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Write for Us
The Missing Manual Author Quest
Almost every industry cultivates new talent, hoping to discover their superstars of tomorrow: Professional baseball teams have farm teams, Hollywood studios support independent filmmakers, and computer companies invest in Silicon Valley start-ups.
We're trying to find the next wonderful Missing Manual author and when we do, we'll offer that person a title in our series. We're looking for somebody with:
- An ability to write in the Missing Manual style. If you have experience writing for magazines, newsletters, or books, terrific--but that's not the main thing. (The authors of the best-selling "AppleWorks 6: the Missing Manual," for example, had never written a book before.) Instead, we're looking for a conversational, friendly approach, clarity, and a sense of what's important in a sentence--and in a piece of software. The Missing Manual authors' guide (PDF) tells you more about what we're seeking. And this sample chapter (PDF) should be especially valuable. The more you're able to adopt the style and book elements, the more likely we are to say, "Whoa, we need to sign this author!" If you have problems downloading either of these files, send an email to
- Great patience. Somebody with experience in training people has an advantage here.
- Reasonable speed. Computer books are time-sensitive; we often write the book based on beta software, so that the book is ready to publish when the program is released. Some people can pull off writing a book while holding down a full-time job; others can work only part-time while writing a book.
- Technical expertise. You need to have experience with the program you're writing about. This doesn't mean you need to be an Olympic-class Excel programmer or a Google API expert--in fact, we can pair you with a true topic guru who can help you with the details--but you've got to be familiar with the program if you're going to advise others how to use it. Let us know what you're good at.
What's in It for You
As any of the Missing Manual authors can tell you, working on a Missing Manual isn't like working on other books. For one thing, it's fun. For another, Missing Manuals have a high probability of best-sellerdom. Nearly all the books in the series have become the #1 best sellers on their topics at some point.
If this sounds interesting to you, we'd like to give you an assignment: Fully outline and partially write a chapter of Microsoft Word: The Missing Manual. The chapter is called "Using and Understanding Tab Stops." Please outline the entire chapter, using as many level-1 headers and level-2, level-3 and level-4 subheads as you'd like, and insert the titles of any sidebars you'd include. Then write just the first three to five pages of the chapter and turn in both the outline and the writing.
This sample can cover either the Mac or Windows version of Word (we're looking for both kinds of authors). The goal is to help both the beginner and the power user understand the different kinds of tab stops, how the default tab stops work, and so on.
Include whatever illustrations you think are necessary, following the graphics formatting specs in the authors' guide (PDF). Remember that we're looking for clarity, colorful writing, and perfect grammar, syntax, and spelling. And please, please read the authors' guide and follow the directions for voice, sentence structure, and so on.
Finally, there's no substitute for reading through a Missing Manual or two. This series has been a great success because the books consistently provide what readers are desperate for: practical guidance that respects their intelligence. By reading through one or two of our books, you'll quickly see the kind of writing that goes into a Missing Manual.
Send the result to Include any info we should know about you--your experience, your availability, your interests. If you've done other computer-instruction writing, we'd love to see those samples, as well.
What Happens Next
We can't promise a book contract to everyone who's interested. But we have signed with many authors who submitted great samples through this process.
If we don't offer a contract to you, we'll keep you on file in case we need help completing a book that has fallen behind schedule--a fairly frequent occurrence in computer-book publishing. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the process.
Thanks for your interest in the series!
--Team Missing Manual
P.S. If you're interested in editing Missing Manuals, click here.