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The Book Proposal: A Guide for Faculty in the Early Stages of Developing a Book

This guide was created for a faculty-led workshop using faculty-created materials and suggested resources.

Resources for authors

On writing a book proposal

The Professor is In: How to Write a Book Proposal

Writers in the Mountains: Hold workshops for all kinds of writing in the Catskills region.


You can actually get a grant to produce a book proposal. Example:

Book Agents

Finding a book agent:

Publisher-created Resources

SUNY Press: How to Submit a Book Proposal

Sage: How to Get Published [webinar series]


Have more resources to add? Contact the librarian listed on this guide. 

Basics of book proposals

General Notes: The Proposal Itself

  • The Table of Contents is important – editors may look there first.
  • You need a compelling point to justify a book.
  • Ask big questions beyond just your narrow focus.
  • Mention comparable books.
  • Need at least two decent chapters to pitch.

Contacting Editors

  • For every press, you have to find the right editor for your area.
  • Make things as easy as possible on the editor – send everything in one big go, not multiple emails. No separate query. Include the proposal, CV, sample chapters. Include contact info in the email.
  • Set up meetings at a conference about 3-4 weeks in advance.


Varies by publisher, but one example:

  1. The proposal goes out for review along with two completed chapters (you can recommend reviewers or those to be avoided).
  2. Then it goes to the editorial board. If approved:
  3. Write the Book.
  4. The book goes out to review (typically different reviewers but this varies).
  5. Revisions.
  6. Production (9-12 months).