Writing a Book Chapter - From Consumer to Producer of the Literature - Writing as Professional Development

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Writing a Book Chapter
From Consumer to Producer of the Literature
Writing as Professional Development

Another way to venture into book publishing is to generate one chapter. Many authors and editors seek authors or co-authors for chapters in books. For example, if an author is writing a comprehensive textbook for a course and feels that his or her background is inadequate, an author or co-author might be the solution. For an edited book series, editors rely extensively on chapters submitted by various authors. Many times, professors will accept these invitations and use them as an opportunity to mentor one or more colleagues, former students, or current students.

Activity 10.1: Identifying Opportunities to Contribute a Book Chapter

Look on your bookshelf. What edited book series do you see in your field? Who is the editor? Go back through the reference lists for papers you have written and search for (Ed.) or (Eds.) and then go online to view the publishing company’s catalog. If it is a series, find out more about it. Usually, the publisher will list all volumes published thus far in the series and forthcoming titles (see, for example, an overview of Springer’s book series posted at: http://link.springer.com/search?query=Book+Series). Try to locate a series that would be a suitable outlet for your work.

Table 10.2 offers general recommendations on writing chapters for books.

Table 10.2

General advice on writing a chapter

1. Talk with published authors. If they are aware of your areas of interest and expertise, they are more likely to think of you when an opportunity arises

2. Seek out calls for papers. These may be advertised in professional journals, distributed electronically, or printed out and disseminated at meetings

3. Understand your role. When you are invited, the editor or author should explain what you will contribute and how it will be acknowledged

4. Read before you sign. Go through the letter carefully and read all of the attached documents before agreeing to participate. If any of these conditions are not acceptable to you, you should decline the offer

5. Begin immediately. The day that you receive the invitation, start collecting resources and making notes. Revisit the file and revise what is there many, many times long before the deadline approaches. Above all, do not wait until the last minute

6. Revisit the guidelines. Too often, authors read the letter of invitation when it first arrives and then write the chapter without referring back to the guidelines

7. Ask for an exemplar. Book editors should provide you with very specific guidelines and, if possible, a model of the style, length, and tone that is sought. Many times, the book editor writes one or more chapters for the book and would be willing to share his or her work with you

8. Follow the format requirements. Prepare the manuscript as required in terms of the referencing style, page limit, spacing, margins, and visual material (i.e., tables, figures, charts, graphs, photographs, captions). Some publishers, such as Springer, use a template that helps to get the chapters assembled in a book-like fashion from the start, so allocate time to learn how to do this

9. Proofread and double-check references. Every mistake that you make will come back to you later. You will get list of author queries and need to address each one. Missing references can be particularly troublesome

10. Understand the review process. Usually, the author or editor will read it first and provide feedback. Then it will be sent out for anonymous peer review and revised again. After that, it is typical to see a typeset copy and make the final edits

11. Provide brief biographical information. Edited books often include brief notes about the authors’ achievements. Ask for an example of how the publisher wants this done and follow that format