Top 10 Tips for Filling in Your Author Questionnaire

Anyone that publishes with us will be asked to submit an important document along with their final manuscript – the author questionnaire. In this post we share our top 10 tips for filling it in. 

We look at your AQ in our monthly marketing meeting and use it as a basis for your book’s marketing plan

Your author questionnaire is the place to include all information about your book, including key selling points, ideas for marketing and any marketing contacts you might already have. It’s the starting point for creating our marketing plan for your book so the more information you can provide, the more we can do to promote your book.

  1. Contact details. Please including postal and email addresses for yourself and your co-authors and co-editors. We need to contact you and your co-authors throughout the process and it is helpful to have all your details at the start.
  2. Unique selling points. These help us to focus on what booksellers and customers will find interesting about your book and what makes it different from existing titles. The more points you can provide, the more attractive your book will be.
  3. Readership. Please provide detailed information about the subject interests and level of readers for your book, for example, undergraduate students of sociolinguistics, postgraduate students working in cultural studies or academic researchers interested in tourism and religion. We are looking for information on the main target audience so please don’t include the general reader unless your book is likely to have a large mainstream audience.
  4. Keywords. Think about the sort of search terms people might use when looking for your book. These terms are entered into our database and they are sent out in our data feed to booksellers and retailers.
  5. Conferences. If you’re going to be speaking at or attending a conference, please let us know. We will always try to arrange for publicity for your book to be sent to relevant conferences, particularly if you are giving a talk. It is helpful for us to have as much notice as possible to organise this as it can sometimes take a while to ship books and publicity materials to international conferences.
  6. Social networks. Your own contacts and networks are an invaluable resource. You can post about your book on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites so that your friends and colleagues know that your book is coming out soon. A few months before publication we will send you a special discount code for preorders so you can encourage people to order the book.
  7. Personal contacts. Please let us know if you have any specific contacts in any national or international media (newspapers, magazines, radio etc) who are likely to review or feature your book. This may not be relevant for all books, but if your book is related to a topic that is often covered in the news then it might be picked up. Similarly, please list any details of relevant organisations, groups or societies which might be interested in your book.
  8. Book prizes. If your book is eligible for any prizes or awards, please let us know. We are always happy to enter your book providing it meets all the entry criteria.
  9. Complimentary copies. We are happy to send up to 5 hard copies and 5 ebooks of your book to people of your choice. We usually suggest that you list influential people in your field who will be interested in your work and may help promote it, but really the choice is yours!
  10. Any other marketing ideas? If you have any other ideas for marketing your book, we are always happy to work with you on these. Just provide any suggestions you might have along with relevant details on the questionnaire and we’ll do our best to make it happen!

If you have any other queries about your author questionnaire, please contact your commissioning editor.

 

Publishing FAQs: The Marketing Process

The marketing process is managed by me as Head of Marketing and I am assisted by Flo who is Marketing and Publishing Coordinator. Together, we make sure that we publicise each book to booksellers, retailers and individuals as well as across our social media channels. We also produce print catalogues and regular email newsletters to promote our books and ensure we inform relevant organisations and groups. We receive all kinds of queries throughout the marketing process so I’ve attempted to answer some of the most common questions here.

When will you start marketing my book?

Elinor and Flo about to have their monthly marketing meeting

As soon as a book goes into production we begin the marketing process. This will be approximately 6 months before publication. We create an individual marketing plan for each title and incorporate both the commissioning editor and the author’s suggestions. You can read more about this process in Flo’s blog post.

Can I buy copies of my book at a discount?

Yes, as an author you are entitled to a 50% discount on all our titles, including your own book. We will also provide you with a discount flyer for you to send to all your friends and colleagues and take to any talks you are giving or conferences you’re attending.

The price of my book is incorrect on Amazon / My book isn’t available on Amazon. Can you fix this?

We can’t make changes directly to Amazon’s site but if there are any errors such as prices, publication date, title etc we can request for these to be updated as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we’re unable to prompt Amazon to place an order so sometimes your book may be marked as unavailable due to a delay in them ordering stock.

Will my book be on sale in my local Waterstones?

