Our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy have changed. We think you'll like them better this way.

An Academic's Introduction to Trade Book Authorship

  • Broadcast in Writing
  • 1 comment
Textbook and Academic Authors

Textbook and Academic Authors


Follow This Show

If you liked this show, you should follow Textbook and Academic Authors.
Authoring a nonfiction paperback for general readers (in industry parlance, a trade book) is an adventure into the unknown for many academics, even those who have been prolific in academic publishing. Decisions to be made include: Which facets of my academic expertise will interest general audiences? How should I adapt my writing style in authoring a trade book? What should my manuscript and book proposal look like? Do I need an agent, and how do I find one? How will I negotiate a contract with a publisher? What will I do to publicize my book? Join us for an interview with Rutgers Professor Paula Caligiuri and freelance editor Elsa Peterson, who recently worked together on Paula's first trade book, for a sneak peek of their 60-minute TAA Audio Conference (Wed., Oct. 27, 1-2 p.m.): http://bit.ly/9FV1Uw


0:05 Kim Pawlak

Welcome to the Text and Academic Authors Association Podcast Series. My name is Kim Pawlak and today I am interviewing Rutgers University Professor, Paula Caligiuri, and Freelance Editor, Elsa Peterson, on how academics can break in to trade book publishing. Elsa recently worked on Paula's new trade book, "Get a Life, Not a Job" published this year by FT Press. Paula is a professor in the Human Resource Management Department at Rutgers University where she has directed the Center for HR Strategy since 2001. She has been recognized as one of the most prolific authors in the field of international business for her work in global careers, international human resource management, and global leadership development. In addition to her recent trade book, Paula co-authored two books for human resource management professional, "Harmonizing Work, Family, and Personal Life" published by Cambridge Press in 2008 and "Managing the Global Workforce" published this year by Wiley. Paula has also covered career-related topics for CNN and has hosted a pilot for a television show, Career Watch. Paula holds a PhD from Penn State University in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Elsa has been doing editorial work, primarily for the college textbook industry since 1984. Although her academic background is in music, she holds a BA with highest honors from the University of California at Riverside and an MA from Case Western Reserve University. Her versatile editing talents have led her into a wide variety of disciplines ranging from the Arts and Humanities to Psychology, Business and Management, Human Physiology and Nutrition, and Foreign Language. She was a senior developmental editor for psychology with McGraw-Hill Higher Education and has freelanced for virtually every leading textbook publisher in the US. In addition to manuscript development, she is experienced in permissions editing, picture research, and writing content for textbook ancillaries. Hello, Paula and Elsa. Thank you for joining us today.

2:10 Paula Caligiuri

Hi Kim! Thanks for the invitation to be here.

2:13 Elsa Peterson

Thanks for having us.

2:17 Kim Pawlak

Paula, you have done quite a lot of rating for academic publication. You've been recognized as especially a prolific author. Can you give us an idea of how many publications, let's say, in the past year or two? I asked because I'm interested in the extent to which your mean recognition and academic circle helped you in finding an audience for "Get a Life, Not a Job". Tell us a little about that.

2:38 Paula Caligiuri

Nice so real. Thanks. Okay. So I have written actually dozens and dozens and dozens of journal articles for the academic audience. As you mentioned, I've written some books for -- more of an academic audience, more of the textbook area. I'm very well known in my field. I'm currently the area editor for Human Resources for the Journal of International Business Studies, and I'm saying all of these with a little bit a laugh in my voice, because none of that mattered when I wrote "Get a Life, Not a Job". When it came a time to actually promote "Get a Life, Not a Job", I was frankly told that the biggest most important thing for selling that type of book had nothing to do with the items on vita. It was 100% driven by how many people knew me. So I was asked questions like, how many people followed my blog and at the time I didn't have a blog. How many people followed me on Twitter, the time I didn't have a Twitter account. How many people were fans of mine on Facebook? You get the picture? I really had none of the things that the trade folks we're really looking for.

3:53 Kim Pawlak

Paula, how did you and Elsa get connected?

