Writing for the Public: What Makes a Successful Trade History Book

AHA Session 294
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Gibson Suite (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Wendy J. Strothman, Strothman Agency, LLC
Raymond Arsenault, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg
David Ebershoff, Random House
Caitlin A. Fitz, Northwestern University
Deanne Urmy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Session Abstract

What makes a successful trade history book?  Moderated by an agent who specializes in history and serious non-fiction, two veteran editors will discuss the elements of trade books with a scholar who has written an award-winning university press book and prominent trade book and a younger scholar publishing her first book with a trade house.   What are the differences between trade and scholarly publishing?  What are the pros and cons of each path? 

How should historians approach a subject that might appeal to general readers?  What is the role of argument in a trade book?  What is the role of imagination?  Can a trade book advance scholarship in the same way as a university press title?  What goes into writing a trade book?  What is the role of a trade editor?  How does the submission process work?  If you are interested in writing for the trade, how do you prepare yourself?  What goes into a winning proposal?

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