It’s possible that Waterstones will stock your book if it’s a university branch and the book is a course book at your institution. Otherwise it’s unlikely that your book will be available as they stock very few high level academic titles in their high street stores. However, the main sales of our titles come from other sources so please don’t be concerned if your local bookshop isn’t stocking your book.

Will you be marketing my book on social media?

Yes, definitely! We market all our books through our various social media channels. Campaigns are always more successful when the author is involved so we send our authors a detailed guide to marketing on social media at the start of the marketing process.

Can I post about my book on Facebook?

Yes please do! Although we market all our books through our own channels, it’s always far more effective for authors to utilise their own personal contacts to sell their book.

Can you send a review copy of my book to X journal?

We are happy to send review copies of your book to relevant journals and will be asking for suggestions at the start of the marketing process. Please be aware that some journals don’t have a book review section and therefore will be unable to review the book.

Do I have to fill in an author questionnaire?

Yes you do, and your commissioning editor will send it to you at the appropriate time. The information you provide on your author questionnaire is vital for helping us to understand how best to market your book and to reach the appropriate audience. It is also the best way of sharing any of your own existing contacts and any other ideas you have for marketing your book.

Will you be organising a book launch for my book?

We’re not able to organise book launches for every book but if you are organising an event, please let us know so that we can arrange for copies to be sent in good time, and if it’s local or we happen to be in the area, we may even be able to attend. Equally, if there is a conference where a book event is appropriate we would be happy to support you with marketing materials.

Will my book be featured in mainstream media?

Our books do occasionally get picked up in mainstream media but these are exceptions, not the norm. However, if your book relates to a topical or controversial issue that is currently being covered in the media then it’s possible that it can be featured. Any media contacts you have or ideas for publications for us to approach are very helpful.

Can I have a free copy of my book for my mum?

Yes of course! On the author questionnaire you can list people who you would like to receive a copy of your book. We usually suggest that you list influential people in your field who will be interested in your work and may help promote it, but of course you can list your mum as one of your recipients.

Will all the contributors to my book receive a free copy?

What the contributors will receive is stated in the contributor agreements which are signed early in the editorial process. If you have any queries about this, please contact your commissioning editor.

My conference displayWill my book be on display at X conference?

If you have listed the conference on your author questionnaire we will do our best to get some publicity there. Unfortunately we don’t have an unlimited budget and the costs of some conferences are so prohibitive that we’re unable to attend all those that we would like to.

Why isn’t my book going to be published in paperback?

The decision of whether to publish your book in paperback and hardback or hardback only is made by the commissioning editor and the rest of the team. Your commissioning editor is your best contact for this question.

Will my book be listed in your catalogue?

Yes all our recent books will be included in our main catalogue which is printed each year in September. Go to our website to join our mailing list to ensure you receive a copy.

If you have any queries about social media or review copies, please contact Flo at flo@multilingual-matters.com. For all other marketing queries please contact me at elinor@multilingual-matters.com.

Elinor

Job Changes at CVP/MM: What’s in a Job Title Anyway?

With the welcome return of Elinor Robertson to our office next month after spending a year on maternity leave, we have taken the time to have a reshuffle of some of the main responsibilities within the business, and have a look at our job titles to make sure they truly reflect the work of each team member here at Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters. With a small business it is natural that we all wear many hats, and so it is nearly impossible to get a single job title to accurately cover all aspects of each person’s work. What is more important is that when we present ourselves to our contacts outside the company, our job titles reflect the level of responsibility that we carry, so that our contacts know who to talk to about any given issue.

Elinor Robertson will be returning to her job in charge of all matters relating to marketing. As the most senior person for marketing, her new job title will be Head of Marketing. Because she will be coming back part-time, she will be passing on her role as Commissioning Editor for our series Aspects of TourismAspects of Tourism Texts and Tourism Essentials to Sarah Williams so that she is better able to dedicate her time to marketing all of our books globally.

 

Laura Longworth will be taking on the newly-created role of Head of Sales, which will involve her taking over the sales related responsibilities that have previously been split between Tommi Grover and Elinor Robertson. Laura will be liaising with distributors, sales representatives, bookshops and wholesalers to ensure that our books get the widest possible distribution, while continuing to manage rights permissions. Laura will also continue to commission for the Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Communication Disorders across Languages, Early Language Learning in School Contexts, Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching, Second Language Acquisition and Translation, Interpreting and Social Justice in a Globalised World book series.

