Once you have narrowed down a list of presses that you are interested in, consult their websites to find out which editor is acquiring in your field. Most presses have a staff page that indicates the acquiring editor for each of their fields. For example, the University of Illinois Press has a Staff Directory that lists each editor’s fields and series. Once you have a list of editors, there are several ways that you might approach them.
- Email: The most likely way that you might approach an editor is via email. Editors are used to being approached by potential authors, so it is appropriate to email an editor even if you don’t know them. I recommend introducing them to your project with a brief description to see if your project fits into their current interests. You might also attach a proposal if you have one available, or any other documents that their website might ask for.
- Introduction: If you know someone who has worked with an editor who looks like a good fit for your project, it can be helpful to seek out an introduction, either in person at a conference or virtually via email.
- Conference: If you attend the same conference as an editor you are interested in working with, stop by and introduce yourself. Editors often have meetings scheduled throughout the day, so it is best to stop by either early, when the booth first opens, or before it closes in the evening. You might also stop by during a book signing or reception. Better yet, if you want to have a longer conversation, reach out a month or two before the conference to book an appointment. You can book an appointment even if you have not yet begun to revise your dissertation.
- Series editor: In some cases, you might be interested in a series and know the outside editor, called a series editor. It can be useful to approach the press through the series editor, as projects often need to have support from these editors in order to make it into the series. However, even if the series editor isn’t interested, the acquiring editor might be interested in publishing your book outside the series.