The Process of Academic Publishing: Preparing a Book Proposal

By Jared Peterman on Feb 4, 2019
eContent Pro International

eContent Pro International® strives to work with researchers to improve the quality and integrity of published work. The academic publishing process is a journey that in most cases takes more than a year to come to fruition. In this series, “The Process of Academic Publishing,” eContent Pro International® will outline each step involved in publishing scholarly works. This piece highlights the proposal of a book manuscript to academic publishers.

The Process of Academic Publishing: Preparing a Book Proposal

The first step toward publishing a research book is creating a book proposal. A book proposal covers basic information about the author and some in-depth details on the content planned for inclusion in their book. Providing the proper information to publishing companies in a proposal can impact the chances of the work being considered for publication. A proposal outlines the entire plan for a book including items such as title suggestions, keywords, marketing plans, a synopsis, potential contributors, and much more. Here we dive into some of these items:


Proposal criteria and formatting can vary from publisher to publisher. Some publishers might request that the proposal be submitted in Microsoft Word format, in PDF, or may have an online form. Either way, it is imperative that prospective authors follow the instructions and criteria as specified by the publisher.

Author Information

Publishing houses will require the author(s) to give information about themselves such as their name, e-mail address, phone number, affiliation, country, highest degree earned, and research areas. The essential piece of information that a publisher is looking for is a detailed CV (Curriculum Vitae)/resume. An author’s CV should include their education, job experience, accomplishments, research, and publishing history.

Key Information

Publishers must be able to clearly understand what the proposed book publication will cover. Some of the key information needed to adequately display the intended coverage is the title, a brief synopsis, and several keywords. When providing a synopsis for the book, the author must provide a detailed summary and also give a concise definition of the subject area so that the publisher is able to identify the book’s research field. Additionally, if the book is an edited work, requiring chapters from multiple contributing authors, the publisher will likely request a plan for reaching contributors along with a sample call for chapters.

Scope of the Manuscript

In addition to the brief synopsis, it is important that the author explains why the book should be published by identifying its objectives and also intended audience. The author must explain the overall meaning and impact that their book will have to the research community. Providing sample chapters can also be very helpful for the publisher to examine the intended coverage. This information allows the publisher to determine who would benefit from the publication.

Partnerships and Marketing Plans

If the author has a specific association, society, or conference associated with the research being included in the publication, it is imperative that they indicate so in the proposal. Also, any recommendations they have for marketing the publication are encouraged. These may include potential solicitation channels that the book can be marketed to such as listservs, organizations, gatherings, etc.

Turnaround Time

Reviewing a proposal takes time. For most publishers, the average time for the review of a proposal can be anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks, if not longer. Once the review has been performed, the publisher may accept, reject, or send it back to the author for additional information and/or revisions.

If a proposal is rejected by the publisher, it may be for the following reasons: the publisher already has a high volume of works on that topic area (oversaturation); the book is an edited work and lacks diversity (for instance, all the contributions planned are from the same university and/or region), and the plan for acquiring contributions is weak; the topic and research proposed is outdated or the publication or portions of the publication have already been published elsewhere. If the proposal is rejected, the authors may seek other publishers for their project.

If the proposal is accepted, a publishing contract will be issued to the author(s). Once the book is contracted, it will move into the development phase of the editorial process and at that time services such as eContent Pro International’s English Language Copy Editing and Scientific & Scholarly Editing can greatly improve the quality of the book manuscript prior to final publication.

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