 

Sarah Williams will take on all commissioning for the Channel View Publications imprint, and with her job as the most senior contact for all production-related issues, her job title will be changed to Head of Production. Sarah manages our freelance production contacts and liaises with all of our suppliers, as well as setting our production strategy and quality values, so carries the responsibility for ensuring that our books are always of high quality, whether they are print books or ebook resources.

 

Flo McClelland, Anna Roderick and Tommi Grover will keep their current job titles as their jobs are not changing so dramatically:

Flo McClelland is our Marketing and Publishing Coordinator and runs all our social media accounts. She also works with our designers and authors on book covers and with Elinor in the marketing department on all matters relating to marketing and publicity. Flo will be coordinating the work of our incoming Publishing Intern (more to follow later) and you will also come across Flo more often at conferences in the future, so please make sure you say hello if you see her!

 

Anna Roderick is our Editorial Director and is in charge of editorial strategy for the business. The subject areas we publish in, and the editorial tone of the business, are a constantly-evolving work; although we naturally stay true to our core beliefs, it is important for us to branch out into new fields and it is Anna who searches out these areas and discovers the inspiration for our future publications. She also commissions everything that isn’t commissioned by someone else, and attempts to make the rest of the editorial department do their admin. Together with Tommi she is half of our board of directors, and shares the legal responsibility for the business.

 

Tommi Grover is Managing Director, and has day-to-day responsibility for all matters relating to finance and the legal side of running the business. He oversees the running of all departments to make sure where possible that each of the heads of departments have adequate resources and skills. Tommi will continue to attend major conferences and book fairs and has commissioning responsibility for our Linguistic Diversity and Language Rights, and CAL Series on Language Education book series.

Behind the Scenes… What Happens to an Accepted Manuscript?

Once a manuscript has undergone external peer review, been suitably revised by the author and is approved for publication by the series editors (where relevant), it is accepted for publication. We then ask the author to complete an author questionnaire and checklist and start to get the manuscript moving towards production. But what are we doing exactly? In this post, Laura outlines the small but vital stages between editorial and production.

Commissioning Editors with books from their respective series

The first thing a Commissioning Editor does is book a slot on our production schedule. Each month we publish a certain number of books, typically between 4 and 6, so there are a limited number of places available. The Commissioning Editor will most likely have already provisionally pencilled in the manuscript well in advance of it being accepted, using their knowledge about the extent of the revisions required and how busy the author and series editors’ schedules are. But it is only now that a publication date is set and finalised. At this point it is therefore extremely helpful to us if authors keep to deadlines they have promised!

Once the Commissioning Editor has received all the final files and supporting documents, they will check through the manuscript one last time. They ensure that the author has submitted all the documents (table of contents, each chapter, references, appendices etc) and confirm that permission has been cleared for all material from external sources. They will then update the book’s proposal P&L with the latest word count, as we use this to estimate the pagination and price.

The book is then ready for the Commissioning Editor to schedule for discussion at the next in-house editorial meeting, usually held weekly. For those of us not involved in the book until this stage, this might be the first we’ve heard of it since the proposal was accepted, often some years previously! At the meeting we discuss and approve the title; make a final decision about the format (whether it will be published in paperback and hardback simultaneously) and approximate the print run.

With all of the above finalised, the Commissioning Editor is now ready to hand the book over for production and marketing. In order to make the handover process a smooth one and to help impart as much of their knowledge about the work to the rest of us as possible, they complete a handover sheet. The handover sheet splits naturally into three sections: key details about the work, then a production section, followed by marketing information.

The key details section is where we store absolute final information about the book, mainly what we decided on at the editorial meeting. It is where we look if we cannot remember whether we did decide to remove a comma from a title or exactly which subtitle we eventually chose! It is therefore like gold dust as it is vital that we are consistent, once we have made a decision: as soon as data starts to leave our database, it is sometime hard to find where it has gone and overwrite it.

Sarah, our Production Manager, hard at work

Next comes the production section where the Commissioning Editor will tell Sarah, our Production Manager, and Flo, who does the covers, information about the book. Sections include whether there is a preference for British or another variety of English; if the author already has a particular idea for the cover and if we have agreed anything special with the author, perhaps with regard to the layout or format. We also tell Sarah about what she might expect when working with the author. This includes things such as if one is taking the lead (in the case of multiple authors) or whether we know the author is about to go on leave. This is important as production runs to deadlines which are much firmer than those in editorial often are.

