How to write an academic book proposal

Below you’ll find advice on how to write a proposal for a new book as well as a proposal for a new edition. If you have any questions or need additional support, contact our editorial team.

A step by step guide to writing a proposal for a new book

  • 1

    Start with the provisional title of the book and basic information like your name, address, and contact details. If you’re not sure about the title don’t worry, in most cases the title and subtitle change many times as the project develops.

  • 2

    Include a short (200 word) biography outlining your background and experiences as a researcher. Include details of previous publications, society memberships or other affiliations, such as editorial boards for journals or delivery of recent key notes, for example.

  • 3

    Provide basic book details like provisional word count, submission date and any funding or other financial support you’ve received in association with the research or publication of the proposed work. Include the names of funders or funding institutions, amounts and purpose (for example, production subsidy, funding to cover a book processing charge BPC, or funding for a bulk purchase). If you want to publish your book through Open Access you must state this.

  • 4

    Has any of the work previously been published, such as in a journal, magazine, report, conference proceedings or online? If so, please give details.

  • 5

    Have you submitted the book to any other publishers?

  • 6

    Will you need copyright permissions for any materials in the book? If so, from who?

  • 7

    Suggest two possible referees (please be aware that, as outlined on our peer review page, we will also gather our own).

  • 8

    Create a synopsis of your book presenting a snapshot of the topics addressed, include a statement on its originality, main argument and unique selling points, as well as what type of book you are proposing.

  • 9

    Provide a single sentence covering its core argument and appeal. This is perhaps the most challenging element of a proposal submission. So, it’s worth having a few goes at it and asking colleagues if it sums up the value of your project.

  • 10

    Outline the structure of your book, including a provisional table of contents and short description of each chapter with relevant keywords.

  • 11

    Include a list, or details of any figures, tables and illustrations you want to use, as well as any sample chapters (if you have them).

  • 12

    Please provide as much qualitative and quantitative details about your intended audience and any personal plans to market your book. Focus on your networks and academic affiliations. Include a list of relevant journals and journal editors as well as relevant conferences and communities.

  • 13

    Attach your CV. If you have sample chapters make sure you upload them.

New edition proposals

If your proposal is for a new edition of an already published book, there are some additional elements you should include for consideration.

  • A

    Include a provisional word count of the new material.

  • B

    Include information on key developments in the field since the original publication. Make sure to explain why a new edition is necessary and what the new material will cover.

  • C

    Outline updates to existing chapters (if relevant) and any cuts to the existing edition (if applicable).

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.