CETLS Publications Day 2012

Jill Richardson, English


BMCC faculty and staff seeking to publish books for the first time were provided with information and encouragement at Publications Day, held at CETLS on March 27, 2012. Creative writing and textbook publishing were also discussed. Publications Day was facilitated by Prof. Phyllis Niles (Library) and Prof. Charlie Post (Social Sciences).   

Beating the Odds: Publishing Monographs

The odds of getting published if an editor contacts you directly are 1 in 3, according to Prof. Foster (Social Sciences), author of the peer-reviewed book, Adorno: The Recovery of Experience, published by SUNY Press in 2007. If a scholar recommends you to the publisher, the odds of getting published are 1 in 10, and if you send in your book proposal unsolicited, the odds are 1 in 100, Prof. Foster noted at the panel, entitled “Publishing Monographs. The panel also featured Prof. Carlos Hernandez (English), who co-wrote the science fiction book, Abecedarium, with Dr. Davis Schneiderman and published it in 2007 with Chiasmus Press.

Despite the odds, Professor Foster successfully found a publisher after sending his unsolicited book proposal to multiple presses. He suggested learning which presses publish similar works to yours and sending your proposal to those presses. Professor Hernandez added that we should read our own bibliographies to learn which publishers already publish books on similar topics. 

The book proposal should include a two-page summary of the book, a chapter outline, and an explanation of your targeted market, according to Prof. Foster. He suggested making a list of several books in the same field and explaining what your book does differently. “You must prove,” he added, “that there is a scholarly niche for your book.”

As a creative writer, Professor Hernandez focused his advice on searching out social networks of like-minded writers and joining professional organizations that expose us to resources that will help us get published. He suggested we ask ourselves, “What network can I create of writers and publishers that I already know?” He advised going to national conferences where editors come to talk with attendees about publishing their work. 

“It is easier to publish with a press where you have already published,” according to Prof. Hernandez. He encouraged writers to think of their work as “being continuously published” because new opportunities will present themselves after you have published. 

Publishing Textbooks: Establishing Relationships with Presses

In order to publish a textbook, you must first establish a role with the press, Prof. John Beaumont (Developmental Skills) and Prof. Rachel Theilheimer (Teacher Education) advised at their panel, “Publishing Textbooks.” Prof. Beaumont is the Series Editor and author of Book Four of the Pearson Press textbook series Focus on Writing.  Prof. Theilheimer is a co-author of Early Childhood Education: Learning Together published by McGraw Hill in 2010.

A press may ask you to become a writer after you have held other kinds of roles within its company, according to Prof. Beaumont and Prof. Theilheimer. Prof. Beaumont suggested signing up to be a reviewer for material which the press is considering. This will give potential writers an idea of what the press is interested in publishing. Once you have an established relationship with the press, they may call on you to become a “materials writer” for a section of a textbook in an area of your specialization. This can lead to other opportunities to become a co-writer, a designer of a series of textbooks, or to be hired as a consultant on the publisher’s projects.

Prof. Theilheimer added that you may initially be invited to be on an “advisory panel”, which will allow you to learn what the press publishes and how to situate yourself as a potential writer for their books. She first began as a reviewer for McGraw Hill then joined an advisory panel.  The press first knew her as a consumer of their products, which encouraged them to use her as a resource for their projects. 

Prof. Beaumont explained that he first started as an author for Pearson in 1998 and built a relationship with the press that led to his involvement in other projects. 

After being approached to write books for their respective presses, Prof. Beaumont and Prof. Theilheimer were each asked for a project rationale and table of contents. Later they were asked for sections of chapters, which the press sent out to multiple reviewers. The entire publishing process including the editing and textbook design took two and a half to three and a half years.