Finally comes the marketing parts of the handover. The Commissioning Editor writes the blurbs, suggests subject categories and says who to approach for cover endorsements. They will also advise the marketing department on the book’s highlights; note any geographical contexts featured in the book (which might be helpful for our local sales reps); list which of our other books it links with and state any other key selling points of the work. They will also let us know any bright ideas they have for any special, out-of-the-ordinary marketing!

We find that handing a manuscript over in this way works really well. Ultimately, the Commissioning Editor is the person in the office who knows most about the book and the more of their knowledge they can share with the rest of us, the more likely we are to have a smooth, enjoyable and successful publication.

Laura

Behind the Scenes… Marketing Your Book

Every month Laura and I sit down together to have a marketing meeting where we discuss books that are currently in production, are about to be published or have just been published. This is a chance for us to outline a bespoke marketing plan for each book and check up on its progress at key points throughout the publication process.

Shortly after a book goes into production, we have an initial meeting about it, in which we take a look at the documents filled out by the author and the commissioning editor (this is when the Author Questionnaire comes into its own!) and devise a personalised marketing plan for it. The commissioning editor will have pointed out the book’s unique features and flagged up anything else that might help us to market the book (does its publication coincide with a relevant day, e.g. World Heritage Day or is there a particular news story that ties in with the book’s content?)

The AQ is another source of valuable information to us at this point, as it contains details of relevant conferences, journals, blogs, newspapers, magazines and organisations that we can contact to spread news of the book’s publication. If you have any specific contacts, like a journalist for example, make sure you include this on your AQ, as it can be a challenge to successfully make contact with newspapers or magazines without one. In the past, the books which have had the most exposure have been the ones whose authors have given us plenty of ideas for publicising the book and have put us in touch with relevant people who will help to spread the word. When it comes to the media, local contacts should not be underestimated. It’s often local papers and magazines that will be most receptive to being contacted and – particularly if your book is of local interest – more likely to want to feature a piece about it. If you’re able to establish contact prior to the publication of your book, it will be easier for us to go back and notify them once the book comes out.

Our two Twitter pages on which we post tweets about books

At the end of the initial meeting, we outline a plan for the book and assign tasks to each of us. I deal with all the social media promotion (including arranging blog posts, publicising the book on Twitter and Facebook, posting any accompanying videos on our YouTube channel etc.), as well as contacting any media and organisations we think might be interested. This could be anything from print newspapers and magazines to blogs and online publications, as well as specific organisations with mailing lists who may be able to share publication news with their members. Meanwhile Laura takes care of areas such as conferences, book prizes and production of marketing materials like flyers.

Shortly before publication, we meet to discuss our progress. This interim meeting is more of a check-up meeting than an action one as we make sure that we have everything prepared ready to launch on publication. The timing of marketing can be key so it is important that we are all set in time for the book’s release. We might do things such as make sure that we have asked the author to write a piece for our blog, written a press release ready to send out on publication or made a list of suitable journals to offer the book to for review.

Finally, once a book is published we meet to discuss what we have done, what was successful and what was less so. We record all our efforts and eventually present an individual marketing report for each book to the rest of the team. This is done six months after publication when we also look at the early sales of the title. We are always interested to see if there is any correlation between ours and the author’s marketing efforts and the early reception a book gets.

If you have any ideas for marketing your book that aren’t here, make sure you get in touch as we’ll always do our best to make them happen!

Flo

How do we use social media to market our books?

We at Multilingual Matters/Channel View Publications are very active on social media and have built up substantial communities across all our accounts. We enjoy interacting with our authors, publishing contacts, readers and people with a broader interest in the topics on which we publish, and have strong followings on both Facebook and Twitter, with nearly 2,000 contacts across our Facebook pages and over 15,000 on our two Twitter accounts.