3:56 Paula Caligiuri

Sure. Actually, we were connected -- I think the way most professionals connect, right? Through referrals by people we trust; two of my closest friends in the world, wrote a textbook and worked with Elsa under textbook and we're talking one day over dinner about -- actually, a textbook I was writing, "Managing the Global Workforce" and they both said "Oh! We know exactly who you need to speak with" and gave me else's name. So from then, we've been working for quite a while together now.

4:30 Kim Pawlak

So, what made you decide that the time was right to...

4:31 Elsa Peterson

Yeah. That was very exciting.

4:33 Paula Caligiuri

Yes, it was.

4:36 Kim Pawlak

What made you decide that the time was right to come out with a book for general audiences? How did you decide what to write about?

4:43 Paula Caligiuri

Well "Get a Life, Not a Job", so think it as my -- when you read my bio and as I tried to share, all my academic writing has been in the area of international careers where I'm known. It's how I'm known professionally so even within the business community, that's really how I'm known. This was different, "Get a Life, Not a Job" is about people frankly who were losing there jobs in the late 2008, early 2009. I wrote it because friends and love ones, people I cared about most on the planet, were losing their jobs and these are folks who are dedicated and committed, and hardworking and have been with the organizations for 10-20 years and they basically were turning around to me and saying, "Paula, you've been running the Center for HR Strategy for almost a decade, what just happened?" and frankly I knew what just happened. There's been a huge shift in the psychological contract between employers and employees, and we're playing by some different world, the employers and the employees, and to my approach to writing "Get a Life, Not a Job" was really my approach to speaking to those I love about what's changing in the world of work. So, it was a labor of love that came from the heart. It was connected to my academic discipline and that I'm an industrial organizational psychologist, but it was in some ways not connected to what I was known for as an academic.

6:13 Kim Pawlak

Okay. Also when Paula asked you to look at the manuscript for "Get a Life, Not a Job", what were your impressions of the book?

6:23 Elsa Peterson

Well, I thought that it was very timely because of Paula says at that time in the headlines, everyday you were just hearing and reading about people losing their jobs, be laid off, we've had had the Lehman Brothers collapse, and the stock market had lost so much of its value just a few months before that, and everybody was as just around, being very concerned about employment, and here she has something to say that was very positive about how your work fits in with in with your life and it wasn't just the same old work life balance thing that we've been hearing for and reading about in the -- especially women's magazines -- for three years. It was really a fresh approach, and I will say that she had a different working title and when the book was actually ready to come out and it was given this title, "Get a Life, Not a Job", I thought that's great because that really capitalized the message, and I guess that was something that a publisher can do for you, is when you're in the sick of it and putting together a book, you don't always think of the best title that's going to -- just hit the person buying the book right between the eyes and go, "Oh! This is the one it's about. This is the book that I want to read." So, there was that and then I will also say that I was familiar with Paula's academic writing style because, as she said, I have worked on the "Managing the Global Workforce" and one or two for other academically-oriented writings, and I was really impressed with how she changed her style to be as she said, speaking from the heart and just to make it understandable to the average person reading that book to the general readers, lay people, trade book buyers, and as we should say -- when we say trade book, we're not talking about to the trade like people working in a certain trade, we're talking about what the publishing world calls the trade publishing, which is publishing books for general readers; publishing books that you would find in any bookstore. And to conclude answering your question, Kim, Paula wanted to know if I thought the book has a potential, and I definitely thought that it did.

8:42 Kim Pawlak

Elsa, you've done a lot of editing of college textbooks, was this your first book for general audiences?

8:48 Elsa Peterson

Well, it almost was. I had been always interested in doing this kind of work and it just seemed like I attended to attract jobs from college textbook publishers that I had edited and actually have to write just one book for general readers. It's a book by an author who's a high-profile research scientist. She worked with NASA for quite a number of years and worked with the astronauts, and she wanted to write a book for general audiences about what she have learned about gravity and the effect on the human body. So, I had helped to work on that book, and since the time got I worked with Paula on "Get a Life, Not a Job", I have done some more editing and publication for general readers. So, that's a little bit new to me, but I'd always been a voracious reader myself, so I always knew like what I want to read. And then, I think also that my years of college textbook experiences were really helpful because I'm in a habit of putting myself in the place of a first year college student; something who doesn't really know the material and to sit back as the editor and insist that the writing has to be clear, and that the ideas have to be presented in a way that somebody can understand who is coming from a position of not knowing the material. So, in a sense, it was very similar.

