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Authoring Instructional Material 
 
We appreciate your interest in becoming an author for ATP. Our mission is to publish instructional material that “minimizes barriers to comprehension.” This document is designed to help guide you in the initial stages of the publishing process. Over the years, we have worked with many authors in developing high-quality instructional material. It is our hope that you will have success in your writing efforts, and please contact us if we can be of any assistance.
 
Peter Zurlis
President & Editor in Chief
 
 
BECOMING AN AUTHOR
At American Technical Publishers (ATP), authors come from many backgrounds and possess a variety of skills. However, there is a common bond that links all ATP authors — a commitment to sharing knowledge with instructors and learners in the field. Our authors are usually full-time professionals in addition to being dedicated writers.
 
The rewards of writing are many. The foremost is the personal satisfaction of helping learners in the field. Other rewards are more tangible, including recognition in the profession and financial compensation. These rewards are earned by those who have the commitment and discipline required for writing.
 
The material used to create a book can come from a variety of sources. Experience in the field, teaching experience, instructional material created for a specific program, and research activities can often be transformed into a publication. On a small scale, the material becomes a magazine article, presentation, or research paper. On a large scale, the material becomes a book.
 
Over time, professionals in the field develop a base of knowledge along with commonly used reference material. Interaction with other professionals provides additional opportunities to compile reference material. In an instructional setting, a library of information begins to form after teaching a class a few times. This information can be material such as a course outline, program curriculum, topical handouts, study guides, or worksheets. This material can eventually become the basis for a book or other instructional material. Sometimes the best instructional material and expertise is never shared outside its immediate environment. Publishing offers the opportunity to offer the benefit of your expertise to others in the field.
 
SELECTING A PUBLISHER
There are many publishers that develop instructional material. Each is unique and offers particular opportunities to the author. Some publishers specialize in a specific field. Others have subject area divisions with multiple titles in a single field. At ATP, we focus on technical instructional material. This has not changed for over 100 years. An author works closely with a publisher in a long-term relationship, and the selection of a publisher should be based on careful consideration of staff qualifications, reputation, and development and promotion capabilities.
 
Staff Qualifications
The ATP editorial staff possesses a wealth of instructional material development experience. Each staff member has unique qualifications that add to the collective capabilities of the Editorial Department. Our technical editors have first-hand experience in industry and instructional programs. Copy editors, illustrators, and support staff have broad publishing and educational experience, which ensures the quality and technical accuracy expected in the field. Our mission in all of our products is to develop instructional material that “minimizes barriers to comprehension.” The editorial staff is committed to this mission.
 
Reputation
ATP has been helping people learn since 1898. The company continues this tradition with a rich heritage and dedicated employee-owners. It was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1898 by R.T. Miller, Jr. as the American Technical Society. The American Technical Society was established to publish learning materials for use with the correspondence courses offered by the American School of Correspondence. This material evolved into numerous publications that addressed the instructional needs of the country through early industrial growth, two world wars, and the technological revolution. In 1980, the employees of the American Technical Society purchased the company and reorganized it as American Technical Publishers, Inc., an employee-owned company. ATP, as we are known in the industry today, continues the tradition of developing quality technical instructional material.
 
Development and Promotion Capabilities
At ATP, products are developed and promoted through close interaction between the authors, content experts, and the ATP staff. The product starts with quality information, and our authors and editorial staff work together to transform this information into a lasting instructional reference. While books have been our principal product in the past, all of our content can now be delivered digitally as eBooks or a variety of mobile devices and learning management systems. While the product is being developed, promotion efforts are planned and implemented by the marketing staff. Like the editorial staff, the marketing staff is comprised of knowledgeable persons with extensive industry and instructional experience. When you work with ATP, you are part of a large team of dedicated professionals.
 
The Publishing Process
Now that we have presented some of the considerations of selecting a particular publisher, let’s consider something that is common to all publishers: the publishing process. The publishing process can be broadly grouped into tasks of the author and tasks of the publisher.
 
The principal tasks of the author include the following:
 Identifying the product
 Preparing the proposal
 Authoring the manuscript
 
The principal tasks of the publisher include the following:
 Editing the manuscript
 Producing the product
 Marketing the product
 
Identifying the Product
Identification of the product often occurs as the result of an unmet need. For example, an instructor teaching a class may not be able to locate any reference texts with the content needed for a specific course. In some cases, changes in technology, government legislation, and/or workforce requirements drive the need to develop new or different instructional material. Sharing your product ideas with a trusted colleague can provide valuable insights. Answering the following questions can also help refine your ideas for a product.
 What products are available which are similar in scope and content?      
 Is the topic common in professional books, magazines, and/or corporate training material?  
 What is the intended audience for the product?
 What programs offer courses that would use the product? 
 Has any publisher expressed interest in a similar product?
 
