Chapter Content Development

As you embark on writing your chapters, keep the overall process of manuscript development in mind: you first submit a draft manuscript to your acquisitions editor by the draft manuscript due date specified in your contract, the draft manuscript is sent out to peer reviewers for feedback, the feedback is sent to you along with recommendations for revision, and you then submit a final manuscript by the final manuscript due date specified in your contract. That final manuscript is then sent to the Production Department. Although this process is set up in such a way that you have a window of time to work on manuscript revisions after you submit your draft, you should still strive to submit a draft that is as clean and as well-developed as possible up front. That way, reviewers will get a real sense of exactly what your book will cover and their feedback will be more helpful and relevant to you than it would be if your draft was very preliminary or incomplete. The sections below are designed to get you thinking about the writing and peer review process and to spark your ideas about possible ways that you might go about developing your manuscript.

Audience and Approach

While Corwin books are written for a range of different audiences—from teachers, to school principals, to superintendents and paraprofessionals—most are written with the primary purpose of providing these educators with the practical tools that will help them in their everyday practice. Of course, there are exceptions—big-picture, inspirational “think pieces” written by leaders in the field and theoretical texts designed to inform educators about the latest in education research and trends. However, even these titles always address the implications for practice—the key “takeaways” for professionals working in the field. The feedback we have gathered from peer reviewers and readers over the years consistently tells us that what readers value the most about our books are the practical tools they provide. With that in mind, please think carefully about the specific audience of readers you’re writing for and the particular types of “ready-made” tools and templates you can create that will have an immediate impact on their day-to-day practice.

An Overview of the Peer Review Process

All Corwin draft manuscripts are sent out to 5-7 peer reviewers who are asked to fill out a questionnaire assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your project.  We carefully consider the background and experience of the peer reviewers to make sure the individuals we select are knowledgeable about or interested in the topics addressed in your manuscript. In addition, we will aim to secure reviewers who fit the profile of who we think will be one of the typical readers of your book. The peer review process typically takes 3-5 weeks, and it enables us to gather the feedback we need from subject-matter experts in order to guide you as you revise your manuscript.

Once we have received all of the feedback on your manuscript, we will consolidate the comments and send them to you for consideration. Your acquisitions editor and/or associate editor may also send along an analysis of the reviews and schedule a follow-up phone call to discuss suggested revisions and next steps.

Length Considerations

As you draft your chapters, please keep in mind that it’s very important to adhere to the word or page count specified in your contract. The length of the book has an impact on its price point and the associated perceptions in the marketplace, so our editorial and marketing teams have already carefully considered the length and price of the competing books to arrive at your contracted word count.

To monitor the length of your manuscript, you must take into account both the word count of your chapters and the amount of space that will be needed to accommodate any tables, figures, templates, reproducible forms, or other artwork. To determine the overall word count, run a word count on your chapters and then also use the guidelines below to determine the equivalent word count for any non-text items in your manuscript.

  • A figure that will take a full page in the printed book is roughly equivalent to 500 words
  • A figure that will take half a page in the printed book is roughly equivalent to 250 words
  • A figure that will take a quarter of a page in the printed book is roughly equivalent to 125 words

Add together the word count of each chapter with the word count associated with any of the non-text items. If you find that your manuscript is running shorter or longer than the contracted number of words, let your acquisitions editor know as soon as possible.

Developing Chapter Features

Chapter features are elements of your manuscript that are set off from the main text and designed and developed to add interest and appeal for the reader. In some cases, features are pedagogical devices such as reflective or application questions, self-assessments, or chapter summaries. In other cases, features can be used to elaborate on the main text, explain key concepts in depth, highlight best practices, or provide examples and illustrations of key points. For instance, chapter features might include case studies, voices from the field, standards correlation grids, synopses of relevant research, classroom vignettes, or reader or student exercises.

