Our mission at Publish Your Purpose Press (PYP) is to discover and publish authors who are striving to make a difference in the world. We give underrepresented voices power and a stage to share their stories, speak their truth, and impact their communities. Our purpose and mission is to elevate and amplify the voices of others.
Debunking The Textbooks Only Myth
One of the biggest myths about marketing to universities and colleges is that you have to have written a textbook in order to be competitive in the eyes of professors or departments. While it is true that a good chunk of a student’s required reading for the semester will be your run of the mill textbooks, oftentimes students will also be asked to purchase additional books for their classes that lay outside the realm of a cinder block sized course summary. Many professors will add a nonfiction book or memoir to their curriculum if they want to give a deeper dive into a particular aspect of the material, or they think their students would benefit from reading about real world examples and experiences. And unlike with textbooks, most professors do not have to choose from a set list of titles that are previously handpicked by the university; they have the ability to consider and look for books from outside authors.
Truthfully, not having a textbook can be a blessing in disguise when it comes to finding a place for your book in the college and university marketplace. Having a textbook locks you into one specific field of study and maybe even one specific class, while having a book with a broader overarching theme can allow you to cross boundaries into multiple concentrations and departments. For example, a book with new ideas about how to conduct Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training (DEI) can be applied to a number of different courses and topics. It could be used in a Community Health course to illustrate ways to reduce health disparities for patients when they seek healthcare. It could be used in an Education class to spark discussion about how to teach children from a young age to recognize and respect each other’s identities and backgrounds. It could be used in a Psychology class that focuses on the role of implicit bias in daily interactions or studies the psychology behind discrimination. There are a lot of ways your one book can be educational to multiple different audiences across a university, it is just a matter of being creative and taking the time to ruminate about where the bigger themes of your book overlap with the learning objectives of a department or course.
Why Your Book Should Be Included at a College or University
In the world of writing, the amount of monthly revenue an author will receive from their book sales can be unpredictable. A rare exception to the rule is when a professor or guest lecturer decides to add your book to their curriculum. Getting your book onto a required reading list for a college course means having a new guaranteed group of people buying your book every couple of months when a new semester begins. If you form a partnership with one or more professors, you’ll get a consistent flow of income that doesn’t require you to be constantly promoting and marketing in order to receive.
Sharing your book with college students can also be an investment that will continue to benefit you and your business beyond just the semester they spend reading your book in class. If a student is inspired by your story or really believes in what you do, they might become a loyal customer of your business or may be on the lookout to purchase your next book. College students are an amazing audience to connect with because they are just at the beginning of their careers and adult lives. Introducing yourself and your work to them at such an early time in their professional lives could mean that you have them in your network for multiple decades. Who knows, they may head their own business one day and want to work with you on a project or hire you as a consultant.
4 Steps To Finding People and Institutions To Send Your Book To
1. Do your research
While originally it might seem like a good idea to cast a wide net and contact as many people/institutions as possible, the secret to finding a long-term home for your book at a university is specificity and thoughtfulness. It is logical to assume that the more people you email, the more people that will add their book to their curriculum and become a steady source of income for you. However, in reality, you may not find a single person who will decide to take on your work if you are focusing on the quantity over quality of your marketing techniques. Professors put a lot of time and effort into developing a syllabus that maximizes their student’s learning, so they won’t be interested in trying to rework their plans to accommodate a book or person they know very little about. Researching their class and having a general idea of where your book might fit into the curriculum automatically lets a professor know that you are genuinely interested in what they study and also tells them that you are also dedicated to making their course the best it could possibly be. The less automated and general you sound, the easier it will be for professors to see you as a real human being they would want to connect with and help.
2. Reach Out To Your Network
The first place to start looking for a partnership at a university is within your own network of people. Suggesting your book to someone you know can be a great opportunity because they may already be familiar with your work/business and may also already be familiar with your personality and dedicated work ethic. If you already have a specific person in mind you can reach out to them directly. However, if you are unaware of any glaring links in your network to an academic institution, you can also write a post on any of your social media platforms asking for help. The post can just be a few sentences on LinkedIn or Facebook describing the content of the book itself and your search for a person/place to teach it at a university level. If no one from within your network is the right person or can’t think of someone they know off the top of their head, you can ask your family, friends, and colleagues to write a post to their own networks looking for people who might be interested.
