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Book Proposal Advice

(9 Posts)
LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 05-Oct-16 14:07:33

I'm aware this will be subject-dependent, so, I'm in English Lit.

I have three solid chapters of what will be a six-chapter book. These have all been through conference papers and similar, and I submitted a journal article that's the basis for part of one of them, a couple of months ago.

I also have another chapter that's drafted but not polished.

I have an idea of the final two chapters, but they need a lot of work and the shape of them will inevitably change quite a bit before they're ready.

I've spoken informally to a publisher and the editor of the publisher's series, and both were encouraging about the general topic. However, this will be my first book. It's skipped ahead of my PhD revisions, so the PhD book is considerably less publishable at this stage.

At what point would you submit a proposal?

I'm aware people submit proposals well before they've completed their books, but the people I know in RL published their PhDs first, so they had some credibility already. I'm credible in that I'm employed (coming to the end of a two-year teaching postdoc), but that is it!

Bountybarsyuk Wed 05-Oct-16 19:19:37

I would email and ask the publisher when they'd like to see a proposal. I don't know for your field, usually you have to send a couple of sample chapters, but this may vary. If that's the case, now's the ideal time to send it.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 05-Oct-16 19:28:08

Oh, yes, but that would be too simple. blush

Yes, I could email, and the publisher seems very friendly and approachable - I guess I just worry that I don't want to make myself look a total idiot if this is a real no-go situation.

Bountybarsyuk Wed 05-Oct-16 19:31:39

I think it's fine to email, though, and say you haven't done this before and are checking what format/amount of book they would like at the proposal stage.

It's better than waiting another year to finish it and finding out actually, they wanted to review it long before that stage. I had a draft outline reviewed, not even any chapters, but that was for a different discipline and type of book.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 05-Oct-16 19:34:22

Oh, that is interesting, thank you.

And yes, what you say makes perfect sense!

TrobadoraBeatrice Wed 05-Oct-16 19:34:52

Yes, ask the editor or publisher - I imagine for monographs they probably want more extensive sample chapters, especially when you haven't built up a track record of book-length publications, but I'd be surprised if they wouldn't be able to consider a proposal at the stage you are at, and readers' reports would be helpful to shape the volume at this stage before you do have the majority of it in finished form. I haven't pitched a monograph but have had a fair few edited volumes and these have usually had a contract before a word was written.

Closetlibrarian Thu 06-Oct-16 11:55:32

I think it's pretty standard in the humanities to submit the proposal along with two or three chapters (one of which would be the intro).

I would contact the publisher now.

OneFootinFront Thu 06-Oct-16 13:22:48

Depends on the publisher, IME. CUP requires the whole ms usually before they will contract. OUP tends to feed through Ox DPhils so they've seen an early version of ms. Other scholarly publishers vary: Routledge & Palgrave & Manchester UP & Ashgtte (presses I've read proposals for) generally want a proposal & a sample chapter.

You sound in a good position to send a proposal to your 1st preferred publisher. Most have a lot of information on their websites, including a proposal form.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 06-Oct-16 14:15:12

Thanks all - this is so useful. I'm feeling reassured I'm not doing something daft.

I have looked at various publishers' websites, including the one I'm keen on, but I was finding it quite hard to figure out what I have in hand compares with what they describe (if you see what I mean). Feeling more confident about just getting in touch now.

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