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Academic Coaching & Writing

Academic Book Proposals

Academic Book Proposal Template

Academic book proposals typically contain six basic types of information. It is important to understand the purpose of each section because different presses use slightly different terms for each section. The following captures what they have in common.

Introduction. The Introduction describes your topic, your overall message, and the scope of your topic.

Rationale. The Rationale explains why your book is needed, its significance in the field, and how it fits with your target press’s catalogue.

Structure. The Structure details your plan of organization for the book, often through a Table of Contents. It includes a listing of tables, figures, and similar types of materials.

Competing Works. The Competing Works summarizes how your book fits into the marketplace of ideas on this topic, how it is like other major works on this topic, and what it offers that those works do not.

Status of the Project. The Status of the Project describes how much of the research and writing already is done, when you expect a final draft to be ready for peer reviewers, and how long the manuscript is expected to be (the word count).

Author’s Background. The Author's Background conveys why you are the right person to write your book through a narrative summary of your bio, your CV, or both.

Download the ACW Book Proposal template to learn how to prepare your proposal.



Academic book proposal submissions include:

  • A cover letter,
  • The book proposal, and
  • A writing sample, such as one or two chapters.

Authors should visit their target press’s website and read their guidelines for book proposal submissions because requirements vary substantially. For example, check out the differing guidelines from two excellent university presses.

To learn more about university press publishing and find academic presses interested in your topic, visit the website of the American Association of University Presses.

To learn more about what how university presses work, read this blog post from the University of Minnesota Press.

Recommended Books for Academic Authors

Writing Successful Academic Books by Anthony Haynes (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Gettting It Published by William Germano (University of Chicago Press, 2001)

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