How can you find the right publisher for your academic book’s content area?
In this four-part series, I show you how to do just that.
In the last post, I showed you how and why you need to see your book again—not as the content expert you are, but rather as a university press will.
Armed with this knowledge, you will now identify the longest list of possible presses for your discipline and content area.
Before you start your research, though, you should put together a document to capture important information about each press, including:
- recent, important books they’ve published
- authors you know who have published with them recently
- whether they have a series in which your book will fit
- practical information about their press’s specific proposal requirements
- the relevant acquisitions editor’s name and contact information
You will be grateful to have all this information in one place when it comes time to prepare your proposals.
Making Your Long List of Academic Publishers
In this activity, you will start with the broadest possible list (all of the presses that publish in your subject area(s), according to the AUP), and progressively narrow your focus. Each time you identify a possible publisher, create a new “Press Information Sheet” (or fill out the downloadable one) for it.
Ideally, as you narrow your focus, you will start to notice the same publishers appear multiple times. When this happens, be sure to note this information in either the “preliminary notes” or “Recent important books” section of the “Press Information Sheet,” as appropriate.
Step 1: Consult The AUP Subject Grid
Every year the Association of University Presses publishes a table reporting which university presses publish in which subject areas and disciplines. Consult the AUP Subject Grid, and create a “Press Information Sheet” for each publisher you find. Don’t worry—you will start to narrow your focus soon! This step helps you identify the longest possible list of publishers.
Step 2: Scan Your Bookshelf & Bibliography
Many of the books on your bookshelf and all of the books in your bibliography are in conversation with your book in some way. So, the same presses that published those books might be interested in publishing yours, as well.
One caveat: presses can change direction. And editors do leave presses. So, in this step, you should identify monographs (not edited volumes) on your bookshelf and in your bibliography published in the last 5-7 years.
Create new “Press Information Sheets” for any new presses you identify. Add the books’ titles and authors to the “recent important books” row.
Step 3: Return to Your “Mini Competing Works”
The final step in narrowing our scope is returning to the works with which your book is in closest conversation.
Return to the “mini competing works” you completed in the last activity. Look up their publishers and create new “Press Information Sheets” for them, if you do not have ones for them already. As above, add the books titles’ and authors to the “recent important books” row.
Additional Resources to Go Deeper on This Work
- Chapter 4 of William Germano’s Getting it Published (ebook)
- My standalone course on identifying your book’s audience and finding a publisher.
At this point, you might feel slightly overwhelmed or like you have less of an idea about finding the right publisher now than you did when you started!
If there are a few presses that keep popping up, your list is probably narrower than it feels.
And the next step will be exactly what you need: researching the presses more thoroughly so that you can eliminate the ones for which your book is not a good fit. (You certainly don’t want to waste time preparing and tailoring proposals if your book has no chance of being considered!)
Humanities First Book Author Inner Circle
Writing your first academic book in a humanities or qualitative social science discipline? Wondering how to manage such a large project? You don't have to struggle alone! Sign up, and I'll send you resources and advice to help you get a handle on your manuscript, find the best publisher, and develop productivity habits to get the book done.