How I Finally Landed My First Book Contract in the Educational Marketplace By Dorit Sasson

It was music to my ears to finally receive an email from an editor of a big educational publishing house who wrote, “I would love to work with Dorit and her manuscript, Greater Collaboration for K-5 English Language Learners.”

Initially, I thought this contract had everything to do with the fact that I found the only K-12 agent listing for educational publishing in the United States but I realized it had everything to do with a marketable manuscript. Breaking into educational publishing for this newbie writer was one of the hardest lessons to learn but here’s what I did to increase my chances of acceptance after 100 drafts (and counting!).

Before Writing and Submitting

+ To “open doors” with editors, I used a simple idea query formula of one paragraph. It went like this: “Dear Editor(s): I noticed you publish teacher development books on subject (x). Would you be interested in a book proposal that focuses on subject (x)?”

+ In order to know the availability of “hot” topics, I checked the home pages of membership sites such as the IRA (International Reading Association) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). I also checked the “authors wanted” page to see if there was a specific calling for a topic that I had expertise in. I also checked the educational sites such as Pearson, McGraw-Hill and others to see what recent books they published. For one publisher, I took out a number of books from our public library, and studied them for tone, voice, format and length. I also checked them for a balance between theory and practical information.

+ I also checked the blog “Educational Publishing” from the Association of Educational Publishers to find out any news, notes and advice.

+ Finally, I made sure I slanted my manuscript differently so it would still have an competitive edge and fit into a book line.

Responding to Revise and Resubmit Invitations

A revise and resubmit invitation can make the difference between an acceptance or second rejection. When I received a revise and resubmit invitation, here’s what I did to help bring my manuscript to the next level:

+ Maintain a steady balance between theory and practical information – Teachers don’t have time to wade through tons of theory and they want the bottom line: “How will this information work for me and my students?”

Help editors get a better bang for their buck by thinking “practical” and include helpful charts, bulleted lists, checklists in the body of the text (instead of at the end):

+ Limit theory to just a page or two for each section of a chapter.

+ Keep practical information the focus of each chapter. What do I want teachers to do with this information?

Never, Ever Underestimate a Web Presence

Editors are very happy when they find out that you are a speaker with a website and love it even more when they read testimonials from recent workshop participants. Many publishers want writers who are also active speakers. Believe me, these editors do visit websites and, for many publishers, this helps them with the decision of whether to give a book contract even if they are dealing with a new(er) writer.

If you want to “see your manuscript through” in the educational marketplace instead of keeping it in a drawer, you’ll definitely need to “stick with glue” using these tips. And with a lot of hard work, you too, will be able to make a “dent” in the literacy field with the breakthrough of your manuscript.

Dorit Sasson is a thought leader to teachers who want to empower their students – one step at a time! She helps teachers uplevel their teaching and their success. Her speciality is presenting workshops for teachers of English Language Learners and issues of new teacher support. If you are ready to take your teaching to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at: .


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