Preparing book proposals for scholarly publishers


So you want to write a book?

We have no doubts one of our talented undergraduate students could be the next Andy Griffiths, Paul Jennings or Colleen McCullough.

But we aren’t talking about a novel or popular nonfiction. We are talking about a scholarly book; a book with authority, usually written by a professional or someone with say a PhD.

And they are a different kettle of fish entirely. So this post is more for those students or staff members who hold an advanced degree looking to write a scholarly publication. Yes, HDR students, we mean you.

Before you write your entire book on Goblinproofing one’s chicken coop (it’s a real book!), you need to submit a book proposal to a scholarly publisher.

University of St. Thomas, scholar, Dr Stephen Brookfield says there are three stages involved in submitting a book proposal to a scholarly publisher (Handbook of Research on Scholarly Publishing and Research Methods 2014, p.1).

‘The first is to overcome one’s sense of impostorship, the feeling that books are written by “real” academics with startling original things to say’, he says.

‘The second is to write the proposal itself. This involves describing the genesis of the idea for the book, establishing a strong rationale as to why the book ought to be published and summarizing its succinct purpose’.

‘The final stage is to select and then approach a publisher’ says Dr Brookfield.

To find out more, read Dr Brookfield’s chapter on ‘Preparing book proposals for scholarly publishers’, in the Handbook of Research on Scholarly Publishing and Research Methods (available as an eBook via Proquest’s eBrary database).

He describes all stages in detail and provides multiple examples drawn from book proposals that were accepted.