Serious book proposals (XII): the author

By Anthony Haynes

October 16, 2017

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Any book proposal needs to include information about the author. One function of such information is to persuade the publisher that the author has sufficient credentials.

This is best done by including three types of information:

  1. Qualifications. By this I mean anything that shows that the author is indeed qualified to write the book. That includes formal qualification (say, a higher degree in a discipline related to the proposed book), but also ‘qualifications’ more broadly understood: for example, the fact that an author might have been teaching a certain course for a number of years ‘qualifies’ the author in the sense of indicating that s/he is likely to know the subject, understand the requirements of the reader, and perhaps have firsthand knowledge of competing resources.
  2. Publications. A record of publications indicates that (a) the author does actually put pen to paper, rather than just doing do, (b) someone else has judged that the author is worth qualifying, and (c) the author has some knowledge of the publication process. Note that it is not only book publications that count. Authorship of teaching materials, magazine articles, journal papers, and grey literature (such as white papers) all count.
  3. Marketing. If the author is able and willing to play a role in the marketing of the book — for example, by writing guest blog posts or displaying a copy when giving a talk, this too will send a positive message to the publisher considering the proposal.

Note that, when publishers commission a book, they often think of this as commissioning two things simultaneously:

A. the specific product being proposed

B. the author.

If the author looks to have potential to write further books for the author, that increases the attractiveness of the proposition. Maintaining a flow of quality content is one of the main tasks confronting editors, so developing a stable of authors each of whom might produce several books is a desirable goal.

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