Writing for ALA Editions
A query will briefly describe your topic, why it’s needed, and a bit about yourself. We’ll need to know enough about your project, why it’s distinctive, and how it fits our list and customer needs. Send queries by email and include your topic in the subject line. If we like it, we’ll request a full proposal.
Proposals include a topic outline, a description of audience, and analysis of competing or comparable books that will serve to position your project in the marketplace, along with schedule, proposed length, and perhaps a writing sample. Click here for full proposal guidelines.
The editors of ALA Editions urge authors preparing proposals or manuscripts to make diversity a force in their publications. No longer is diversity a concern only for a handful of urban libraries in gateway cities. Throughout the country, our communities are changing, and diversity is integral to library service and professionalism. Quality professional publications have always pointed the way to innovative service. How does diversity touch your topic?
For Authors with Works in Progress
Visit the Guidelines for Authors page for direction in preparing your manuscript and helping us market your book.
FAQ on publishing with ALA Editions
Why publish with ALA Editions?
What kinds of publication projects are of interest to ALA Editions?
What kinds of projects are of less interest?
What happens to a proposal after it's received?
What happens when a proposal is approved?
Once an agreement is signed, how does ALA Editions help develop a project?
Book publishing seems to take such a long time. What's the deal?
What are ALA Editions standard marketing activities for a project?
- Publishing with ALA Editions gives your work a share in the legacy of ALA and the solid reputation it enjoys.
- ALA Edition's contract terms are competitive.
- Your work is in the hands of seasoned publishing pros and professional librarians. We develop, manufacture, and market your project in a way that draws good reviews and customer interest worldwide.
- ALA Editions markets every title to at least 100,000 customers.
Projects with clear, immediate, and unique value to sizeable segments of the library community. For example:
- Standards and guidelines used broadly in the library/information field
- Basic approaches to major new developments in the field
- Handbooks, manuals, primers, deskbooks,encyclopedias, textbooks.
- Projects that go "beyond information," adding practical applications and other values to serve a broader audience.
- Specialized but high-value information.
While there are often exceptions to the rule, these are some of the projects that don't seem to work for us:
- Fewer than 100 doublespaced manuscript pages
- Arcane topics or approaches
- Heavily theoretical treatment of practical topics
- Information already dated when submitted
- Bibliographies without useful annotations and some value-added focus.
- Conference proceedings
- Historical treatments
If it just doesn't fit our program, we’ll let you know promptly. Otherwise, the Publisher assigns it to an acquisitions editor to consider. If the editor sees the project as one ALA Editions should acquire, he or she becomes its "sponsoring editor" and prepares background to help a broader group of ALA Publishing staff evaluate the project. If the sponsoring editor makes a good case, the group okays a contract offer. Sometimes we go back to the author suggesting certain modifications, such as a reduction in size or inclusion of multicultural elements. If the group fails to approve the project, it is rejected.
The sponsoring editor prepares a legal publishing "Memorandum of Agreement" working from our standard contract terms. Depending on the editor's workload and the number of standard terms that must be adjusted, this may take a few weeks. Deviations from standard terms must be negotiated with the editor and approved by ALA's Publishing Department director.
The sponsoring editor works with the author to assure that the project delivers its promised values to the intended market and is competitive with similar titles. Experienced editors help fine-tune the structure, approach, and usefulness of a product. Some works require very little editorial intervention, others a great deal if the work is to be "satisfactory to the Publisher" by the deadline date.
ALA Edition's books go through scores of exacting editorial and production processes, which is why they are worthy of the name and the values we attribute to books. The usual allowance in publishing is six to twelve months between submission and publication. At ALA Editions the normal cycle is seven to ten months after a satisfactory manuscript is received. We often produce fast-track projects in a shorter span.
- A high-profile pitch in the ALA Editions catalog sent to a targeted mailing list of 100–150K customers.
- Conversion to ebook formats
- Listing in ALA Online Store, including table of contents and review blurbs.
- Listing with key wholesalers and Amazon
- Press releases to targeted media, organizations, and administrators
- Promotion through email blasts.
- Review copies to customized list of media editors
- Exhibits and sales at ALA annual, midwinter, and division conferences
- Exhibits and/or sales at other selected professional meetings
- Audience- and subject-specific direct mail where appropriate
- International catalog listings through ALA's commissioned representatives
- Listing in any general compilations of ALA publications
- Inclusion in display ads available to journals as space permits
- Promotion via flyers with reply order form
- Inclusion in standing-order shipments where appropriate.