Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Behind the Scenes: Preparations for Proposing a New Book

When a potential author prepares a proposal for a new textbook, my work begins. Here's an admittedly incomplete list of the main tasks acquisitions folks like me need to complete before we can bring a formal book proposal to a decision making body.

  • Work with author to refine proposal, table of contents, sample chapters, and such

  • Create survey to gain feedback on project

  • Find and assign reviewers to complete the survey

  • Compile survey feedback and review with author


  • Request production estimate, which lists the various costs of each component of the book. To do that, I need to provide these estimates and other data:


    • Title and subtitle

    • Trim size

    • Number of book pages

    • Type of cover and binding

    • Number of colors for cover and interior (black-and-white interior is 1-color, black; black and, say, magenta interior is 2-color; what you call full color is 4-color to us, the colors being cyan [blue], magenta, yellow, and black)

    • Number of photos and how they will be supplied (film, hard copy, or electronic)

    • Number and approximate complexity of illustrations (for instance, 100 illustrations: 60% complex, 20% moderately complex, 20% simple)

    • Anticipated manuscript submission date

    • Anticipated publication date

    • Price and other business model considerations

    • Anticipated total fees for developmental editor


    • Ancillaries to be offered, such as:


      • PowerPoints, including number of slides and images to be inserted

      • Test bank including number of test items

      • Instructor's guide, including number of pages and images to be inserted

      • Interactive software

      • Online resources

      • Image bank including number of images

      • Flash cards, including format (print, electronic on CD-ROM, electronic online), total number, and number of illustrations, if any

      • Accompanying workbook (which actually gets its own proposal and financials)



    • Estimated cost of building ancillaries




  • Complete what we call here a gross profit estimate, or GPE, for which I need to supply the following:


    • Expected unit sales over life of title (LOT) for each market (MA, PA, NP, etc)

    • Expected unit sales for first year

    • Average discount for distributors and retailers

    • Number of complimentary copies needed to properly market the book




  • Prepare formal proposal document, including:


    • Overview of the product and ancillaries

    • Why the proposed author is the right person to write the right book at the right time for the right market

    • Summary of reviewer feedback

    • Royalty rate, amount of author grant, and other author-related financial information


    • Full competitive summary, including:


      • Title, author, edition number, publisher, copyright year, ISBN, page count, price, and so forth

      • Ancillaries available

      • Strengths

      • Weaknesses



    • Market analysis

    • Any other information we believe will help the decision making body, in my case the Editorial Board, determine whether to publish a book




Whew, no wonder I'm always behind!