30 ways to get ahead in ELT publishing

Summary: Tips for getting an advantage in the very competitive field of writing about English language teaching.

In no particular order:

1. Have lots of contacts. For example, keep in touch with your TEFL contacts such as people who study on the same course as you, as some of them will be future authors and editors

2. Have an impressive and ELT publishing-specific LinkedIn page, with lots of relevant contacts

3. Be low maintenance in your contacts with publishers, e.g. not double checking everything and absolutely always keeping to deadlines (even when the publishers stop contacting you or miss their own deadlines)

4. Write in an accessible way, e.g. for people with limited English or without specific cultural or TEFL knowledge, even when contacting publishers

5. Do your own illustrations, or find someone who can do them (but making it clear that using those illustrations is completely optional)

6. Need no editing (for example because you have lots of proofreading experience)

7. Specialise, but also have a wide range of experience

8. Get platforms by which you can publicise the thing you publish, e.g. get many Twitter followers, start a TEFL blog and make it well known and popular, and be a well-trusted source of advice on TEFL forums

9. Have a name that will be familiar to publishers/ customers – see above, but also giving workshops

10. Interact with publishers as much as you can and as many ways as you can, e.g. send them copies of your published reviews of their books, volunteer for pre-publication reviewing, give workshops at events that they are involved in and chat to them between workshops, and request sample copies for your school

11. Have a great CV – see above and also teacher training experience, relevant qualifications, working for well-known and well-respected chains of schools, writing outside TEFL, positions of responsibility such as on the board of your local chapter of TESOL, language level, and being an examiner

12. Be persistent without getting annoying

13. Show your familiarity with materials which compete with yours

14. Be someone the publishers want to impress and work with, e.g. an important contact in a large chain of schools that can give them lots of orders or the editor of a publication they would like good publicity from

15. Always have a few (extra) publishing proposals or ideas up your sleeve

16. Show your tech-savvy, e.g. by writing articles on ed-tech topics

17. Be visible in places where publishers notice, especially magazines and big conferences in their country

18. Work for a publisher for a while – even if it is a smaller publisher, just as a sales rep, or is in non-ELT publishing

19. Be responsible for choosing/ buying books, e.g. for a chain of schools

20. Have a clear idea of both the ideal person to use your materials and the (many) other people it could be useful for

21. Think carefully about how your materials could be marketed, mentioning that in you contacts with publishers

22. Mention ELT publishing as much as possible, e.g. on your LinkedIn profile and on your business card

23. Sprinkle your business cards around

24. Get involved in publishers’ websites, e.g. submitting lesson plans to go on their sites

25. Send book proposals, but mainly so that they consider you for other projects (mentioning your keenness for such things in the accompanying email)

26. Work in a school with contacts, e.g. where some of the teachers or managers are authors or which are involved in pre-publication testing

27. Have a qualification in ELT materials writing, e.g. an MA or the course from ELTTeacher2Writer

28. Have original ideas, but also be prepared to work on unoriginal projects

29. Have experience of editing and being edited

30. Have experience of writing to deadlines for a specific audience

Copyright © 2013

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com

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