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I am writing a textbook serving a very niche field.

There was one textbook for the subject area, but its fallen out of print 10 years ago, and I think the info is 30 years out-of-date. I found the author was heavily biased, hasn't kept up with the recent research, and the design no longer appeals to the audience of young students aged 10-12. They leave out tons of material I feel is important for the audience to know, and contain entire chapters of details now proven to be false.

I'm writing what I feel could be a solid replacement for that book. It is a completely different, original textbook, but also workbook, lesson plans, activities for teachers, a whole kit basically.

This publisher seems the best one for the field. They are the #1 publisher for the subject area, in fact, 50% of my sources are academic books published by them, and based on the past releases of the competing textbook, they know how to get it out and into every school that teaches the subject as well as deal with the state governments to make the book the official textbook in public schools.

My concern is, is there some problem approaching a publisher with my manuscript, when it essentially is competes with something they stopped publishing? Is it better to instead find some competing publisher?

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  • Is it common to write a textbook on your own initiative, without already having agreed a deal for it? Jan 21 at 20:41
  • I see that there are only 24 hours left on your bounty (the grace period). What type of answer were you looking for? Feedback would be helpful to improve my answer.
    – Nai45
    Feb 4 at 19:18
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NO! New editions or competing books are necessary to keep sales going. But only if there is still a market. K12 schools change styles and your subject may be out of favor now.

Your title and the OP seem to contradict each other. Did you write the original book and are updating it or are you going to query the publisher to see if they are interested in a new book on the subject?

Note that most textbooks sell to students who have to buy them for classes. For K12 school boards or other govt entities would buy them. Is that subject still being taught? Is it taught widely enough that there would be a sufficient audience to justify a printing at all?

You should look at every publisher before you give up. I would start with the original publisher as they have sold that topic before.

Also, learn how to query a publisher and write a document that sells you and your book along with the other things publishers care about.

What is the subject and what makes you an expert that they trust to write the book? Do you have other writing experience to help give them warm fuzzies?

Like -DMwithsecrets noted you should not write the book until they want it but do write the sales document including an outline and sample chapter. Caveat: check their website for exactly what they want in a book proposal and do exactly that.

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  • Yes, there still is a market. It is legally required that students take the subject within my state and that is unlikely to change. The other author stopped updating their book and no longer conforms to state requirements. My book will match those.
    – Village
    Jan 22 at 3:27
  • What is the problem writing the book first? I don't have any way to prove to the publisher I can do this...other than showing them the book. I do have a BA in the subject area. I also more or less finished 5 random chapters from it.
    – Village
    Jan 22 at 3:27
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    You could write the whole book and find no publisher interested. Better to do a book proposal with the ideas laid out and get the publisher to say go ahead than to write it and then they say no and you lose all that work.
    – pro writer
    Jan 22 at 16:02
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    If there is a market then there must be other books already filling the need if the state requires that subject be taught. You will have the problem of competing against existing resources filling the need. Why is yours better? How can it be sold if the state likes the other one(s) already?
    – pro writer
    Jan 22 at 16:05
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No, you should publish it! If something is out of date there is nothing wrong with publishing a new updated version. It's always good to have an updated version. If the publisher you want published the old version, but is the #1 publisher in that area, there's nothing wrong with using them. You may want to make sure they want your book first though, by laying out a basic plan of your book for them.

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I think you should definitely publish it. New edition books are kinda necessary to keep the world moving. Let's just think about it, if you don't write this book, and you get out of school and get a job or whatever, what's the next generation going to do? They might still be learning out of that very same textbook that's spreading outdated information.

So yeah, I think you should absolutely write a newer version of their textbooks.

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There was one textbook for the subject area, but it's fallen out of print 10 years ago, and I think the info is 30 years out-of-date. I found the author was heavily biased, hasn't kept up with the recent research, and the design no longer appeals to the audience of young students aged 10-12. They leave out tons of material I feel is important for the audience to know, and contain entire chapters of details now proven to be false.

Seeing the above paragraph, I would absolutely recommend publishing your textbook, and I think the publisher would agree.

If the market is good, your textbook is accurate, and the previous textbook was that biased/poorly written/etc, the publisher of the older textbook would gladly publish it for you. They might already be looking for a textbook they could publish to replace the inaccurate textbook at this very moment. What I would do would be to gather proof that the previous textbook was wrong, and how yours is much better in order to create a compelling argument in favor of your textbook.

This publisher seems the best one for the field. They are the #1 publisher for the subject area, in fact...

If they are the top publisher, go to them first. I would suggest contacting them soon to ask about availability. If you are denied (which I doubt you will be), you can easily go to a competing publisher who would be happy to publish a textbook that would replace their competitor's incorrect one.

Either way, you should have no problem with publishing your textbook.

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