Social media has also become an integral part of our marketing campaign for each book that we publish. In the weeks and months leading up to and following a book’s publication, we in the marketing department use our various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, this blog and YouTube) to announce its publication and publicise it as much as possible. It’s the easiest and most effective way of getting news to lots of people at once and on top of that, it allows people to engage with and discuss our publications, both with us and amongst each other. Of course, social media doesn’t come at the expense of our traditional marketing strategies and we still follow usual marketing techniques such as catalogue mailings, email newsletters, sending information to the book trade, attending conferences and book fairs and so on, but it does offer something new and different to our marketing repertoire.

Commissioning editors with books published in January

When using social media to market a book, it’s a real advantage if we have an author who is active themselves on social media and can help us to spread the word. Authors are best placed to reach their book’s key audience as their own colleagues and peers are likely to be those interested in the research. We often find that some of our bestselling books are ones where the author hasn’t been afraid of get stuck in! For example, you could create a Facebook page for your book like our authors Christian W. Chun and Leanne White did, where you can keep people up to date with the book’s progress and share useful information and news, including the 50% preorder discount flyer we create for all our books. In addition, if there are any relevant events that tie in with your book’s publication, do let us know! For example, we’ve previously promoted Hongliang Yan’s book, Heritage Tourism in China, in conjunction with World Heritage Day. Facebook is also the main place where we post photos of office goings on, so your book may well end up in a photo like the one above of our commissioning editors with their books published in January. If you have any ideas for a relevant photo opportunity for your book, just let us know and we’ll see what we can do!

Twitter is a great place to get book news out to the right people, and we do try to “mention” relevant accounts with publication news where we can. If you have any ideas about popular hashtags used by the community you’re trying to reach or users who would be especially interested in your work, let us know on your AQ and we’ll include them in our marketing plans. Each of our books are assigned three or four tweets during the month following its publication giving a taster of what to expect from the book, and we also announce it on both Twitter and Facebook on publication day. By using relevant hashtags, the word about a new book gets out to people who might not have heard about it otherwise, and we often see people mentioning friends or colleagues with recommendations of our books.

We ask all our authors to write a piece about their book for our blog, which we schedule to coincide with its publication. This is a really good way to publicise the book and provide interested readers with a “behind the scenes” insight into how the book came about, giving authors a chance to sell their book beyond the blurb on our website. If you can send us photos or even videos to include in the post to grab readers’ attention, even better! We always announce new blog posts on Facebook and Twitter ourselves, but again, the braver authors are about sharing their post and telling the world about their work, the greater the number of views and the more engagement we see.

One of the videos to accompany Optimizing Language Learners’ Nonverbal Behavior

For those authors that are feeling especially creative, we also have a YouTube channel where we post videos authors have produced to accompany their book. For example, we recently posted a video by Wayne E. Wright and Colin Baker where they spoke about the latest edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism and one by Janet Enever and Eva Lindgren introducing their new book Early Language Learning. For their book, Optimizing Language Learners’ Nonverbal Behavior Tammy Gregersen and Peter MacIntyre produced a series of accompanying videos, such as “Say it with your Hands!”, all of which can be accessed on our YouTube channel. If you’d like to do something similar for the publication of your own book, just get in touch with us to discuss your ideas.

Nowadays social media is an invaluable tool for getting publication news out there, and we do our best to publicise your book as much as possible, but there’s no doubt that the more active the author is in promoting their book through their own channels, the better. So get Facebooking/Tweeting/Blogging/YouTubing!

Follow us on Twitter: @Multi_Ling_Mat / @Channel_View

Like our Facebook page: Multilingual Matters / Channel View Publications

Check out our YouTube channel

Channel View Team at London Book Fair 2017

Last month Sarah and Flo popped down to London for the day for the London Book Fair at Olympia. It’s always a good chance to meet and catch up with all our publishing contacts in one place and we see everyone from reps and ebook providers to distributors and designers.

Flo at London Book Fair 2017

After a pretty civilised 11am arrival, we had a bit of time to wander around and acclimatise to the hustle and bustle before meeting our UK distributor, NBNi. After a quick catch-up with Juliette Teague and Matt Devereux, there was time to grab some lunch before our meeting with Kelvin van Hasselt, our rep for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

Covers designed by Latte Goldstein at riverdesign

After our appointment with Kelvin, we were due to meet our new book cover designer, Latte Goldstein from riverdesign. After some confusion and a couple of incidents of walking past each other (it’s surprisingly difficult to get a proper look at people’s name badges!), we eventually managed to meet up and had a useful discussion about the current projects he’s working on for us. We now have two books in the pipeline whose covers have been designed by Latte, International Student Engagement in Higher Education by Margaret Kettle and Early Language Learning edited by Janet Enever and Eva Lindgren.

