Monday, February 28, 2011

What Is an Acquisitions Editor?

If you're at all interested in authoring a book of any kind, whether it's a textbook, collection of short stories, or the greatest novel ever written, you'll end up working with an acquisitions editor, sometimes called a sponsoring editor. Here's a quick rundown on what acquisitions editors (AEs) in healthcare publishing do.

Find 'n' sign

AEs essentially "find and sign" authors. They try to find the right author for the right book at the right time for the right market and in the right format (the 5 Rights in publishing).

Beyond the 5 Rights of publishing, AEs are also responsible for guiding the overall vision for a book and making sure that once the vision is clear and mutually agreed to by the author, the vision is followed throughout the entire publishing process.

AEs are responsible for knowing all about their assigned markets, including what they are, how they work, what kinds of products they need, and how they'll respond to the products we create. AEs build the company's publishing plan for each market. A publishing plan explains explain in detail what the market is and how the company should address it for optimal results.

Most AEs I know visit schools and attend conferences throughout the year in their disciplines, meeting people and learning about trends, curricula, books in use, and many other matters. They base decisions about which publishing projects to pursue and which to let go partly on that knowledge.

The AE is, in effect, the captain of a ship. Authors supply the cargo for that ship, and the captain guides the ship through the many possible hazards at "sea."

Essential duties

  • Develop with the author an overarching vision for the product

  • Oversee the author's creation of a proposal, table of contents, and sample chapters

  • Manage the proposal review process

  • Guide the author in revising the proposal to most effectively meet market needs

  • Champion the author's proposal to the decision-making body

  • Work through contractual issues between the company and author

  • Guide the development of the book from the time the proposal is approved until the book publishes

  • Support the marketing department to prepare relevant promotional materials

  • Support the sales department in their efforts to gain sales

  • Plan revisions of existing books
Oh, and just so you know…You needn't say, "Aye-aye," to the captain.

"Your Royal Highness" will do just fine.