Chapter 1: So You Want to Write a Book?
If you have ever thought, even half seriously, that you would like to write a practical book about computers or computer software, then you probably can. Moreover, given the proper editorial and publishing support, you can probably write a successful book. It’s all a matter of doing the right things in the right order. And it helps a great deal if you have a publisher willing to do everything in its power to help you along. That is how we at Ed2592 Press understand our job.
The first thing that must happen, however, is for us to hear from you–your wild and crazy idea, or your carefully analyzed proposal. We may tell you that what you want to do is indeed crazy, or that your detailed analysis is off the mark. But then again, we may say, “Let’s see what we can make of this thing.” In which case, together we are off and running.
Overview of the Publication Process
But first things first. Here’s an overview of the publication process, from beginning to end:
You send an email query to [email protected], asking if we’re interested in a book on such and such a topic. Your query need not be a full proposal, but it should give enough of a sense of the book you want to write and your relevant skills and experience that we’ll be intrigued enough to ask for a full proposal. Before sending a query, you should review our catalog or website to be sure that we don’t already have a book on the topic you propose. If we do, but you think you have a new angle on an old topic, be sure to explain why your approach will be unique and valuable. Be sure to include the topic in the subject line. We hate queries and proposals labeled simply “Book Proposal.”
We let you know whether or not we’re interested in seeing a full proposal. Be warned that this may take a few weeks. We get thousands of unsolicited queries and proposals a year, and sometimes they get backed up. We’d like to be able to get back to you in a few days, but sometimes it takes quite a bit longer.
You submit a book proposal to us. Your proposal should contain an outline of the book, a discussion of who will buy the book and why, an analysis of any competing books showing why yours fills a real need in the market, and a tentative schedule. If you have not previously published a book, we would also like to receive a writing sample from you, though in some cases the proposal itself will serve as an adequate sample. For more information on what constitutes a good proposal, see Chapter Two of this document.
We consider your proposal, and perhaps talk it over with others who understand your topic. At this point, we might reach a simple decision, or else we might enter into a series of exchanges with you, asking for further information, seeking your opinion about problematic aspects of the book, inviting your response to criticisms, and so on. Eventually, this all leads to a go/no-go decision.
Having decided to run with the book, we sit down together with you and work out a contract. This might involve payment of an advance against royalties, and also places certain schedule constraints upon both of us. We like to think of ourselves as more flexible than other publishers–able to to accommodate the peculiar needs and conditions of a particular author or project. We always look forward to sitting down with you and “working it out.” That being said, we want authors who are committed to getting the book out as planned. Some topics are more time-critical than others, and in some cases, missing the schedule will make the book unpublishable.
You are now ready to begin writing. You will probably use Microsoft Word, FrameMaker, or XML, although we can work with manuscripts in certain other formats as well. (Internally, we convert most books to FrameMaker before publication.) See Chapter Two for details on the accepted formats and for infomation on getting the appropriate templates from us. A particular editor will have been assigned to your book, and as you complete the first draft of each chapter, you forward it to your editor. He or she in turn will, as needed, provide editorial guidance, and you will be expected to revise the chapters you submit until the editor agrees that they are acceptable. In some cases, if the individual chapters you submit appear to be exceptionally well written, the primary editorial work may wait until the first draft of the entire manuscript is completed.
We then subject your book to a thorough editorial and technical review, calling upon experts in the field, as well as our own staff. In many cases, we may begin the technical review on a chapter-by-chapter basis before the first draft is complete; in other cases, we may wait for a complete draft before sending it out for review. It is then your responsibility to revise the book in accordance with the critical commentary you receive. There is much room here for some back-and-forth discussion, and many ways in which we can be of assistance.
When you have completed your revision, the book goes back to the editor. There may be some further, more rapid iterations of the edit/revision process now, but the hope is that we will soon have a book ready to go into production.
Our production and design people prepare the book for printing. This includes converting the material to its final format, putting it in the appropriate interior design, bringing the text and graphics together, final copy editing, and proofreading. You will have an opportunity to review the book before we send it to press.
Meanwhile, our marketing people have been getting out the word about an exciting new title. They will have contacted you early in the development process and asked you to fill out an author questionnaire, which asks you not only for information about you and your book, but also for your ideas about how and to whom we ought to market it. Now you will see the fruits of that dialog. There will be notice in our own catalogs and newsletters, together with reviews in trade journals and many other forms of advertisement. We may ask you to write articles promoting your book on our website, attend or even speak at trade shows or conferences, and participate in other promotional activities. Your willingness and ability to do these things can be an important factor in the success of your book.
All that remains, we fervently hope, is a long and successful sales run for your book! This sales run will be punctuated, most likely, by periodic revisions that will keep it at the forefront of current technology. If you are documenting a fast-moving technology, you might want to start planning immediately for how you will keep the book up to date.
What We Don’t Know
We know there are topics out there that, in spite of our editors' best efforts, some of you will know about before we do. Let us know what interests you, and why. Surprise us; we’re insatiably curious about interesting new technologies.