3. Narrow Your Google Searches
When you have exhausted the different branches of your network, you can begin searching for certain universities and professors themselves. As previously mentioned, it is possible to market your book towards people from various departments and fields of study. However, when selecting the universities you want to contact, the best place to start are institutions that have the program or class that is the closest fit for the topics in your book. For example, even though you can market your hypothetical DEI book towards an introduction to Community Health class at pretty much any university, a quick Google search will tell you that there is an even better fit for your book at Simmons University’s Leadership for Social Impact Program; in order to receive accreditation for that minor, students are required to take an entire course on DEI. When looking for a university that matches your book’s particular area of interest, you can simply type into any search engine: “Universities with Political Science Majors/minors.” Or if you want to get even more specific, you can add more keywords that align with the more concentrated messages of your book. For example, you could write: “Universities that have social justice and community organization majors/minors.”
Deciding which of the universities to contact is really just a matter of best fit and personal interest. If a university or college isn’t as critically acclaimed as some of the others, but has a class or professor you’re really excited about, then you should make that school your priority. It is important to remember to only choose a manageable amount of people to reach out to because the more you spread yourself thin, the less you’ll be able to tailor your notes to professors to contain a unique enthusiasm for their course.
4. Collect Contact Information
When you have picked the universities with staff you want to reach out to, you should try to find the contact information for the people you are interested in working with. Most schools have a user-friendly website that will allow you to find the email addresses or phone numbers for all of the active members of the faculty based on their department. For example, you can simply type: “Clark University Psychology Major” into your search engine and it will take you to their homepage where they have hyperlinked the name of every psychology professor to include descriptions of what their specific area of study is, while also adding their contact information below.
3 Sequential Steps For Marketing Yourself To A Professor Once You Have Found A University
1. Write a Personal and Informative Introductory Email
Once you have selected a handful of professors or people within the department to contact, the next step is reaching out and making a good first impression. Remember that professors will want to see that you have really thought about how your book can improve their class and add to their students’ learning experience. When writing your email, it is important to include details from what you have read about that specific course or the major in order to demonstrate you have taken the time to get to know their work. In your introduction, you should also include information about your professional experience and why you are qualified to write a book on the topic, a short summary of the book itself, and an overview on where you think your book can fit into their coursework.
If you already have a supplemental workbook or collection of handouts that go along with your book, you could easily choose a couple of questions or activities from those resources and send them along with your introductory email. These examples can give a professor an idea of what kind of takeaways are supposed to come from the work, while also demonstrating that the book has the ability to start group conversations and get the readers thinking.
2. Send Them a Copy of Your Book
You can also offer to send them a free copy of your book (paperback or ebook) so they can get a sense of your writing style and the quality of book their students would be receiving. If they respond wanting a paperback, you should treat the delivery of the free copy as another chance at making a positive impression. Even though Amazon’s two day shipping is painfully tempting, you should wrap the book with your own hands and send it with your own packaging. If you do it yourself, you can guarantee that the book will arrive presentable and undamaged on the desk of the professor you are trying to work with. In addition, you should include a handwritten thank you note just reiterating how much you appreciate them taking the time to go over and consider what you’ve written. If a professor is deliberating between your book and someone else’s, going the extra mile on thoughtfulness when sending your copy can make all of the difference.
3. Think of Creative Ways to Fit Your Book Into Their Curriculum
One more way you can help persuade a professor to add your book to their curriculum is by offering to give a brief talk to their class or to host a Q&A session about the book at some time during the semester. Having an author come to class would be a cool experience for the students, and will also give them the opportunity to hear first person accounts of what it is like to find one’s path within the field. One silver lining of the pandemic is the fact that virtual platforms have allowed us to take meetings with people from practically anywhere in the world, so if you have the time in your schedule to pop into a few hour long Zoom sessions throughout the year, they could be a great cherry on top to float by the person you are trying to market your book to.
The occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a prominent reminder of the unpredictability of life and how easily the events of the world can dictate the success of one’s business. Even though it might not be able to be your sole source of income, establishing your book in one or more classes will provide you with a regular and expected amount of money to give you some peace of mind. In addition to having some extra financial stability, having a hand in educating college students can be an incredibly rewarding experience; you could be inspiring the students who will go on to be the future of your field.
About PYP Founder/CEO, Jenn T. Grace
Jenn T. Grace is a nationally recognized business strategist, speaker, and award-winning author. Guided by the mantra, “Change happens in business,” Jenn believes social change happens first in the workplace before spilling over into mainstream society. She has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.
Jenn passionately believes the more raw and real we can be—the deeper the connections we can experience. This drives her fierce commitment to bring voice to the invisible stories that free people from their isolation.
She is committed to giving underrepresented voices power and a stage to share their stories, speak their truth, and impact their communities. She is the Founder of Publish Your Purpose Press, a publishing company that includes the PYP Academy, with programs that teach aspiring authors how to publish their books. In addition to publishing 60+ books that share the stories of others, Jenn has written six, including her memoir, House on Fire (September 2020).
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