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ABA TECHSHOW 2008: So You Want to Be an ABA Author? (Special Session)

By Mazyar Hedayat | Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Presenters: Sharon Nelson, Timothy Johnson, and Dan Pinnington
Thursday, March 13 at 5:15 pm

You'd think that a session held at the end of a very long first day of the TechShow would be a drag, right? But you'd be wrong. Timothy Johnson, Executive Director of the Law Practice Management Publishing, Sharon Nelson, President of Sensei Enterprises and Chair of the Law Practice Management Publishing Board, and Dan Pinnington, Director of practicePRO and Chair of the Webzine Board for Law Practice Today, delivered a helpful presentation for the prospective authors in attendance.

Publishing a Book

The speakers demystified the book publishing process by breaking it down into five simple steps:

1. Informal Proposal
Propose an idea to Sharon and Tim. It's probably a good idea to review what the ABA's Law Practice Management Section has already published. If they think your proposal has merit and it does not duplicate something already in the works by another author, you are off to the races.

2. Proposal Form
Complete a proposal form on the ABA's Web site. Your proposal will then be reviewed by the Publication Board and, if approved, then you are on your way to being immortalized in print, ABA-style.

3. Write the Book
Now, for the hard part. To help you with the process of actually writing your book, the ABA will assign a Project Manager-Editor. Hey, someone has to keep you on schedule. At this point you'll:

• Sign an authorship agreement.
• Propose a timeline (usually 6-12 months).

And remember, this isn't a law review! It's a practical way to share your knowledge and best-practices with lawyers like yourself. Don't forget to include such value-added features as:

• Checklists
• Diagrams
• Lists
• Practice Pointers
• Charts
• Tables
• Data, data, and more data

Once your oeuvre is complete, the time until publication will be about four months. The ABA retains the copyright.

4. Marketing Your Book
The ABA does its share of marketing on your behalf, but it doesn't hurt to sell, sell, sell. Turn to fellow authors, bloggers, Internet talk-shows (podcasts), and don't forget online publications like TechnoLawyer.

5. Royalties
Watch the royalties roll in at the rate of 10% of gross sales. Most books don't make it past their first edition, which is generally about 1,000 copies (although this ranges from as few as one hundred to several thousand). Who knows, maybe you'll become the Stephen King of the legal world, but 1,000 copies is still a good return on investment.

Additional Publishing Opportunities

The ABA has a number of other publications as well, including:

• Magazines
• eZines
• Podcasts
• eBooks
• Blogs
• Form Banks

Magazine Publishing

Law Practice is the flagship publication of the Law Practice Management Section.

• Submissions should be about 1,500-2,000 words.
• Topics should be informative and practical too.
• Circulation of the magazine is 20,000+.
• Authors are not paid.
• The magazine retains copyright (or right of first refusal).

eZine Publishing

Dan Pinnington encouraged people to contact him to discuss submissions to the ABA's eZine, Law Technology Today.

• Submissions should be about 1,000 words.
• Topics should be educational and practical.
• There is usually quick editorial turnaround.
• Expect good exposure due to high traffic.
• Authors are not paid.

Party Time?

And with that, day one of TechShow ended ... at least the official part. At 6:30 in the Grand Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton the ABA hosted a wingding of sorts known simply as TechShow After Dark. In addition, a series of working social dinners assembled around discrete topics. As for your humble reporter, I had a quick look around upstairs and went home to write. It was a long day.

Read more firsthand reports from ABA TechShow 2008.

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