University presses publish works by a wide array of authors. Some may be professors at a press’s home institution, but the majority of a given press’s authors are likely to be affiliated with other universities and colleges, and some will not be affiliated with a university at all.
Criteria for evaluating authors’ formal and informal credentials will vary among presses and in all cases will depend on the genre in which you are writing and the expectations of the audience for the book. Most scholarly audiences will expect authors to hold a terminal degree in the field, but for trade books (sometimes referred to as crossover-trade books), meant for the general reading public, the range of credentials can be much larger. These trade books are typically written by experts in their fields, including journalists, professionals, and practitioners. Some publishers’ trade lists may focus on regional topics, in which case residence in the area is often helpful for marketing the book but is not required. AUPresses has members from many parts of the world, not just the United States, that publish a diverse range of topics. If you have a good idea, a well-researched topic, and a compelling writing style, then it is very possible that there is a university press that would be an appropriate publisher for your work.
To find out which university presses publish in your field of inquiry, a good place to start is the AUPresses Annual Directory and/or the online AUPresses Subject Area Grid. For certain kinds of trade nonfiction projects (such as books that have grown out of traditional academic scholarship, regional nonfiction, and cookbooks), it may also be helpful to consult the grid thematically. In all cases, once you have a sense of which presses publish the kind of work you write, consult their websites and catalogs and ask whether your project complements or extends the conversations each press seems to be engaged in.
For more information, see “Will university presses consider authors without academic jobs?” and “Is a trade press or an academic press a better fit for my book?” on the Ask UP site.
—University of South Carolina Press, November 2021