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Book materials to submit for review

Started by Sun_Worshiper, August 24, 2023, 12:36:28 PM

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Book-writing veterans:

Having seen my book proposal and agreed to some updates, the publisher has requested materials to go out for review - those being the proposal itself and some number of sample chapters. I have also been asked to provide a list of potential reviewers.

This is my first book project and I could use advice on a couple of things:

First, how do you pick which chapters to submit as samples? I have written drafts of the introductory chapter and two others. Collectively these frame the manuscript and lay out its theoretical and conceptual contributions, however they do not really get into the empirics. Is this sufficient or am I asking for trouble by not providing some empirical work as well?

Second, do you have any advice for selecting reviewers? Is the expectation that I will be picking friends and allies or is this like tenure letter writers where I avoid anyone that I have formally worked with before?

Thank you for any advice you may have!


First, congratulations! The fact that the press is asking you for this means they see some potential in what you've sent them.

In terms of which chapters to submit, I would submit what you think shows your project in the best light. I would say that your letter should make the arguments why your book is important and your chapter should actually start doing what you say the book will do--instead of more telling about the book.

(I am not sure what field you are in. If you have two chapters that set out the theoretical and conceptual contributions of the study but do not get into the study itself, you might want to consolidate them into an introductory chapter. But again, I really cannot say without reading your stuff or knowing your field.)

For reviewers, I would say select people who work in similar areas who are not likely to be terrible hostile and hopefully even likely to be favorable to your approach. See if the press has any guidelines--for my book, I listed any relationship I had with the person.

At the end of the day for my latest book, it didn't matter. The press happened to choose two professors at the school affiliated with the press. (Which happens also to be the school I studied at as an undergraduate, so one of the peer reviewers was one of my undergraduate professors.) (As this indicates, at least for my last book, the review was not blind.)

Again, congratulations and good luck!


I would send out the chapters you have in order: for instance: Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2. That way the reviewers can have the experience of actual future readers reading the book. If you send out, say, Chapters 4 and 6, you'll probably get remarks like "Concept X was not fully explored," when actually Concept X would have been fully explored in the absent Chapter 5. You just want to give a sense of whether you can develop an argument, include relevant examples, and all that, and contiguous chapters are the best way to demonstrate that.


Thanks, jerseyjay and Hegemony!

Follow up question:

I submitted the proposal and three chapters to the editor and these materials are now under review. I am wondering if I should continue chipping away at the manuscript, as I presented it in the proposal, or if it is better to just wait to see what the reviewers have to say. My concern is that I'll write a chapter and then reviewers or the editor will tell me to drop that proposed chapter in favor of something else.

Any thoughts or experiences that could offer me guidance would be greatly appreciated!


Yes, I'd keep working at the MS. Writing a book takes long enough without any deliberate waiting around. The reviewers may suggest changes at this point, I guess, but probably not too many changes to the chapters they haven't read (the chapters you would be writing next), because it's hard to criticize something when you've only read a summary. Revisions are a natural part of the process, but I think it's good to get the thing written sooner rather than later.


Yes, keep working. The more you do now, the less you have to do later, under the pressure of a deadline.

If you have to bin anything, you can always publish it as a standalone article.
I know it's a genus.

Wahoo Redux

Keep working.

If this publisher makes the egregious mistake and does not send you a contract then a much better publisher will.

Best of luck.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing.