Your Book Proposal - The Dos and Don'ts

Your book proposal is the vehicle to provide us with a clear and succinct idea of your project. Our editors will then consider this form, and where necessary discuss it with another editor, and then may send it for review by one or more external advisers.

Therefore it is imperative that you consider your proposal document and provide as detailed information as possible. To aid in this task our editors have come up with a number of Do's and Don'ts for your proposal.

Before you submit your proposal consider the following:

Do...

  • ...research publishers to decide which are most suitable to consider your proposal and look for what proposal materials they require.
  • ...proof-read your proposal.

Don't...

Do's and Don'ts for each section of the proposal form

Title and subtitle

Do...

  • ...be clear – focus on the keywords that will increase discoverability and search optimisation.

Don't...

  • ...be abstract or obtuse.
  • ...expect to be able to change your title at the last minute – bibliographic information about your book will be fed out to the market well in advance of publication.

Brief description

Do...

  • ...aim to grab the reader’s attention.
  • ...focus on the following questions: What is the book about? How is it distinctive? What does it offer that other books don’t? What needs does it satisfy?

Don't...

  • ...assume specialist subject knowledge on the part of the editor – most editors work across a broad list.

Table of contents and chapter outline

Do...

  • ...be as detailed as possible (approximately 300 to 400 words per chapter) including the introduction and conclusion.

Don't...

  • ...restate the chapter outline of your thesis – make sure that you are outlining the proposed content of your monograph.

Market and competition

Do...

  • ...look at the market from the publisher’s perspective.
  • ...make clear how your proposal relates to each competing book – how it differs and how it will extend the debate.
  • ...provide evidence of the interest in your field and include academic and professional associations.
  • ...include existing books from the publisher to demonstrate awareness of its programme.

Don't...

  • ...write ‘there is no competition’ – this translates as ‘there is no market.’
  • ...assume that ‘a general audience’ will be interested in your proposed book; most monographs are for an academic audience and that is appropriate.
  • ...write disparagingly about competing books.

Additional information

Do...

  • ...be realistic about the submission date and expected word count: Do you have a timetable for completing the book? What portion of the manuscript is already completed?
  • ...show awareness about copyright and permissions – think carefully about whether you really need to include third-party material
  • ...suggest peer reviewers who know your subject and anticipated markets, particularly if your research is likely to appeal to a specific geographical region.

Don't...

  • ...suggest close colleagues or PhD supervisors/examiners as peer reviewers.

The profound ideas here will spark many conversations, and it's still rare to find a business book that really understands what HR does rather than talking in generalisms. Anyone thinking about the future of HR, and how to ensure it is more than merely reactive, will enjoy this immensely.

People Management on Do We Need HR?