In the afternoon Flo went off to explore while Sarah had a meeting with Darren Ryan, the CEO of one of our suppliers for copy-editing and typesetting, Deanta Global. Darren was showcasing DeantaSource, their web-based project management portal, where authors can login and make corrections to the proof file. Another meeting followed with James Powell of ProQuest, one of the library ebook aggregators we distribute ebooks to. James was very happy that our ebooks are often distributed before the print book is available.

We then came back together for a meeting with Andrea Jacobs from our US distributor, NBN. It was nice to be able to put a face to a name you email on a regular basis and we had a good chat about our experience of moving over to a new distributor.

Our dedicated and diligent Production Manager

With all our meetings over, we went to the IPG drinks reception where we fought our way through the crowds to the stand of our database provider, Stison, to have a quick catch-up with them and take advantage of a great photo opportunity (see right!). When the drinks had run out, there was just time for dinner with one of our printers, CPI, before we caught the train back to Bristol. We look forward to seeing everyone again at London Book Fair 2018!

Goodbye (for now) to Elinor!

Today is a sad but exciting day in the Channel View office as we say goodbye (for now) and good luck to Elinor, who is going on maternity leave. Elinor has been working at Channel View for nearly 12 years and has, amongst many other duties, been responsible for managing this blog since its inception in 2011. In this post, we find out about the work she’s done at Channel View over the past 12 years and what she’s going to miss most about working here.

How has your job changed over time, from when you first started to now?

Elinor's early days at Channel View
Elinor’s early days at Channel View

I started in a 6 month maternity cover position in 2005 and my first role was PA to the sales and marketing department. My main jobs were answering the phone, sending out books and general admin. Over the years I have taken on more responsibilities and I became marketing manager and part of the management team in 2008. Since then Laura and Flo have joined the marketing team and between them will be handling all the marketing while I’m on maternity leave.

What’s your favourite part of your job now?

It’s always lovely to get positive feedback from an author when their book is published and they say how pleased they are with their book and how much they have enjoyed working with us. I also enjoy having personal contact with all of our authors throughout the process and working with them to market their book.

What are you happiest to be handing over?

I find the twice yearly catalogues quite time-consuming, especially if it’s a busy time of year, so I won’t miss working on those. I will also be happy not to be dealing with the daily deluge of emails which come flooding in!

Any top tips for a new marketeer?

It’s always great to encourage authors to get really involved with the marketing of their book. Some of our most successful titles are ones where the authors have had great ideas and utilised their own networks and contacts to market the book as well as using social media to get the word out to their colleagues. However, I’m sure that the marketing will be in capable hands with Laura and Flo while I’m away and that they don’t need any tips!

What will you miss most about the office?

I will miss our Friday lunches and all the gossip from the office! But hopefully I will manage to pop in and catch up with everyone while I’m on maternity leave. Some of us have worked together for over 11 years so it will be very odd not to see everyone every day. I will miss the conversations about The Archers, orienteering, Manchester United, the royal family, cake, netball, Disney films and Dawlish which are all important topics in the Channel View office!

We'll miss you!

We’ll miss you! Good luck and make sure you pop in to visit us soon!

While Elinor is on maternity leave, Laura and Flo will be covering her marketing responsibilities and Sarah will be acting commissioning editor for the Aspects of TourismAspects of Tourism Texts and Tourism Essentials series.

We’re Winners of an Award for Excellence!

Elinor and Laura celebrating our achievement
Elinor and Laura celebrating our achievement

We are delighted to announce that we have recently been awarded with a BIC Product Data Excellence Award. This is a book publishing industry award that denotes how well we submit information about our books to the book trade. Publishers are scored both on how complete their data is and the timeliness of its delivery to the industry.

While it may not seem like the most exciting of awards, it is actually very important. With good information book buyers find it much easier to discover and order books, which makes their job quicker and results in more book sales and greater reach for our authors’ work. The data required is extensive and ranges from the very obvious, such as title and price, to information such as the exact weight of an individual book.