10:08 Kim Pawlak

Well, thank you both for sharing your experiences with us today. Paula and Elsa will be presenting a 60-minute audio conference for TAA members on October 27 from 1-2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. During this expanded discussion of today's topic, they will go into more detail on some of these questions. Paula and Elsa, what else do plan to cover?

10:33 Elsa Peterson

Well, I think one of the things we are going to cover is how to get a manuscript ready to submit to an agent or publisher when you're writing something for trade publishing for general readers. A lot of people are surprised to know that you don't have to complete the whole book before you're ready to show it to an agent or a publisher. So, I'll be talking about that process and I'll be giving some resources that our listeners can refer to on their own if they're interested in doing something in this direction, and I know Paula has a lot of other information she is going to share.

11:06 Paula Caligiuri

Yeah, also I think I'm going to be the one sharing what is like to be an academic who's publishing in this -- in the trade press, particularly the things that were truly surprising for me is someone who had a couple of books under her belt, I was sincerely surprised at the whole process of needing an agent, what that meant, having to build an author's platform and what that meant, starting a blog, and how that was to begin and what getting this concept of followers meant which I thought was really very unique, very different from textbook. I will also talk about working with the publicist, I hired a publicist. So in addition to having an agent, I have publicist, and what that was like. Certainly, all of the promotional work that goes around promoting your trade press book and I'm happy to speak to that and certainly answer any questions around that topic as well.

12:01 Kim Pawlak

That sounds terrific. I can't wait to listen to that audio conference. So, do our listeners have any questions for Paula or Elsa today, if you are just listening on Blog Talk Radio, you can call in at with a toll free number, 1877-572-4281, and if you want to ask a question, press 1 to indicate that you have a question and I will put you on air. That may take a minute for someone else -- someone to call in. So, Paula and Elsa, is there anything else that you want to share with our callers today?

12:49 Elsa Peterson

Well I'm looking at the cover of "Get a Life, Not a Job" to straight them, and holding it at my hand and I think the publisher did a lovely job of designing a cover that's really attractive, and contrary to the old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover", from what the people and trade publishing tell us all the time, people absolutely judge books by their cover. Don't they, Paula?

13:13 Paula Caligiuri

Oh, you can say that again. Also, in fact, when I first signed my contract, I basically signed over the rights to everything, including the title and the cover. My acquisition strategies that my senior editor said to me, "She was terrific." She said, "Paula, my husband is in Academics, so please don't take a sense to this one, I tell me. Your book will sell on two things. It's the cover and how many people know you." Which I thought was pretty terrific and then they actually had a branding and naming team working from the publisher, working on coming up with a name for the book. So, I wish I could take credit for "Get a Life, Not a Job." It wasn't all my idea.

13:57 Kim Pawlak

Well, it looks like we have a couple of callers. Hello caller, what questions do you have for Paula and Elsa today?

14:06 S1

Hi! I was wondering how the author experienced academic editing -- how that felt to her versus how the editing process felt to her -- purely, emotional reaction in this book for the general public?

14:29 Paula Caligiuri

Interesting. So you're really curious about, sort of the point when I felt that I was finished writing and it was now in the hands of an editor -- was that, is that the really the nature of the question?

14:40 S1

Right. Right. I'm wondering did it feel emotionally different to you? Did it feel like a more invasive process than academic editing?

14:54 Paula Caligiuri

Not so much. I think as Elsa described -- my writing style really various tremendously with my audience, and I quite like writing on the creative side and I think the -- if I had to characterize "Get a Life, Not a Job", it has more of a conversational tone to it and that was me, that was truly me. So in both cases, when Elsa was working with me on those, she heard my voice, she knew my voice, and could adapt in a pre-editorial land with my voice in mind. So, there was nothing about that it was shaped it in anyway, the change when I had really -- from I heart, wanted to say. So, for me, it was fine, not sure if I'm typical or if that is very typical.

