Amy Lankester-Alen knows what’s popular right now, and has some tips for budding authors.
Teachers are time poor. They look for clear, practical, accessible books that they can dive straight into and apply to their own setting. Equally, many parents will turn to specialist publishers when in need of advice, support or information that is relevant to their own family and its needs, Publishers are also seeing more and more that lived experience must be at the heart of publishing, for instance around autism and other neurodivergent identities, as it is such an important source of insights. This might include, for example, books about learning from autistic teachers, or the experiences of growing up with dyslexia, dyspraxia and its impact on life experiences.
Publishers are also seeing an increased take up of resources about emotional based school avoidance and homeschooling for neurodivergent pupils, and a growing interest in intersections, for instance being black and dyslexic or being autistic and LGBTQIA+.
We are always interested to hear about new book ideas from aspiring authors in the SEN field. We do have particular topics we are currently interested in publishing more on, such as school avoidance, racism and racial trauma, and books for older neurodivergent kids and tweens about navigating friendships. We have a ‘Submissions’ portal on our website in the Write for Us section, which prospective authors can use to submit a proposal, or you can email the editor most suited to your subject area with your initial concept.
The time it takes from the initial idea to publication varies hugely. Once an author’s idea and approach for a book is firmed up, we would review the project via a series of internal meetings, and decide whether to officially contract the project. If we formally signed up a project, it might take something between six months and two years for an author to write their book (depending on their other commitments, as authors may also be busy practitioners. It then takes JKP 12 months to edit, typeset and print the book.
Once a book is published, there’s a lot of work to do making sure it gets out there to the readers who need it. An author who has a strong platform to market their book from, for instance through their social media network, or training they run, will have a stronger chance of getting published.
My top tips for getting published would be: know your field. Read around in magazines like this to see what’s topical, and dig deep into what’s most talked about at the moment at your school, then see if there’s a book out there already to address that issue. If there isn’t, then someone needs to write it! Figure out what your own strengths are and your unique areas of expertise, and apply those to what you write. Get a friend or colleague to read over your materials before you send them to us. And read. Note down things you like about how other authors have approached similar topics, so you can apply them in your own book. Good luck. We’d love to hear from you with your book ideas!
Amy Lankester-Owen is Editorial Director at JKP, overseeing JKP's Children's, and Inclusive Teaching and Learning publishing.