The scholarly book proposal may be academia’s most mysterious genre. You have to write one to get published, but most scholars receive no training on how to do so—and you may have never even seen a proposal before you’re expected to produce your own. The Book Proposal Book cuts through the mystery and guides prospective authors step by step through the process of crafting a compelling proposal and pitching it to university presses and other academic publishers.
Laura Portwood-Stacer, an experienced developmental editor and publishing consultant for academic authors, shows how to select the right presses to target, identify audiences and competing titles, and write a project description that will grab the attention of editors—breaking the entire process into discrete, manageable tasks. The book features over fifty time-tested tips to make your proposal stand out; sample prospectuses, a letter of inquiry, and a response to reader reports from real authors; optional worksheets and checklists; answers to dozens of the most common questions about the scholarly publishing process; and much, much more.
Whether you’re hoping to publish your first book or you’re a seasoned author with an unfinished proposal languishing on your hard drive, The Book Proposal Book provides honest, empathetic, and invaluable advice on how to overcome common sticking points and get your book published. It also shows why, far from being merely a hurdle to clear, a well-conceived proposal can help lead to an outstanding book.
"Superb: practical, accessible, deeply savvy. . . . I truly believe that if you want to understand how books can be made in the 2020s, you should read Anne [Trubek] Laura [Portwood-Stacer] and… basically no one else!"—Robin Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
"There is so much in this little book to recommend to the bewildered or intimidated potential author that it is hard to imagine navigating the territory of scholarly publishing without it. . . . In crafting this guide for authors, Portwood-Stacer has done a tremendous service for both the academy and for the community of scholarly publishers."—Gregory M. Britton, Publishing Research Quarterly
"I’m working my way through [The Book Proposal Book] and while I would like to rush right through it, I’m trying to read slowly because it’s truly so instructive—not only for authors, but also for editors how to communicate better with their authors."—Alison Syring, University of Illinois Press
"By bringing clarity to topics that are seldom explicitly taught, The Book Proposal Book offers a vital resource, especially for scholars who lack the resources to work with a freelance editor or attend a publishing workshop. . . . The Book Proposal Book can help authors to feel less alone through the daunting process of proposal writing. . . . I recommend this book not only for authors who are currently working on book proposals, but for all readers who share Portwood-Stacer’s commitment to helping scholarly writers feel hopeful, powerful, and supported."—Sara Saylor, Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
“Laura Portwood-Stacer brings great knowledge, clarity, and compassion to the project of coaching scholars through the book submission process. The result is much more than an exceptional guide to writing a book proposal. It’s a window into the entire publishing process, with advice for authors heading into the labyrinth for the first time, or the tenth. I have added this book to a very short list of titles that I regularly recommend to authors, and I know that many other editors will do the same.”—Gita Manaktala, editorial director of The MIT Press
“Comprehensive yet accessible, Laura Portwood-Stacer’s masterful guide demystifies the ever-daunting book proposal. New and experienced scholars alike will find The Book Proposal Book valuable, as this twenty-step manual carefully instructs aspiring authors from book idea to publication.”—Eddie R. Cole, author of The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom
“Smart, clear, well-organized, and practical, The Book Proposal Book will be a valued resource for scholarly authors seeking publication.”—Peter Ginna, editor of What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing
“Laura Portwood-Stacer has produced one of the finest books for skills development in academia, and one that is sorely needed, despite the wealth of books on how to write scholarly prose and how to develop your own book manuscripts. The Book Proposal Book is a must-have for every aspiring book author in academia.”—Raul Pacheco-Vega, FLACSO Mexico
“Following Portwood-Stacer’s advice will not only create a better book proposal; it will create a better book.”—Beth Luey, author of Handbook for Academic Authors
“Extraordinarily helpful, this is a book that scholars will wish they had had when pitching their first (and second and third) books. Portwood-Stacer distills years of experience into a handbook that is easy to read and implement.”—Lee Skallerup Bessette, Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, Georgetown University