Sunday, November 14, 2010

Book Proposal. Help. Please.

I feel like a deer in headlights right now.  The book editor I've been in contact with wrote to me and asked for a full book proposal.  We tend to see months go by between emails, so I don't imagine that this means "by the end of the next weekend," but it seems to me that the responsible thing to do, having described my project in a bit of detail already for Editor, is to email a proper book proposal, rather than an email stalling for time.  My postdoc, after all, affords me writing time that I may not see again for a while.

It's times like this that I envy Roman Catholics for their nifty oaths for times of stress: Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  Holy mother of God!  

All I can think right now is: Fuck me, what the hell should a full book proposal look like?

Obviously, one should have an outlined table of contents, and a few chapters in shape to send.  On the marketing end, I have to include in my cover letter a pitch describing why my book is right for the publishing house, and why a certain target market will buy this book and, lord willin', assign it to their students.  What else should I include in the proposal?

Please, all of you who are published academic authors, give me the benefit of your wisdom of experience!  I don't want to blow this.

P.S. Dr. Crazy, don't think I ignored your sage book-buying advice!  I bought and read Germano's book on this stuff, but now that's packed up in a box in the United States, and I am in Research City, far out of reach of my books.  I fear I need a refresher.


  1. Does the publishing house you're targeting have a thing on their website about what they want to see in proposals? That would be the first place I'd start. Or, if they don't, here's a decent guideline for the basics.

  2. Surely you could get that book (and maybe other helpful ones) at a prestigious library in RC?

  3. I can help! Email me. at gmail

  4. You know who's totally snazzy and awesome? heu mihi. Ok, she does medieval lit stuff, but she also blogged her letter and proposal process when she was going through the book process, and I used it for when I did up my proposals (I have proposals? Oh, postdoc, why do you eat my time and destroy my brain????) Anyway, go search her site for directions about writing a book proposal and you will be able to figure out the process, wherever the hell you may be!

    Have fun!!!

  5. PS if you wrote a 2-page "dissertation abstract" as part of your job apps and postdoc apps, start with that as your base material.

  6. Agreeing with Dr. Crazy.

    *Definitely* look at the publisher's guidelines to see what they ask for in submitting proposals.