For Prospective Authors
Writing a Rosenfeld Media Book
Thanks for thinking about writing a book with Rosenfeld Media! We’re a small publishing house that collaborates closely with its authors to develop and promote books on user experience design and related topics. We typically publish between four and six books annually, and we lavish each title with tender loving care throughout the processes of writing, production, and promotion.
Writing a book is a difficult, time-consuming, and occasionally painful undertaking. Even proposals are a lot of work! So, like the rabbis who turn away prospective converts at least twice before saying yes, we’re going to encourage you to give this a lot of thought before committing. Start by asking your loved ones if they can cope with having quite a bit less of you in their lives for a good year or two. Then, before you do anything else, read the rest of this page.
What We’re Looking to Publish
Most of our books cover user experience design principles, tools, and methods. UX is a broad field that synthesizes ideas from many disciplines—from architecture to graphic design to human factors to librarianship—with the goal of helping people use and enjoy their experiences with all kinds of products and services. Our UX books teach craft and actionable skills to designers, researchers, writers, and other people who care about delivering great user experiences. These books tend toward practical advice: a rule of thumb is 25% “what and why” content, and 75% “how” content.
As UX is becoming increasingly critical to business success, we recently introduced a new imprint, Two Waves Books, that explores the convergence of business and design. These books make the design world’s big ideas accessible to a growing audience interested in learning more about how design can help them address common personal and business challenges.
In all cases, we emphasize a house writing style of warmth and accessibility. Through the use of plain language and a conversational tone, and an emphasis on stories and examples, our authors serve as “trusted guides” rather than authoritative experts.
Our books tend to be short (our sweet spot is 45,000-70,000 words) and rely on illustrations to make for a more enlightening reading experience. We publish an annual article describing the topics we’re hoping to sign in the coming year. And we prefer topics that are “evergreen”: while some of their examples might be especially current, each book’s principles and frameworks should stand the test of at least a few years’ time.
What We Avoid Publishing
Never say never, but we generally avoid publishing books that are:
- On topics we’ve addressed in a recent book. We avoid covering the same topics twice in the space of a few years; it’s simply not fair to our authors. Please review what we’ve published or are planning to publish and make sure we don’t already offer a recent book on your topic.
- Already written. Most publishers love receiving a manuscript that’s “ready to go.” We’re not one of those publishers. We prefer to pool your ideas with ours about the topic, its audience, your research, and the writing and production of the book. If you’ve already written a manuscript, it’s actually more work for us to produce your book.
- Compilations written by multiple authors. Regardless of how good the editor is at herding cats, compilations often suffer from uneven coverage, voice, tone, and quality.
- Repackaged blog entries. “Writing short” can be a good way to test your ideas and content in public, and it can get you part of the way toward a full manuscript. But a book is more than the sum of its parts; you’ll still need to make significant changes to your individual entries before they work together as a book.
- Based on a proprietary process or method. You or your company may do uniquely brilliant work, but will other people be able to repeat it simply by reading your book? Given that you’re the only person familiar with it, will anyone else take the idea seriously?
What’s Different about Our Approach
- We’re in this together. We work with you from the very start—developing your idea into a proposal, your proposal into an initial draft, and your draft into a beautiful, well-written book. Throughout the process, you’ll work closely with our publisher, editors, and marketers. If you’d prefer to go away and write your book in a garret, we’re probably not the right publisher for you.
- Research equals promotion. Collaboration goes beyond you and us. We’ll work together to engage influencers, subject matter experts, and the broader community with your ideas with two goals in mind: to help you improve your content, and to give them a sense of and stake in the final outcome. The more people who feel a part of your book’s development, the more who will support and promote it once it launches.
- We invest, you invest. We assign a developmental editor to each book. They work with you as a writing coach/project manager to get you through the process. And our marketing team works directly with you from development through launch. Both of these things are rare in our industry. In return, we expect you to be an equal partner in creating and launching your book—not just writing it but working hard to promote it.
- Speak with, not to readers. We want the world to be a better place thanks to your ideas and expertise. So we work with our authors to avoid jargon and other forms of poor communication that can get in the way of our readers learning from our books.
- We don’t play favorites. Our books receive an equal amount of editorial and marketing support, and all are consistently produced to meet our uncommonly high quality standards. If we’ve signed you, we are about you as much as any other author.
Other Stuff to Know
- Business terms. We pay royalties twice annually on net sales (the money left over after production and printing costs are covered). Our royalty rates are typically higher than the industry standard. We don’t pay advances.
- Book formats. Our paperbacks are 6” x 9” (15.24cm x 22.86cm), and are printed on high-quality paper with four-color covers and interiors. Our ebooks come in three DRM-free digital formats: ePUB (for iPads), MOBI (for Kindles), and DAISY (for people with impaired vision).
- Distribution. We sell directly via our website and fulfill orders globally. We also sell via Amazon and via retailers and wholesalers that do business with Ingram Publisher Services.
- Covers. We’re glad to have your input, but the final design up to us. We’ve worked with the acclaimed design team from The Heads of State to develop each of our covers.
What Happens Next
Ready to pitch your idea? Great!
Unless you have a fully fleshed-out book proposal to share, please complete our one-page “pre-proposal” (details here). It’s short, but it’s not easy: your challenge is to communicate the essence and value of your idea—and your voice and tone—within some tight constraints.
If we’re interested, we’ll work with you to grow your pre-proposal into a more formal proposal (with a writing sample). We’ll ask a few industry experts we know to provide feedback, which we’ll then share with you. If your proposal successfully jumps through all these hoops, we’ll send you a contract. Then the real fun begins.
As you might imagine, we receive a lot of proposals. We do our best to review them at least once per quarter. Please keep that in mind if you don’t hear from us right away. And if you decide to go in another direction, please let us know.
PS You might find this writing advice from the Rosenfeld Media editorial team useful, whether or not you publish with us: voice and tone for UX books, how to develop your book’s structure, and ways to stay on track while writing your book.