Publishing process

From original research to published book, the publishing process involves a number of stages. Each of these stages involves a number of stakeholders all of which carry different expertise and knowledge. Zed Books is here to support you through the journey from research to publication and, most crucially, to ensure your work reaches the correct and widest possible audience. For over forty years we have developed a process geared to delivering precisely that.

This page offers a holistic overview of the publishing process. If you are a first time author, this a useful outline of the various stages you and your work will go through.

Proposal submission


  • After you submit your book proposal, our editorial team will evaluate it and decide whether to send it to peer reviewers.


Peer review – stage 1


  • Peer review is central to academic publishing, it assures the quality, originality and rigour of your work. For more information about peer review, visit our peer review page.


During the publishing process, we’ll only decide to accept or reject a proposal after we’ve received full feedback from peer reviewers. Please allow six weeks for this stage of the process.



  • If we decide to accept your proposal, we’ll offer you a book contract. The contract establishes a working relationship for us to move through the book publishing process as seamlessly as possible.
  • If you’ve submitted a draft manuscript along with your proposal, we may also, at this point, ask for any revisions, such as changing the text, refining your argument or pulling in additional resources. We’re more than happy to discuss suggestions as we want you, the author, to be completely happy with the final version too.


Please note, however, we normally offer a contract based on a book proposal, not on a draft manuscript.


  • Regardless of whether you’ve submitted a manuscript or book proposal, we’ll also agree a delivery timescale around this time. It’s important you agree your delivery date with your editor, as the delivery date is contractually binding.


Writing your manuscript


  • Once a signed contract is in place, it’s time for you to start writing and developing your manuscript.


Submitting your draft manuscript


  • Once you’ve finalised your manuscript, there are a few things you must check before submitting it to your editor. Please make sure to go through and complete each item on our manuscript submission guidelines.
  • Your editor will then check your draft before handing it over to peer reviewers.


Peer review – stage 2


  • If you’re submitting a first version, read our peer review page to find out more about this stage of the process.


Development and revisions


  • Your editor will require revisions to the manuscript following the peer review. Peer review comments are anonymised and combined with required revisions and developments from your editor.
  • You will then continue writing and editing your draft, in response to the peer review and to the required revisions.




  •  At this stage, your book will be positioned for the right market. Every book is unique and as such, it must be carefully crafted and optimised for the right marketing, sales and distribution channels. More information on this can be found on the marketing your book page.

Cover design


  • The book cover is a crucial marketing tool and is developed in response to the book’s positioning process. Zed Books is known for producing exceptionally high-quality designs for all types of books. Our Art Department will contact you regarding the book cover.


Submitting a final draft


  • If you’ve agreed with your editor that your manuscript is finalised, the production manager will check through your manuscript and editor’s notes before sending it to one of our production teams who’ll oversee its progress. The Production Manager will contact you  to explain the process and expected timeframes.



  • A project manager oversees the production of your physical and digital book. This process also involves copyeditors, type designers, typesetters, ebook conversion specialists and creative teams including graphic designers, illustrators and our Art Department.


Production – copy editing


  • Your manuscript will also be sent to a copyeditor to check for grammar, syntax and mistakes. This normally takes about a month and they’ll contact you with any queries. They’ll also provide you with a deadline for any amendments. It’s important to meet this deadline as not to hold up the production process.


Production – type design and typesetting

  • Once your manuscript has been copyedited, it’ll be typeset and a final PDF proof will be sent to you for review. It’s important to note that at this stage, only make minor corrections, such as typos, as the text has been set, comprehensive changes are very expensive.


Production – index creation


  • At this stage, you’ll also need to prepare an index or commission a freelance professional index. We can provide recommendations.


Production – preparation of printer files


  • Once the proofs have been corrected, we’ll prepare the text cover and electronic files and send them to you and your editor.


Production – printing your book


  • Once the final files have been checked, we’ll send them to the printer, who’ll print the book and send it to our warehouse.




  • The production manager will conduct a final review before the book is sent out for distribution and we’ll send you your complimentary copies.
What is critical academic publishing?

Find out more about critical academic publishers like Zed Books.