Authorship Made Easy – Page 2

Authorship Made Easy By Susana Christie, Developmental Editor The Cognella Guide to Writing a Textbook

Phase I: Pre-writing, or How Do You Get Started?

Every book, whether it’s a magnum opus written by an experienced author, or a slender anthology compiled by someone with no previous writing experience, goes through three primary stages:

  • Pre-writing
  • Writing
  • Submitting material

Perhaps the most important, and most often overlooked, of these is the pre-writing stage. However, a thoughtful pre-writing process will make everything else easier.

The steps included within will guide you through a complete pre-writing process.

STEP ONE: Clearly identify the audience and purpose of your book. It’s easier to write if you know exactly who your reader is and what you want the book to do for that reader.

You may feel like you have a good handle on this, because you’ve taught your class for a while and are familiar with your students and their needs. Even if you are not writing for your own class, but rather with an eye to adoptions on the national market, it’s still important to explicitly articulate your audience and purpose, and keep both in mind at all times.

Knowing your audience and purpose will help keep the tone and level of your writing appropriate. It will guide your content and help you focus as a writer. It will ensure the book is accessible and student-friendly, as opposed to being appropriate for an audience of your professional peers.

STEP TWO: Review the tables of contents of competing titles. You may notice a few topics that appear in all of these. If so, these are the “must cover” topics in your discipline at this time. Curriculum committees expect them. Colleagues teach them. Potential adopters are looking for them. You will want to make sure they are part of your book, too.

STEP THREE: If you haven’t done so already, start gathering and organizing your thoughts about what you want to include in your book. There are several ways you can do this:

  • If you like structure and specificity, go with an outline.
  • If you prefer a free-flowing style, a general topic list might be perfect for you.
  • If you’re unsure how to get started, working with a graphic organizer can draw out ideas and help show how they are linked.

Your editorial team can work with you to identify the style and method that will be the best fit for you and your project. In fact, we have a specialist developmental editor, who can help with everything from deciding how to organize and sequence your chapters to selecting the specific features that will best support your content.

Typically, each author will receive feedback from our developmental editor once a sample chapter has been submitted. However, if you would like a consultation before writing the sample chapter, just let your project editor know. He or she will connect you with the developmental editor, who will be happy to help.