Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3 Keys to Getting Your Textbook Proposal Read for Real

You have an idea for a textbook or clinical resource. Your book could be the next best thing to squeeze-bottle ketchup. It could make you and the publisher very happy. Wonderful!

But if the editor doesn't read your proposal, your book, your baby, your crowning glory might never see the printed page.

Never fear. Here are three keys to make sure the editor reads and truly considers your proposal.
  1. Find the right editor. Sounds like a no-brainer, but it isn't. A publishing company might have 10, 20, even 30 or more editors signing titles in various disciplines. Figuring out which editor is right for your book might prove confusing.

    To find the right editor, go first to the publisher's website and look for an author's area. (For a list of author areas for the major healthcare textbook publishers, check my blog post at

    Look for a list of editorial contacts, and then identify the editor handling the discipline that most closely resembles the discipline you'll be writing for.

    Alternately, you can find a book similar to yours and published by the same company, and then check the masthead for the editor's name. Look for Publisher, Sponsoring, or Acquisitions in the person's title.

  2. Write a compelling proposal lead. Put your best effort into the lead of the proposal. That's where you'll keep or lose the editor's attention. In that lead, tell the editor:
  • Which markets the book is designed for. Be specific. Rather than "The book will appeal to medical assistant programs," write "The book will appeal to medical assistant programs that offer introductory courses in medical billing and reimbursement."

  • Why your approach to the content is superior. Again, be specific.

  • Why you're the right one to write the book. Toot your horn in specific ways. Rather than "I just love this topic," write "My background as a lab tech and 8 years of teaching clinical medical assisting give me an edge."
  1. Make the proposal error-free. This is must. If the editor finds one spelling error, well, okay. But two? Three? More? Forget it. You need correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization—everything. Show the editor that you're a writer.
When I see a proposal from someone who gets all three keys dead-on, oh, I'm reading that proposal.