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Research Impact: Strategic book publishing

Get strategies to increase the reach of your work and measure your research impact

Your choice of book publisher will depend on a range of factors including your career stage and specific field. You’ll need to take into account a number of these factors as you consider publishing a book. 

Identify possible publishers

Step One

Start by identifying a list of reputable publishers that publish books in your field. Consider university presses and commercial publishers. Which publishers do you and your colleagues read and recommend?

What makes a publisher disreputable?

Be suspicious of publishers who:

  • approach you directly, or solicit through email campaigns
  • ask you for money to publish your book
  • have no peer review process

Finally, speak to experienced colleagues before agreeing to anything.

Step Two

Make sure you have a proposal and usually at least two chapters ready to show editors.

Step Three

At the first approach, usually through email, provide a description of the book with the proposal attached.


Which publisher is best?

What type of book are you writing?

Think about the type of book you are wanting to publish. Some publishers specialise in textbooks, others are known for publishing academic monographs. Is your book written for a general audience or for an academic audience? Some publishers publish only academic or trade books. To help you decide what type of book you’re writing, ask yourself who your audience is (the answer should be a specific group or groups, e.g. practitioners or undergraduate students). Considering what level or style of referencing your book needs may help you to answer this question. 

What gets counted as an official research output by the Australian Research Council?

Note that that material submitted to ERA must meet the definition of research – which only includes the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts. This generally excludes textbooks.

Read more at the Research Portfolio and also see ERA 2018 Submission Guidelines (page 26) for a list of eligible research output types.

They publish books in your field/subject area

Do they publish a book series that is significant in your field?

Is a particular type of publisher considered more prestigious in your discipline and circumstances? Some publishers can be strong in particular fields and this can trump the general hierarchy of prestige.


Their books are distributed widely

Check library catalogues to see if recent publications from this publisher are available in libraries. Check both the University of Sydney Library Search and international library collections through WorldCat.

Electronically available books can be more heavily used. Does the publisher offer eBook publishing? Will your book receive a DOI? This can help with tracking and findability.


Editorial approach

Who edited the books you like most? Are there editors your colleagues can recommend or put you in touch with?


Their books get picked up for review

Are books from this publisher regularly reviewed? If you work in a field where journals publish book reviews as well as research articles, look to see whether books from the publisher are reviewed there. You can also look at book reviewing publications such as the Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, New York Times Book Review and Australian Book Review.


Edited books

Talk to colleagues and mentors about the standing and impact of edited books in your field.

Often edited books are the product of collaboration and networking with other scholars. They can also result from attending conferences and giving papers. When asked to publish a chapter in an edited book of conference proceedings, make sure you assess the quality and standing of the publisher and editor associated with the book.


Read more

Kelsky, K. (2015, July 2). How to write a book proposal.

PhD2Published. (2016). Book publishing.

Thomson, P. (2011). Picking the right publisher for your book.

Times Higher Education. (2014). 10 point guide to dodging publishing pitfalls.