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5 Tips for Starting the Book You Always Meant To Write

By: , Posted on: August 7, 2015

chemistry AEsAs editors, we often hear, “I’ve always wanted to write a book” or even, “I never thought about it before, but there ought to be a book about…”. Here in Science & Technology Books, we are always excited to work on resources that offer something really useful to researchers and academics in the field—and we know getting started can be the toughest part.

The work involved can be daunting. The publishing process can seem mysterious. A great idea can rattle around in your brain for ages, and never quite make it to paper while you’re busy with other projects. But it can be a great deal simpler than you might think to get started, and make a valuable contribution to the available literature.

When you are in a position to write or edit a book or short series in an exciting research area, or even if it’s something you have in mind for the future, there are a few easy steps you can take to get things going:

1) Jot it Down

It seems obvious, but the book you never start will never get written. As a first step, put pen to paper: Write a brief description or outline of the book. This helps the idea come together and gives you a chance to really think about what the table of contents might include and consider what the scope of such a project would entail. Writing the idea down helps solidify the concept, gives you a place to brainstorm chapter topics, and makes the project real. It also provides you with something more detailed to have in hand, to explore the possibility further with publishers and colleagues.

2) Talk to an Editor

Book editors love books. We get very excited about book ideas, especially when we see the market need for high quality content in an important or fast-growing research area. We can help talk you through the process (from proposal to royalties to marketing); assess and gather useful feedback for your possible project; and ultimately, work with our team to support your manuscript development. We can explain what sorts of projects we’re looking for—from very short works to compendiums. Just as writing down a rough overview of the book can help make the idea come together, so too does working with an editor help the concept coalesce, and moves things forward.

3) Talk to Colleagues

Time is one of the biggest blocks for writing a needed book. Fitting writing into an already busy schedule can seem impossible, but if you consider the project in smaller ‘chunks’, it suddenly becomes much more realistic. Bringing in trusted colleagues to co-author the work or contribute chapters can help share the workload—and bring additional enthusiasm, perspective, and accountability (!) to the project.

writing process

4) Familiarize Yourself with the Book Process

Again, this process is much simpler and straightforward than you likely imagine, and there are professionals set-up to help you every step of the way. A books editor can help explain the process beginning from formal approval, to writing, through production, publication in print and electronic formats, and beyond—and will be there throughout to supervise and advocate for your project.

5) Get Started!

Remember that rough book description? That is the beginning of a proposal, the information needed to submit the book to a publisher for formal consideration. Your editor can provide a template and work with you to expand and refine that draft to prepare a formal prospectus, considering technical details of the book including content, length, and schedule. Once reviewed and polished, your editor can put forth your proposal for internal approval, and help you make the idea a reality!

Excited to get started? Curious to learn more?

Meet with Chemistry editors Katy Morrissey and Katey Birtcher (“the Katies”) at ACS Boston 2015. Email us to set up time to connect, or attend the Book Publishing workshop on Wednesday, August 19 at 12:30p in room 102a.

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