15:40 S1


15:41 Elsa Peterson

Oh, I'm happy to hear that Paula, and I will say that since I had already worked with her, we had a relationship, so it might have been different if she had been just assigned as an editor through the publisher or in some other situation. But when I edited "Get a Life, Not a Job", I did it with a very, very light hand. I was only looking for things that really didn't hang together, things that were really mistakes because I could see that this was really Paula's voice. So, I was a lot looser then I would be if I were editing, let's say a textbook.

16:22 Kim Pawlak

Okay caller, did you have any other questions for Paula and Elsa?

16:27 S1

No. That's exactly what I wanted to know.

16:30 Kim Pawlak

Okay. Thank you.

16:34 Richard

This is Richard. Can you hear me?

16:36 Kim Pawlak

Hello. Yes, we can hear you.

16:37 Paula Caligiuri

Yes, we can.

16:38 Richard

Yes! Thank you so much. I'm calling to ask what you perceived the relationship is between an editor and an agent for a manuscript that is under development?

17:01 Kim Pawlak

Who would you like to have answer that?

17:04 Richard

Either one of you. It's either of you or...

17:06 Paula Caligiuri

Elsa, I want you to go -- I want you to go first and then I'll jump in.

17:11 Elsa Peterson

Oh Paula, did you say you want me to go first?

17:13 Paula Caligiuri

Yeah sure, why don't you go first on that one.

17:17 Elsa Peterson

Okay. Well I'm a very, very experienced editor but I'm absolutely not an agent. I don't have any pipeline to any in particular publishing houses. I know how you are suppose to submit just by reading books on, how to write a book proposal, how to get a manuscript, and looking at different publishers' websites where they did their guidelines for submission, but I don't work those relationships the way an agent does, and I don't know about hold their contracts at the in-depth level that an agent needs to know. These are all of the stuff that agents do that I have no knowledge of, and I think the reverse -- pretty sure, I mean there are some literary agents that will also kind of help with the editing process, but generally, the agent accepts the author to already have the manuscript edited. Can you tell me if I'm wrong about any of that -- that's my impression for my years of experience in the business.

18:22 Paula Caligiuri

Thanks, Elsa. That's why I wanted you to go first because that was my impression as well. I was hoping that my experience was more typical. There was very little connection between finding an agent and the process of finding an agent, and then once I did find an agent who is terrific, he basically took the book on because he believed in the book and the way it was written, and then the process started of him trying to find the publisher and once the publisher had been identified, that's when we worked internally with ST Press with the developmental editor and then with Elsa to also help as she mentioned work with me, and I'm moving out some of the pieces of the book. So in my mind, they were two very different activities, working with very different professionals.

19:13 Elsa Peterson

And we would be going into more depths about that when we do our tele conference, right?

19:17 Paula Caligiuri


19:19 Richard

Thank you very much.

19:22 Paula Caligiuri

Thanks Richard.

19:22 Elsa Peterson

Thank you.

19:25 Kim Pawlak

Alright. Anyone else have any other questions for Paula and Elsa today? Okay, I think that's all of our questions from callers. So, thank you Paula and Elsa for talking with me today. I'm looking forward to your expanded audio conference on October 27th.

19:54 Paula Caligiuri

Great. Thank you.

19:55 Elsa Peterson

Well Kim, this is really fun.

19:57 Kim Pawlak

It was fun. Thank you. Well, as I mentioned earlier, Paula and Elsa will be presenting an expanded version of today's topic as an audio conference members of the Text and Academic Authors Association on October 27th from 1-2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Participation is free for members. If you're not already a TAA member, you can join for as little as $15. Non-members can participate in the audio conference for $69. All audio conferences are recorded and made available as podcast in the Members Only section of the TAA website. For more information, visit www.taaonline.net. Thank you for listening today's podcast. This is Kim Pawlak with the TAA Podcast Series.