Shari Kuchenbecker, Assistant Professor of Psychology
There are three basic steps to publishing: Do a little bit of research (first with the agents), secondarily find the right publishing company (with the help of the agent, since publishing companies have a known history on content they are interested in), then just tell your story.
There is a book called the Writer’s Market, and they publish it every single year, and it includes agents, and it also includes their specializations. I looked at what they recommended to do – and that’s what I did. The number one thing was really picking the agents I sent it to. Make sure to look at their specialties. Agents change. Keep up to date on who is interested in what market. What’s important is finding those agents and publishers that will be interested. Go with the biggest names in agents and publishers that you can.
Ask yourself how your book is unique. You don’t want to write one more book that there are dozens of, and you can do this by blending your unique experience into the material. A very simple concept is necessary. Anticipate where the markets are going. Try to anticipate two or three years ahead. The challenge was translating research-speak into an engaging story that was high quality, research-based information.
When you go to the popular press, they do have editors that know how to help academicians speak and write in a way that the public can understand. Once the editor hears your passion, and engages in your creative process of framing it for the popular press, then you’re on your way. To clean it up, to prune the tree, to create an elegant sort of simple beauty — that’s what a good editor does, and that’s a real gift. Usually, editors pick the projects they want. If you’ve got an editor who really loves what you’re doing, that whole process becomes dynamic.
When submitting your idea to a publisher, send in the titles of the chapters, behind that a resume of what you’ve done, and behind that why your particular book is needed. Random House in particular likes the academic. They have published Zimbardo. The bigger your advance, the better, but I was happy with any advance. Popular press promises a really nice return. They will give you a deadline of when it’s going to be published, and then a pre-publication period of time – had nine months to finish the other thirteen chapters and the research study. There’s a point in the time where they pick the cover and they do no research – the cover makes a huge difference. They wanted me to cut this portion out – maybe it was too controversial. Random House ultimately said okay, you’re right, even if it won’t be distributed by certain organizations. They just want a quality book that teaches quality information. Empathize with the publishers who screen volumes to find things that are engaging at this point in history. Don’t feel entitled. Just because you have a great idea and a great book doesn’t mean you’re going to get published. If you want to get published, look at what you’ve got that has a unique juncture. Organizations won’t necessarily endorse a book, but the individuals will, and that’s what you need.