Quick Guide Working with Contributors

Setting Expectations with Your Contributors

As the main point of contact, it is important to clarify expectations for your contributors. The following are some points to consider.

Deadlines

Depending on how much time you think you will need to review the chapters submitted by your contributors, you’ll want to build some buffer time into the schedule so that you are sure to receive materials well ahead of the date that you have been asked to submit your draft or final manuscript to Cognella. You may also want to consider allowing time for your contributors to make revisions to their submission based on your feedback.

Reminder: The dates in your publishing agreement are the dates that you should be submitting files to your project editor. We recommend that you set earlier dates for your contributors to submit material to you. It’s important to allow yourself time to read the submissions and provide feedback. It’s also important to build in time for your contributors to revise their work, if needed.

Manuscript Development

Author’s Focus

As the lead author/editor of the book, you’ll be the first to review any contributor’s work. When reviewing materials, here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • Did the contributor fully and appropriately cover the topic you requested?
  • Are all the pedagogical elements you requested present?
  • Is the writing level and voice appropriate for your target audience?
  • Is the piece an appropriate length?
  • Did the contributor include citations and corresponding references?
  • Are the images (if any) properly sourced within Cognella’s image guidelines?

After reviewing submitted materials, we encourage you to provide guidance and feedback to your contributors. This helps ensure that the book is what you originally envisioned. When providing feedback, we suggest using margin notes and asking questions rather than making direct comments.

  • A question can help your contributor write more effectively while a comment often feels like criticism and may not provide the kind of guidance necessary for writing or revising more effectively.
  • A question allows an author to respond by doing something rather than just having an emotional response to a comment or feeling like a point needs to be defended.
  • Examples of helpful questions include:
    • “Can you clarify this point? I don’t feel like I fully understood.”
    • “I’m not sure exactly what you meant here. Are you saying…, or are you saying…?”
    • “Is there something you could add here to even more fully develop this point?”
    • “Is there an example that would illustrate this for readers?”
    • “Do we have a source, reference, or citation for this information? I think readers would benefit from knowing where we got this.”

Send your feedback to the contributor with a clear deadline for revisions. After you receive the revised materials back from the contributor, give it a final review to ensure your feedback was addressed before submitting to your project editor.

Contributor’s Focus

Be clear with your contributors that their focus should remain on the content of their portion of the manuscript. As a part of Cognella’s standard process, their work will be copyedited and proofread during production, so the contributor need not spend a lot of time combing through for grammar mistakes, etc. If they are worried about layout and design, you can remind them that the final manuscript will be placed in the hands of a production editor, who will address all of this. Instead, during review they should focus on the following questions:

  • Is everything cited and referenced? Are my references complete and accurate?
  • Is the presented data accurate and up-to-date?
  • Have I covered my topic completely? Is there anything extraneous that can be removed?
  • Are my tone and writing level appropriate for the target audience?
  • Have I included each pedagogical element asked of me?