the book will include keeping the project on track. Sometimes, as Moore (2022) noted, this requires difficult decisions, “If chapter authors aren’t able to meet deadlines or haven’t been able to revise a draft sufficiently to address feedback, you might have to make the difficult decision to cut their chapters” (para. 13). Because of this difficult role, we always recommend that editors are clear with authors at the beginning of the project about the possibility that a chapter may be cut.
Once the book is completed, Stylus and ACPA will work on getting the word out about your publication. But you have a role in this process as well, and Goforth (2021) identified some important questions to consider, such as where your book’s audience gets their news and what social media platforms they utilize. She also noted, “Your colleagues, your friends, your old college roommate—you have a lifetime of acquaintances who you now need to (strategically) notify about your book. Not only should you notify them, but you should also encourage them to help you promote your book by sharing it widely. This kind of self-promotion can feel awkward but think of it instead as sharing useful work with people who may really appreciate hearing about it.” (para. 5) Goforth also suggested promotion ideas such as sending an announcement to relevant listservs and adding the book to your e-signature.
We encourage you to review this blog series to get even more great ideas and information about publishing books. And as always, we welcome your questions and are happy to meet with individuals and teams who have ideas about potential ACPA Books projects.
Goforth, J. (2021, September 16). Academic publishing: Promoting your book. Center for Engaged Learning (blog), Elon University. http://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/academic-publishing-promoting-your-book.
Moore, J. L. (2022a, April 12). Academic book publishing: Making a case for your proposed book. Center for Engaged Learning (blog), Elon University. https://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/academic-book-publishing-making-a-case-for-your-proposed-book.
Moore, J. L. (2022b, February 15). Academic book publishing: Editing collections.” Center for Engaged Learning (blog), Elon University. https://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/academic-book-publishing-editing-collections.