If your findings indicate significant potential, a proposal should be prepared and submitted to the publisher.
 
Preparing the Proposal
A proposal is information prepared by the author that allows the publisher to make an informed decision regarding the feasibility of publishing the work. The proposal includes information about the author and a representative example of all parts of a complete manuscript. Submission of a complete manuscript is not required in the proposal. If the proposal is accepted, an agreement will be issued and signed. A meeting is then scheduled to coordinate manuscript development and submission. At ATP, close collaboration occurs between the author and editorial staff throughout the proposal preparation and manuscript development process. This collaborative approach expedites the production process by minimizing revisions to the manuscript.
 
Proposal Elements
A proposal should demonstrate the quality of work that can be expected from your efforts. Although a proposal provides a preliminary overview of a publication, it should contain a sample of selected elements of a complete manuscript such as the book contents, chapter outline, text, illustrations, captions, and digital resources. This may be the first proposal you have ever developed. The editorial staff can help provide assistance in your proposal development efforts.
Specific proposal development questions can be directed to:
 
Peter A. Zurlis
President & Editor in Chief
800-323-3471
 
Proposal development guidelines are listed in the document, Preparing a Proposal. After completion, the proposal should be reviewed by colleagues in your field. This provides “another set of eyes” to identify any concerns prior to submission.
After making final revisions, the completed proposal should be sent to:
 
Editor in Chief
American Technical Publishers, Inc.
10100 Orland Parkway, Suite 200
Orland Park, IL 60467-5756
 
Proposal Evaluation
The decision to accept a proposal is most often an economic decision. Rejection of a proposal may not be an indication of poor quality, but rather a mismatch of publisher needs and manuscript content. Key factors determining the acceptance of a proposal include market potential, product content, existing competing products, author credentials, and unique content characteristics.
 
If your proposal is not accepted, there are several other authoring opportunities available in the field. In particular, magazine editors are always seeking new articles of topical interest. Your experience in developing a proposal can be useful when presenting your ideas to a magazine staff. Other publishing opportunities may exist with scholarly journals. Depending on the specific audience, the content focus may require modification to best match the needs of the publication.
 
Helpful Hints When Writing
As an author, you are a member of an elite group of professionals. Very few individuals have the commitment and discipline to write a book. Writing is a very challenging and labor-intensive activity during the initial phase. Although a daunting task for seasoned and first-time authors, writing is actually comprised of a series of steps. To provide motivation, each step in the writing process can be plotted, which allows for a check of overall progress. This tangible evidence of achievement allows the author to track actual completion and progress toward the ultimate goal. A list of helpful hints is included at the end of this document for your reference.
 
Writing a book is like a marathon race rather than a short sprint. Good preparation and discipline will result in reaching the goal. At ATP, we look forward to working with you in this effort.
 
HELPFUL HINTS WHEN DEVELOPING INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS
At ATP, our mission is to publish instructional material that “minimizes barriers to comprehension.” Following this philosophy, these hints should be helpful when developing instructional material:
 Assume no prior knowledge when presenting new content but define/explain as required.
 Include enough information to allow the reader to master a specific concept.
 Organize content from most common to least common and from simple to complex.
 Fewer words are better.
 Review topics covered in competing products prior to beginning work.
 Present content using consistent (industry standard) nomenclature.
 Organize content to allow readers to compare and contrast the information covered.
 Provide transitions from previous information to new information.
 Cite any copyrighted information.
 Use parallel treatment when covering content in a category. For example, if discussing cars, cover brand, model, and price range for each manufacturer.
 Eliminate ambiguity through concise, definitive writing.
 Use the appropriate elements to promote comprehension — text, photographs, line drawings, and/or video clips.
 Use an engineering style — avoid pronouns: you, his, her, they (use correct title/term).
 Organize large writing tasks into specific smaller tasks. For example, a chapter text is comprised of sections, outlined under separate headings, which can be completed in separate writing sessions.
 Organize other manuscript elements such as rough art, captions, and supplementary reference material in the same manner.