Well developed features are not only enticing for the reader, they also distinguish your book from competing books in the market and give our marketing and sales team rich examples to use when promoting your book and talking to customers about it. When developing features, keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Titles – Your features will be more memorable for the reader if they have descriptive, yet relatively simple titles. Features that are untitled or simply labeled as Box 1.1, Box 1.2 will not give the reader any information about the purpose of the feature and will leave them wondering why they are significant and how they are related to the rest of the text. In addition, we would ideally like to have the features listed in the table of contents. If they have descriptive titles, the reader will have a sense of what the features are and will be able to skim the table of contents to see exactly where they appear in the book.
  • Consistency – Ideally, features should be included consistently throughout each chapter, but there are always exceptions. Some features or pedagogy, like organizing matrices or correlation grids, might be better placed at the front or back of the book. For example, if there are student activities listed throughout the book that align with particular standards, you might create one matrix at the beginning of the book that lists all of the standards and highlights which activities in the book relate to those standards. In other cases, you might have the chapters in your book categorized into overarching parts. You might have a feature, such as a visual model, that appears at the opening of each part of the book and uses shading or another design element to highlight the part of the model that will be discussed in the chapters that follow. It also might be possible that your book is organized with broader, more foundational chapters in the beginning and then followed by specific topical or strategy chapters. In that case, you may have features that appear in every topical chapter, but that do not appear in the foundational chapters.
  • Audience – When crafting your features, keep in mind that our primary audience is always the practitioner. Although many of our books are also used in the higher education market, we want to ensure that your features are not developed in a way that gives your book too much of a textbook feel. For instance, if one of your features will be reflective questions that appear at the end of each chapter, these questions should first and foremost be written in a way that will be helpful to the individual practitioner or to a group of practitioners participating in a book study or professional learning community. If possible, the questions in a feature such as this could also be developed in such a way that they are open-ended enough to be helpful in a college course as well—but this should not be your primary aim. Please avoid using “check your understanding” type questions and quizzes, as practitioners do not want to feel as if they are being tested on the material they’ve read. If you plan to integrate pedagogical features into your book, aim to create questions or assessments that get teachers thinking more broadly about their experiences and how they relate to the topic at hand.
  • Reviewer feedback – When your manuscript is sent out for peer review, reviewers will provide feedback on your features, which will give you a sense of how well they are resonating with your target audience. As you consider the reviewer feedback, you will have a chance to work with your editorial team to modify and refine them to ensure that they are useful and engaging for your readers.

PDF icon Sample Feature #1.pdf
PDF icon Sample Feature #2.pdf
PDF icon Sample Feature #3.pdf

Developing Practical Tools

In addition to developing features for your book, please consider creating and incorporating practical tools that practitioners can put to immediate use. For example, if you’re writing a book about response to intervention, you might include tools designed to help administrators and teachers with the implementation process in their classrooms and schools. Such tools might include readymade checklists, templates of letters to be sent to parents and other constituents, sample documentation forms, student tracking charts, descriptions of staff roles, meeting guidelines, practitioner self-assessment tools, etc.  

If you are including templates or tools that you want readers to be able to write in or fill out, please alert your editorial team. In those cases, we will ensure that the tools in question are set off on their own pages and that they are sized correctly so they can be easily photocopied or reproduced. In addition, some of our books will have companion websites, and we may consider posting those types of tools online so practitioners can easily download the material for their use.

PDF icon Sample Practical Tool #1.pdf
PDF icon Sample Practical Tool #2.pdf
PDF icon Sample Practical Tool #3.pdf

Creating Effective Headings

Headings serve as signposts for the reader, guiding them through the narrative and giving them a sense of where they’ve been, how far they have left to go, and what the points of interest are along the way. Headings also help break up long sections of text, making the presentation of your material more reader-friendly.

The most common types of headings used in Corwin books are first and second level heads. First-level heads are the main topics to be discussed in a chapter and are of equal importance; second-level heads break down each main topic into separate but equal discussions that support that specific main topic. You may also wish to use third and fourth-level heads depending on how you’ve organized your manuscript. Please consider the tips below when creating and formatting your headings.

Tips for Using Headings:

  • Avoid creating an extremely detailed outline, filling in the outline as you write, and simply keeping those headings intact, as you will need to ensure that there are transitional sentences between each section, that the headings are not being overused, and that the text does not feel too choppy.
  • Avoid using subheads in lieu of transitional statements. In some cases this might work, but in general it will be more effective for the reader if you use transitional sentences to guide readers through the text and into different sections and use short, simple headings as signposts
  • Headings should be brief yet descriptive. Remember that readers will also see these headings in the table of contents and will look at them to determine what the book is about. If the headings are too generic or too clever, the reader may be confused about the contents of the book.
  • Introductory text should follow each main heading and should lead into the subheads that support that heading.
  • Avoid “stacking” heads of two or more levels, one above the other, with no intervening text between them.

