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Thursday, February 08, 2018

Why Do You Want to Write a Book?

Law professors are known to write a lot. Plenty of us decide to write books. We mostly write casebooks, workbooks, supplements and non-fiction. I decided to write a non-fiction book, but I’m shooting for the educated, lay audience. I landed a contract with Goldfarb & Associates, the same agency that represents Bernie Sanders. All the big publishers read my work, but my area of expertise happens to have one crowded bookshelf. I didn’t land a big publisher. So, I decided to go with an academic press right in my back yard, University Press of Kentucky. I learned so much about the book publishing business and thought it might be helpful to prawfs to hear about it. But, the first thing you need to ask yourself is: “Why do you want to write a book?” Let me know in the comments so I can try to help this month!

Posted by Jen Kreder on February 8, 2018 at 11:14 AM | Permalink


As my father says you should write only then if can't not to write.

Posted by: Ina Smith | Sep 7, 2020 6:07:33 AM

Josh, congrats on the contract and good luck with the manuscript!

Posted by: Jen Kreder | Feb 13, 2018 7:34:48 PM

Looking forward to hearing your experiences! I am represented by Kneerim & Williams and landed a publishing deal with Prometheus Books for my book on positive voting rights expansions. My goal is really to reach the educated, civically-minded lay reader. I'm currently in the writing stage (manuscript due Sept 1!). It would be great to compare notes and learn from your experience.

Posted by: Josh Douglas | Feb 11, 2018 10:21:52 AM

Thanks for the input, junior TY prof! I’ll start addressing your questions tomorrow!

Posted by: Jen Kreder | Feb 8, 2018 8:24:30 PM

Thanks for doing this, I've had questions about the subject. I would like to write a book at some point. Here are some questions I have.

1. I always hear to wait till after tenure if you're not in a discipline (like legal history) for which books are the coin of the realm. But if you've gotten clearance internally or have simply already satisfied your tenure requirement in terms of writing, is there any reason to wait?

2. Why a book? I'm interested in writing a book to reach two types of audiences that don't read law review articles: experts in fields related to the subject of the book who are not lawyers, and laypeople. Structuring my thoughts as a book seems like it offers more flexibility in several respects. First, of course, the writing can be longer and more detailed. But also, it needn't hew slavishly to the law or the law review format. Its primary relevance needn't be to law or legal academics. And it can include pictures, charts, and a less formal writing style - all technically possible in a law review format, but less likely to succeed in the placement game or replicate well in Westlaw.

3. Let's be real, it would be fun to publish a book and go around giving talks to non-legal and even non-academic audiences about the book. At least this is how I envision publishing a first book. This isn't a major motivation, of course. I view it the same way some aspiring artist out there is thinking about showing their work in a cool gallery one day.

I welcome any thoughts.

Posted by: junior TT prof | Feb 8, 2018 3:30:19 PM

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