Submitting a Book Proposal

If you would like to submit your proposal by email, please check with the appropriate editor before doing so, as different editors have different submission requirements and review schedules. The guidelines below offer general suggestions for the preparation of publication proposals, but you should check with the editor by sending an inquiry first. The inquiry, which may be sent by post or email, should simply describe the project, the author, and the reasons for writing the book- in a few paragraphs. Do not send actual manuscripts, sample chapters, or attachments with images to editors unless you are specifically invited to do so.

List of editors and their subject areas.

In preparing your proposal, bear in mind that The MIT Press needs to know as much as possible about your book, including its scope, its intended audience, and how we can promote the book to that audience. We also need to be convinced that you can present what you have to say in a way that will be useful, interesting and important to your readers.

Your proposal should generally include the following four items:

  1. prospectus describing your intentions.
  2. A detailed table of contents.
  3. Two to four sample chapters that demonstrate the clarity and precision of your prose and the appeal of your expository strategy. (Check with individual editor first.)
  4. An up-to-date curriculum vita or resumé.

1. The Prospectus

The prospectus should include the following:

  • Brief Description
    • In one or two paragraphs, describe the work, its rationale, approach and pedagogy.
  • Outstanding Features
    • List briefly what you consider to be the outstanding, distinctive or unique features of the work.
  • Competition
    • Consider the existing books in this field and discuss their strength and weaknesses, individually and specifically. This material is written for reviewers and not for publication, so please be as frank as possible. You should describe how your book will be similar to, as well as different from, the competition in style, topical coverage, and depth. If significant books are now available, you should explain why you choose to write another book in this area. Please mention all pertinent titles, even if they compete only with a part of your book.
  • Apparatus
    • Will the book include examples, cases, questions, problems, glossaries, bibliography, references, appendices, etc.?
    • Do you plan to provide supplementary material (solutions, answers, workbook, laboratory manual or other material) to accompany the book?
  • Audience
    • For whom is the book intended (the lay public, professionals, students, etc.)?
    • In what discipline or disciplines?
    • Is it primarily descriptive or quantitative, elementary or rigorous, etc.?
    • Prerequisites, if any (mathematical level, any applicable)?
  • Authors
    • Provide relevant information about your research, professional qualifications, or other aspects of your background. What makes you the right person (or the right author team) to write about this topic?
  • Market Considerations
    • What kind of person will buy the book, and why? What new information will the book give them to justify its cost?
    • What is your estimate of the total market for the book?
    • If you are aware of professional organizations or mailing lists that would be useful in promoting the book, please mention them.
  • Status of the Book
    • What portion of the material is now complete?
    • When do you expect to have your manuscript completed?
    • What is the planned length of the book in words?
    • How many and what figures (drawings, half-tones, charts, etc.) do you plan to include?
  • Reviewers
    • We may use reviewers of our own choice, but we will also try to include some whose opinion you feel will be valuable. Please suggest a few and clarify your relationship (if any) with each person suggested. If the book has several distinct markets, try to recommend at least one reviewer for each.
    • Naturally, we do not reveal the names of our reviewers without their permission. If you desire, we will submit the material to the reviewers anonymously.

2. Table of Contents

The table of contents should be complete and detailed. Explanatory notes should be included as necessary. This enables the reviewers to understand the structure and content of the manuscript.

3. Sample Chapters

If you are invited to submit sample chapters, they should be in sufficiently good condition to allow a valid assessment of your capability, but they need not be in final form. You should include rough sketches of all necessary figures. Ideally, about one-fourth of the work should be submitted, but the chapters need not be in sequence. It is advisable to submit any chapter that is particularly innovative. The material submitted should reflect your writing style and pedagogy in the best possible light.

4. Curriculum Vita

If requested, supply a curriculum vita outlining your education, previous publication and professional experience.

Suggested Reading for Nonfiction Authors

Rabiner, Susan and Alfred Fortunato, Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction—and Get it Published (Norton, 2003). Advice from an experienced book editor and literary agent on how to write a proposal and a manuscript that will appeal to editors at trade publishing houses as well as at university presses.

Germano, William, Getting it Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious About Serious Books, third edition (University of Chicago Press, 2016). Written for academic authors seeking publication by university presses, this is a helpful overview of the entire publication process with advice for approaching publishers, negotiating a contract, surviving the peer review process, and other matters.