Going Public: Trade Books for a General Audience

When and Where

Thursday, October 06, 2022 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm


Writing for the general public is a powerful way to disseminate research findings to the broader world, have wider research impact, and reconnect with why the work you do matters. Mainstream writing does not replace journal articles or monographs, but instead complements them by helping to reach different audiences and achieve different professional goals.

Trade publications are as rigorous as scholarship – but much easier to read. How do you turn, and tune your voice from the academic monograph/journal article to the public sphere? In this session, U of T researchers who have published trade books for a general audience based on their research, will share their lived experiences, insights and advice about their writing, voice, audience, and the tensions between the language of specialization and the language of public discourse. This session will also provide insights from a trade book publishing editor who will share their insider knowledge on navigating trade books and how to connect with a more general audience of readers.

Target Audience:

  • Faculty Researchers in all disciplines and from all career levels
  • Sessional instructors, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, librarians, and staff interested in writing trade books for a general audience are also welcome to attend

Session Objectives:

  • To provide an introduction to trade publications in contrast to scholarly publishing
  • To gain practical advice, understanding, and strategies towards writing for a broader audience
  • Identify common researcher/author challenges in popular writing
  • To get a better understanding of trade publication process

Moderator: Prof. Alison Keith, Dept. of Classics; Director, Jackman Humanities Institute


  • Prof. Joseph Heath, Dept. of Philosophy, and Munk School of Public Policy & Global Affairs
  • Prof. Doris Bergen, Dept. of History, Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies
  • Jim Gifford, Editorial Director, Non-Fiction, HarperCollins Publishers