How to Format Your Headings:

  • Level 1 heads are main headings and should be centered and set in bold type.
  • Level 2 heads should be flush left and bold.
  • Level 3 heads should be flush left, bold, and italicized.
  • Level 4 heads should run into the text and should be bold and italicized.
Level Format
1 Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings
2 Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading
3 Left-aligned, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading
4 Boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period. Begin body text after the period. 

Images, Figures, Tables, Photographs, and Student Work

There are two main kinds of graphics in most manuscripts: (1) Graphics that will not be edited (these include photos, illustrations, clip art, student artwork, and certain complex tables or diagrams) and (2) graphics that will be edited, and will be typeset to match the template of the book. These include figures and tables that are mainly text, most reproducible forms, and most simple diagrams. Note: Text features such as bulleted or numbered lists or boxed text are not considered graphics.

  • How to Number Your Graphics. Number graphics sequentially as they appear within each chapter. For example the first three figures in Chapter 1 should be Figure 1.1, Figure 1.2, and Figure 1.3. The third figure in Chapter 4 would be Figure 4.3. Numbering this way allows production to place the graphics correctly. It also allows readers to easily find graphics referenced in the text.
  • How to Indicate the Placement of Your Graphics. There are two ways to show where you want your graphics placed. The first method would be to simply insert a call-out in the text. Center call-outs on a line separate from text. Specify if the graphic needs to be placed exactly where indicated in the manuscript, or if it can be approximately there by including the following callouts:





The second method of indicating the placement of graphics is to place the graphic in the file where you want it. This helps our production editors see what you envision. Keep in mind, however, that you will still need to provide separate, high resolution files for all graphics (photos, illustrations, clip art, student artwork, etc.).

  • Providing High Resolution Image Files. If you plan to include graphics such as photos, illustrations, clip art, student work, and certain complex tables or diagrams that will not be edited or typeset, you must submit a high resolution file for each item. Low resolution images often look fine on a computer monitor. However, low resolution images are not effective for the process of print publication. When low resolution images are used in print publishing, the images look blurry and unprofessional rather than crisp and finished. Please follow the guidelines below when preparing your images for submission:
    • Assess the resolution of all of your images ( File How to Assess the Resolution of an Image.docx)
    • Submit your files in EPS, JPEG, or TIF formats
    • Label each file with a figure number
    • Do not submit files that have been extracted from Word documents as Word automatically decreases the resolution in graphics files to the minimum required for onscreen viewing
  • Special Considerations for Photographs. Please check with your editorial team if you are considering including photographs in your manuscript. If photographs are part of your manuscript, please keep the following guidelines in mind:
    • You must provide high resolution images in JPG or TIFF format. Alternately, hard copy photos may be submitted.
    • Whether you are sending digital photos or hard copy photos, identify them with the appropriate figure number.
    • Although we do not publish color photos in our books, submission of color photos or scans is preferred when possible. This allows us greater flexibility in adjusting the images during the production process.
    • We will do our best to adjust the photo images for maximum quality in the final printed book, but there are limits to the improvements we can make.
    • Photos of individuals under 18 require parental permission. In order to use photos of adults, you must secure their permission. Photos taken by someone other than the author require permission from the photographer. Contact your editorial assistant for the appropriate release forms.
  • Special Considerations for Illustrations. Please note that Corwin does not commission illustrations for books. Supplying interior illustrations is the responsibility of the author. If you plan to commission illustrations, please discuss with your acquisitions editor in advance. The illustrator will need to sign permission forms granting Corwin the right to publish the material.  
  • Special Considerations for Clip Art. Corwin books do not typically include clip art. If you plan to use clip art, please discuss with your acquisitions editor as soon as possible. You will need to obtain permission from the creator for any clip art that you use. Note that clip art found in Microsoft Word software may not be used for commercial publications. Also, we may not use clip art found on the Internet unless you obtain permission from the person who created the image.
  • Special Considerations for Student Work. If you plan to include student work or student artwork, please send high resolution images for evaluation by our art department when you submit your draft manuscript. Each student’s parent will need to sign a permission form allowing Corwin to publish the work.