Writing a book on GIS

10-10-2022 04:00 AM
Esri Contributor
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If writing a book has always been on your to-do list, the first thing you will have to come up with is a book proposal. Whether you’re submitting to Esri Press, or any other publisher out there, here are top tips that will make sure you don’t end up on a slush pile.

Follow the directions

Most publisher’s websites have thorough instructions on how (or even if) they take unsolicited book proposals. Here is the Esri Press book proposal  https://community.esri.com/t5/esri-press-books-documents/book-proposal-guidelines/ta-p/904387

This is no time for cutesy graphics or scented paper. Give the publisher what they want, exactly how they want it. There is a reason they need that information, so make it as easy as possible for your editor to read and evaluate it.

Know the list and do your research

Don’t propose a book that already exists in that publisher’s list. For instance, at Esri, all books will be about GIS in some way, but how is yours different than the others? Why is this book going to resonate with the audience? Note the other books that exist out there on this topic (check online retailers and similar publishers’ websites). Provide the competitive information, especially if those books sell well or your idea is unique.

Give the elevator pitch

We all know what an elevator pitch is: Two to three sentences that summarize the book. Hint: If you can’t do it clearly and concisely in two to three sentences, it might not be a fully baked idea. Keep refining it until you can communicate the overview. Include why the topic is important or timely, and what problem it is going to solve for the reader.

Know your audience

Who is going to buy this book and why? Students, professionals, experienced readers, beginners? Books that are for “everybody” usually don’t work for anyone. Know who you are writing to and write in a way that is useful to the reader.

Tell us who you are

Why are you the best person to write this book? You don’t have to include your entire CV (please don’t, unless asked), but do speak to why you are the expert in this topic.

Provide an outline and writing sample

This is important. The overview will give a summary, but a detailed outline and sample gives a true idea of the level and depth of content and how it’s going to be presented. Provide as much detail and organizational structure as possible. Make the chapter titles clear at this point: Clear is better than clever. Don’t include an intro or a conclusion as a sample. Pick a meaty chapter and dive right into it. And don’t sweat it too much: all editors know that this is subject to change as you write.


And finally: Follow the directions! Your editor will thank you for it.