In my Seattle writing classes, I always provide a detailed explanation of the publishing process. As part of this, I like to invite editors to speak about how they publish books and stories. Last week, we had the pleasure of hearing from Regan Huff, the senior acquisitions editor of the University of Washington Press who spoke to my summer Seattle writing class about the changing role of university presses, which have become to the go-to source for many books that once would have been published by larger houses.
“We’re non-profit so we can do books for a mission-driven reason,” she said. “We can keep books in print forever. We care about how books are designed. We care about authors.”
Most of these presses are attached to a university, so they do publish scholarly books, but in recent years they’ve branched out to more general interest topics and readerships. “We publish a lot of books on Asian and environmental issues,” she said. “We’re publishing a first-time author who is a pilot and engineer.”
Regan explained that the U.W. press publishes authors from all over, but they are focused on the Pacific Northwest region as subject material as well as other fields.
“If you are considering pitching a book, ask yourself, have we published something like your book?” she explained to my Seattle writing class. “Most presses are interested in books related to the current list, or a particular field. Go to the website and see what they have published recently.”
Make sure that your manuscript is a good fit for the press before submitting. This entails considering how the press will market it as well as the quality of the manuscript. “Look for a fit rather than holding your work up to be judged,” she told my Seattle writing class.
When you submit your manuscript, make sure that your pitch letter and book proposal reflect this understanding. “What is your book about and why is it interesting?” she said. “Who will read the book?”
Good advice for those looking to get published!