The publisher Wiley has written guidance to help you on your journey from initial idea to published book. The following edited excerpt, printed with permission from Wiley, focuses on that nerve-wracking first step: writing your book proposal.

It’s one of the most exciting moments in a professional career. You have a new idea for a book that you think could make a real difference to your discipline.

The first step from idea to book is submitting a proposal to your Commissioning Editor. The proposal gives the editor key information to get the process started essentially, the who, the what, the why, and the how.

The who

  • Who will be writing the book?
    • Your name
    • Your position and affiliation
    • Your CV (also include brief bios for any co-authors or contributing authors)
    • Your contact details

The what

  • What type of publication will this be (e.g. a reference book, a textbook)?
  • What will your publication be about? Consider the following:
    • What’s your vision? How will this book benefit the academic community you work in?
    • Why would someone buy this book?
    • What’s special about it? Think about what makes your book unique (e.g. its major themes and approach).
    • How will it make a difference? Explain the unmet needs in your discipline, and the challenges you’re trying to address.
  • What is your proposed table of contents? Include chapters and subdivisions within chapters, plus any special materials to be included in the appendices.
  • If you’ve already produced a sample chapter, include it. If you have published other articles and books, attach a list of those materials too.
  • If you are proposing a reference work, please also include details about the frequency of any planned updates.

The why

  • Why is there a need for your proposed publication? Have there been changes in your field to cause a need for it, or is there a gap in the existing literature that needs to be filled?
  • Who most needs your book (the ‘primary market’)? Indicate the audience for this material (e.g. academic/research, graduate students, professionals). Be as specific as possible.
  • Who else needs your book (the ‘secondary market’)? What groups of people might have an occasional need for your material?
  • List in order of importance any professional societies or organisations that are likely to be part of the readership of your book.
  • Are there any similar publications to the one you are proposing? Think about their weaknesses and strengths, and how your publication stands out.

The how

  • How many words do you anticipate will be needed to fully cover your topic? How many pages of appendices?
  • What is the timeline for writing the book? How would this project fit into your other professional commitments? Give your potential publisher your best estimate for completing and delivering the final manuscript and supporting materials.

For more information on how to get from initial idea to published book, see Wiley’s page for book authors.

Content originally published by Wiley, and edited for the Society for the Study of Addiction website by Natalie Davies. The SSA is very grateful for the opportunity from Wiley to share this useful resource with its readership.

The opinions expressed in this post reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official positions of the SSA.

The SSA does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information in external sources or links and accepts no responsibility or liability for any consequences arising from the use of such information.