After earlier posts about the role of the Development Editor and the Author, I asked Jim Minatel to talk a bit about the role of the Acquisitions Editor (AE). Jim is a top-notch AE with loads of experience. He recently launched a new blog that is dedicated to “finding good programmers and helping them write good books.” His post on the role of the AE is well worth reading. I also like what he has to say in a separate post entitled “Writing a good book proposal for me.” Here are a few excerpts, but be sure to read the full post on his blog:
Show me you can write.
If you want to write a book that several hundred pages long, or even a chapter within a book, you should be able to construct enough sentences and paragraphs to fill a couple of pages. Especially if you are a first time writer and want to break into book writing, your proposal will be a big part of what we use to evaluate your writing skills.
Be specific in your topic.
Don't write to me "I want to write an ASP.NET book." Tell me "I want to write a book on ASP.NET for experienced web developers. I'll cover X, Y, Z and those are important to experienced developers because…"
Do a little research about other books on the topic or similar topics.
If you want to write on a topic that many books already exist on, you should have read some of those books and should be able to explain what they do well and what you'll do better in your proposal.
Sell me on you.
Including your resume or CV is good. A one-paragraph description of your expertise that relates directly to the book topic is better.
Most of these can be boiled down to two key things: Do your homework and invest quality time in the documents you submit. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received proposals on interesting topics but had to reject them because the author didn’t communicate well, didn’t study the market/competition or clearly did a rush job writing the proposal. It may sound obvious, but I get the feeling very few proposals are proofread these days. The more time you spend polishing your initial proposal documents, the greater the likelihood that you’ll stand out from the crowd.