We have spent many of our spare moments and long afternoons over the past year manually entering the data for very old titles into our database (and even doing things such as weighing books from the archive!), while also ensuring that all new titles meet very tight data deadlines. It has been a long and arduous process, fuelled by lots of tea and biscuits, but we are very happy that 99.93% of our books now have complete records (the missing 0.07% are sadly so old we don’t even have a print copy in our office archive) and we always easily hit the 80% timeliness quota.

There are over 750 publishers in the UK, so to be one of only 29 with an Excellence Award, and to be in the same category as household names such as Penguin is very satisfying (you can see the full list of publishers with awards here). We may only be a small publisher but we are proud to be ranked for data as highly as many big publishers and even better than many others. Needless to say, our ambitions haven’t stopped with Excellence and we’re already in discussions about what we can do to be promoted to the Excellence Plus top category!

How to choose a good book title

Picking a good title for an academic book is vital for getting your work seen by other researchers in your field. Good academic titles reveal not only the topic but also an idea of the specific approach, argument or area of discussion. This post provides a helpful guide to choosing a title for your academic monograph.

First of all, remember that keywords are crucial. Think about the key terms you use throughout your work and make sure they’re included in the title. Make sure these keywords are also used throughout the book, in chapter headings and in the book blurbs.

Think about what search terms people would use if they were searching for your book and make sure you include these. Start by googling your potential title. If there are not many results this might mean that the terms you are using are not in common usage and therefore are best avoided. However, if there are many results be sure to check that there are no other books, papers or journals with the same title as yours as this will only cause confusion. In short, you want to get an idea of whether people are already searching for the keywords you’re using. Make sure the results that come up in your search are in the right discipline.

There is a difference between the main title and the subtitle. Sometimes books are only cited by the main title not the subtitle so make sure you’re not hiding any key information in the subtitle. The subtitle can contain more specific information such as the region or the kind of approach used which is not essential to the overall topic of the book. The specifics of the context, the precise languages covered or the specific participants of the study can be detailed in the blurb and the book. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in the title of the book.

Use clear and concise language to describe the topic of the book. Don’t use obscure academic terminology or jargon which isn’t widely known in the field. Remember, booksellers are not always experts in your field so the title needs to be clear to those who only have a broad understanding of the topic. Equally, if you’re coining a new term or phase in your book, it might be best to avoid using this in the main title as it won’t be known to many people and they won’t use it as a search term to find the book. Avoid using a clever or funny phrase as a title. Although it might mean something to you, out of context it won’t mean anything to anyone else and it won’t accurately convey the content of the book. Many people think an alliterative or quirky title is more appealing but really this is not appropriate for an academic audience and it is best to just focus on making the content clear.

Remember that the book title is sometimes the only thing a potential reader will see before making a decision as to whether to find out more. Make sure it is attractive to researchers in your field without being misleading or ambiguous. There’s so much research out there you want to make yours memorable so that readers realise it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Good book titles
Examples of good book titles

Good examples of academic book titles:

  • Complexity in Classroom Foreign Language Learning Motivation: A Practitioner Perspective from Japan – This displays the overall topic as well as the specifics of the author’s context.
  • Multilingual Perspectives on Child Language Disorders –This clearly depicts the area covered and the perspectives taken.
  • The Linguistic Landscape of Chinatown: A Sociolinguistic Ethnography – As well as a clear main title, the subtitle here clarifies the approach taken.

Bad examples of academic book titles:

  • Language and Society – This is too broad and does not show what aspects of language and society are being explored.
  • Discover, Discuss, Debate: Investigating Language Use in the Multilingual Classroom – Although the main title might sound snappy and appealing it actually tells you nothing about the book and in fact, the subtitle would make a much better main title.

Key tips

  • Use as many keywords as possible in the title, preferably ones that you have also used throughout the book.
  • Think about the search terms that potential readers would use when searching for your book and include those in the title.
  • You need to remember that sometimes all the information a potential reader will have about your book is the title. If that isn’t enough to sell it, you’ve missed your chance.
  • Don’t use obscure or incomprehensible language or technical jargon.
  • Don’t be vague, anything with multiple meanings that could be misconstrued or misunderstood should be avoided.