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  • Authors
    • Submitting a textbook proposal

Submitting a textbook proposal

We are very pleased that you are considering writing for Oxford University Press. What follows is a brief description of what the editors in the Higher Education Department might expect of a proposal for a new textbook and how they will consider it for publication.

These notes are full but not exhaustive, since many projects will be presented and evaluated in rather different ways and possibly at different stages. Do feel free to contact any of the editors for advice or information at any stage: contact details can be found at the bottom of this page. We will always be pleased to hear from you.

ExpandCloseThe outline proposal

The first thing you as an author should do is to prepare an outline proposal for your new book and send it to the appropriate commissioning editor (see below for contact details). The outline proposal should be as full as possible to enable the most effective evaluation and feedback on the project. Ideally this should include the following:

1. Provisional title of proposed textbook

2. Brief synopsis of the book

This should be about 500 words long and summarize the topic, your aims, scope, and general approach.

Statement of intent: If you had to capture the essence of your proposal in one or two sentences, what would you say?

Topic: Subject of proposed book and level within the undergraduate curriculum.

Aims:  Why is a new book needed? How will it meet the needs of lecturers and their students? That is, what challenges do lecturers face when teaching the course, and what challenges do students face when learning this subject? How will your book address these challenges?

General approach: How would you summarize your approach to the subject? How is it similar to or different from the approach(es) typically taken when teaching the subject?

Scope:  What is included? What is left out, and why? What prior knowledge will the book assume?

What makes the book stand out? What benefits will the book offer to lecturers and their students that will make it stand out from the existing texts?

3. The Market

Please summarize what you consider to be the market for your proposed book :

  • What is your target readership? (for example, ‘undergraduate computing students’, ‘students taking an optional third year module in cognitive neuroscience’)

For which courses will your book be appropriate? Suggest courses where:

  • the book could be the sole or principal required text
  • the book could be one of several required texts
  • the book could be supplementary reading

Please give an indication of where, to your knowledge, such courses are and how many people take them. If you believe that there are few applicable courses at this time, but that the text will fit an emerging market (i.e. where courses are likely to start appearing in considerable numbers over the next few years) then please indicate this.

Where do you see the principal markets for the book (e.g. UK, USA, Canada, Europe, Australasia and/or other)?

Where possible, please provide in a separate document names, positions, work addresses and e-mail addresses of people currently teaching courses for which this book would be appropriate. (This information will be for our own internal use only.)

4. Information on competing books

Please give a list of books (with as much information on length, date of publication, publisher, price, etc. as possible) that might be considered ‘competitors’ to your proposed book.

  • What are their strengths, weaknesses and availabilities?
  • How will your book differ from each? What advantages to lecturers and their students does the book you are proposing have over each of these titles?

5. Full outline

Please provide a list of chapters including the main subheadings in each, a short paragraph summarising the content of each chapter, and an estimate of the number of words in each chapter.

If illustrations are a major feature of your proposal, please specify the types (photographs/diagrams/tables) and approximate number in each chapter.

Pedagogical features
Please summarise the main pedagogical features that you anticipate including (for example, chapter summary, problems, glossary, further reading, web links etc.)

It is also useful to see some sample material which illustrates the writing style and the features you plan to use within the text. Please speak to the appropriate editor for more detail on this point.

Ancillary material
Please provide details of any ancillary material that should be provided alongside the book, together with an explanation of why these materials would add to the educational value of the book. For example, do you think it would be useful for the book to be supported by online resources offered via an accompanying web site? If so, what material would you envisage including on the site? How would this be integrated with the book itself?

We offer online resources with many of our textbooks. To see the scope of material offered on these sites then feel to browse for yourself online.

Likely schedule
Please indicate your expectation of the time required from the present stage to delivery of final typescript. Also, how quickly will the book date? How often would a new edition be required?

6. Author biography

Please include a brief author biography including:

  • Full name and qualifications of author(s)
  • Work address, telephone  and e-mail
  • Present appointments
  • Career to date, including an explanation of why your career to date puts you in a good position to write the book you are proposing.

ExpandCloseEvaluating the proposal

Evaluating the proposal is a two-step process:

  1. The OUP editor will invite comments on your proposal from a number of lecturers teaching in the area. These referees will remain anonymous, unless they wish otherwise.

    This process will usually take from six to eight weeks. Your editor will be in touch with a summary of the referees' comments as soon as they are complete and you will be asked for your reaction to these comments and whether you wish to amend your outline in response to them.

    It is also possible that, at this stage, you will be informed that OUP cannot publish your book.
  2. If reviews are broadly positive then costings for the proposed book (examining likely production and manufacturing costs, likely sales, and predicted revenue) will be drawn up. The proposal and associated estimated costs will then be presented at a departmental New Proposals meeting.

ExpandClosePutting the proposal to the Delegates of the Press

If approved at the New Proposals Meeting, the book will be submitted to the Delegates of the Press for consideration at their next meeting (the ‘Delegates Meeting’). 

(Oxford University Press remains a Department of the university, and all proposals must be approved by the Board of Delegates [a panel of academics from the university] before a contract can formally be offered.)

Your editor will let you know the Delegates’ decision about your proposal as soon as possible after their meeting.

ExpandCloseThe contract

If the Delegates encourage publication, your editor will send you a draft contract.  You should check that all the details of the contract (for example, details of authors, addresses, delivery date, division of royalties, payment for contributors) are correct and discuss them with your editor if necessary before returning it to OUP so a final version can be drawn up for your signature.

At this stage, your editor will discuss the writing schedule and development of the manuscript with you in more detail.

ExpandCloseThe writing process

We appreciate being kept informed of your progress and will be happy to give advice at any stage.

As chapters are written we are keen to read them and gain feedback from lecturers which we hope will be useful to you as you progress further with the project; with this in mind we will agree delivery dates for draft chapters during writing. It is usual for us to review most (if not all) draft chapters on first editions. 

Your editor will arrange calls or meetings with you periodically to discuss progress, and answer any queries that may arise during the manuscript preparation.

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