Note: This is a short list of reference and how-to books that I’ve compiled for authors who are working on a first manuscript, or on a book the author hopes will “break out”–i.e., cross over to a reading audience beyond the academy. I would especially encourage those working on a promising subject of broader-than-usual interest to work toward producing the second type of book. These are the projects that publisher of most any kind seek: works that raise the profile of a discipline within the larger world and, in the best case, make a valuable contribution to public discourse.
If anyone can recommend another book in this line that he or she has found helpful, I’d be very glad to hear about it and will add it to my running list.
Boyd Zenner, Acquiring Editor
University of Virginia Press
Association of American University Presses Directory published annually by AAUP; currently $19.00 paperback
It’s probably not necessary to buy this directory–your library almost certainly has a copy–but it is a very useful resource to consult when you’re beginning to consider potential publishers for your manuscript. The directory lists names, titles, and contact information for current personnel at all member presses, and also lists the disciplines in which each press publishes. Additionally, there is a grid in the front of the book that cross-indexes presses with disciplines, so that you can quickly find which academic presses publish in your field.
Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams The Craft of Research, 2nd ed. University of Chicago Press 2003; $15.00 paperback This practical and accessible guide by three eminent critics focuses on how to build an first-rate academic book, and on author-press relations.
Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed. University of Chicago Press 2003; $55.00 cloth (but generally available used on www.abe.com and elsewhere) The bible of academic manuscript preparation: comprehensive and authoritative. The 15th edition–the most recent–contains a great deal of new and updated information on electronic publishing and copyright issues.
Germano, William Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books. University of Chicago Press 2001; $15.00 paperback Reassuring and detailed advice from the editorial director of Routledge. Particularly good information for neophytes on the nuts-and-bolts of academic publishing: e.g., what editors look for in a book proposal, how to interpret and survive the review process, and how to decode a contract.
Luey, Beth (ed.) Revising Your Dissertation: Advice from Leading Editors. University of California Press 2004; $16.95 paperback Full of helpful, practical advice from revered professionals on turning a dissertation into a real book. Topics addressed include style and voice, restructuring, trimming, finding and successfully addressing a new audience, and many others.
Rabiner, Susan, and Alfred Fortunato Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction–and Get it Published. Norton 2002; $26.95 cloth. An excellent book by an agent and an editor whose focus is on helping authors produce serious books whose appeal and influence will extend beyond the academy. Particularly good on how to structure a central argument. The book helpfully includes a sample proposal and sample