Becoming a Book Author - 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

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

The successful publication of articles in peer-reviewed outlets is an affirmation of the author’s competence while the publication of books establishes a scholar’s reputation. When an article earns positive reviews from peers who have no vested interest in seeing a faculty member succeed, it is a vote of confidence. Journal article acceptance suggests that the author knows how to write in a way that others in the field respect. Yet, when an article is published, it is in a table of contents along with the article titles and names of several others. Unless a reader is citing the work, he or she may not even notice who wrote it. If you doubt that this is true, think about how you read articles before you went to graduate school—chances are, you focused on the topic and did not pay that much attention to the author’s name unless you came across it several times. A monograph—a short book on a specific topic—or a full-length book pulls the author out of the mix and draws more attention to her or his work.

Some reasons for getting involved in writing monographs or books include:

· to make a contribution to the field

· to learn about a topic in considerable depth

· to produce a compilation of what is known about a topic

· to earn tenure, promotion, sabbatical leaves, or grants

· to gain access to other opportunities, such as supported travel

· to learn more and develop specialized expertise

· to establish reputation and enhance visibility

· to make a modest supplement to income

Novelist Annie Dillard (1989) captures the relationship between author and book when she writes: “I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as with a dying friend. During visiting hours, I enter its room with dread and sympathy for its many disorders. I hold its hand and hope it will get better” (p. 52). Books are such big projects that they easily spin out of control. It takes considerable forethought and planning to successfully launch a project of this magnitude. Use the strategy in Activity 10.2 to get started.

Activity 10.2: Planning the Nonfiction Book

Think about a book you might want to write someday by answering the following questions:

· The subject matter of my book is:

· The specific audience for my book is:

· Other books written on this topic for the audience include:

· The focus, thesis, or approach of my book is:

· This topic and focus are suited for this audience because:

· This book is timely and would sell because:

· Three publishers who would produce this type of book are:

· Specific features of these competing books are:

· The book I am proposing is different from or better than these books because:

· The potential contribution of my book is:

· The resources that I will need to produce the book include:

· The book would probably be about ____ pages with ____ chapters.

· Distinguishing features that make my book unique are:

One common question about book writing has to do with your suitability for fulfilling that role.