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Writing Book Proposals

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In this presentation, author Gavin D. J. Harper shares some advice on writing effective book proposals.

In this presentation, author Gavin D. J. Harper shares some advice on writing effective book proposals.

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Writing Book Proposals Writing Book Proposals Presentation Transcript

  • Gavin D. J. Harper
    • The book proposal sets out your stall for what you are going to do with your book.
    • The more information the better, however bear in mind that you are preparing a ‘proposal’ not a finished manuscript.
    • The following follows the headings and structure of some typical book proposals. Run through this list and ensure you have mentioned everything on it!
    • Name(s) [If a co-authored work]
    • Address, telephone number email & fax
    • Current position
    • CV, Qualifications, Relevant Professional Affilliations
    • Possible referees
    • Supporting material (list of previous publications, sample chapters, lecture notes, journal articles)
    • Who will be the copyright holder?
    View slide
    • What will the book be about?
    • What material does it cover?
    • What will its main argument be?
    • Why is this book necessary?
    • How is the book original?
    • Unique Selling Points
    View slide
    • Provisional title
    • Provisional table of contents
    • Short descriptions of the contents of chapters
    • Provisional word length
    • Figures, tables and illustrations
    • Provisional manuscript submission date
    • Details of any deadlines we should be aware of, e.g. an impending conference, meeting or book launch
    • For whom is the book intended?
    • Why will they buy this book?
    • What level is it aimed at (undergraduates/postgraduates/academics & researchers/activists & policy-makers, general readers)?
    • Will the book be a main text, supplementary reading, a research monograph or aimed at the general book trade (please choose one)?
    • What existing books compete with this one?
    • How will this book differ from the competition?
    • How you can help promote and market the book?
    • Is there a sample chapter?
    • Has any of the work been published before?
    • What professional / academic categories doe the book best fit in?
    • What sort of book?
        • Extending theoretical understanding?
        • Policy Analysis?
        • Practical How-To?
        • Polemic?
        • Professional Guide?
        • Synthesis?
        • Monograph?
        • Edited Collection?
        • Reference Work?
        • Report?
        • Handbook?
        • Field Guide?
    • Is there a sample chapter?
    • Has any of the work been published before?
    • What professional / academic categories doe the book best fit in?
    • What sort of book? – Extending theoretical understanding? Policy Analysis? Practical How-To? Polemic? Professional Guide? Synthesis?
    • Is there a sample chapter?
    • Has any of the work been published before?
    • What professional / academic categories doe the book best fit in?
    • What sort of book? – Extending theoretical understanding? Policy Analysis? Practical How-To? Polemic? Professional Guide? Synthesis?
    • Geographic Appeal
      • What international market are you writing for?
      • Check that the publisher sells into this market?
      • Consider ‘optimising your book’ for different markets, for example, by using U.S. spelling for a North American book, or by putting amounts in Euros for a pan-European book.
      • Consider weights / measures / currency / mains voltages… the sort of things that will limit your books appeal to a narrow geographical area, and consider what you can do to get around this.
    • What is the ‘need’ for your book?
      • Gap in the marketplace?
      • Gap in the literature?
      • Books on the subject out of date?
    • HOW DOES YOUR BOOK ADDRESS THIS NEED?
    • Know thy enemy!
    • Use Amazon.com by typing in relevant search terms to find competing books.
    • Make sure your puiblisher knows that you have a good command of the literature and a good understanding of the titles your book will be competing with.
    • Make a list of Author, Title, ISBN number & Price
    • Make a case for why your work will work best in the format of a book, as opposed to:
      • A journal article
      • Magazine Article
      • Web Delivery
    • Give your editor some idea about how your text is going to translate into a finished book in production.
    • Think carefully about…
      • Word Count
      • Page Count
      • Size of Book
    • Will your book contain the following:
      • Foreword
      • Preface
      • References
      • Footnotes / Endnotes
      • Bibliography
      • Glossary
      • Annex(es)
      • Reading List
    • Describe this material!
    • Illustrations / Graphs / Diagrams
      • Describe the number of:
        • Photographs
        • Line Drawings / Figures
        • Maps / Floor Plans
        • Tables
        • Graphs
        • Flow Charts
        • Formulae
      • Consider the need for colour
    • Consider any special specifications regarding:
      • Size of the book
      • Type of binding
      • Inclusion of a CD
      • Colour / Black & White
    • Provide a schedule that you can stick to.
    • Think about time needed to:
      • Prepare text
      • Prepare images
      • Check thoroughly
      • Check thoroughly again
      • Upload Information
      • Deal with unexpected circumstances that may arise