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Scholarly Publishing

Provides information about journals, books, and open access for authors looking to publish scholarly works.

Choosing a Publisher

The process of publishing a book generally begins with discussions with an acquisitions editor of a press. This is an important relationship, where an editor can be a source of valuable guidance throughout the publishing process. 

In exploring publishers and finding an editor, many of the same considerations about audience and scope that apply to finding a journal publisher apply:

  • What is the audience for my book? Where does that audience go when they want to read something new in their field?
  • Where have colleagues in my field submitted their work?
  • Where was the material I cite in my manuscript published?
  • If I wanted to books articles on a similar topic, where would I find them?
  • Is my book in scope for a journal of interest?
  • Many university publishers will have a “What we publish” page which outlines their topical scope within a given field. Find that information about your desired publication, and read it carefully. Here is an example from the SUNY Press.
  • Does the publisher produce material that is accessible to users of all abilities?
  • What is the publisher's reputation?
  • What are the publisher's policies related to submission and open access?

Other strategies for identifying a publisher include talking to mentors and colleagues and researching publishers' and editors' active interests and reviewing their current catalogs. What kinds of books on which topic areas are they known for publishing? 

The following resources may be helpful in finding a suitable press:

  • The Association of University Presses keeps a record of which of their presses publish on which topics.
  • Lever Press is dedicated to born-digital, peer reviewed, open access monograph publishing. It is supported by a large group of liberal arts colleges.
  • The University of Michigan Press is part of the U-M Library and publishes over 100 books a year written by authors from around the world. Acquisition editors at the Press offer informal guidance to U-M faculty and graduate students to help identify appropriate publishing venues. 
  • Contact librarians and Subject Specialists at the University of Michigan Library. Librarians in your subject area can help you work through the questions above and find other scholarship in your field and may be able to help you find discipline-specific resources on where to publish.

Writing a Book Proposal

When preparing a book proposal, check for a proposal-writing guide on the website of your desired publisher. Many publishers provide guidance in this area. University presses will commonly request a statement that includes the following information (taken from the website of the University of Michigan Press):

  • the purpose or rationale of your book (for projects in social sciences, please include references to your sources and methodology);
  • similar or competing books in the field;
  • the audiences you envision for your book and the contributions your work offers;
  • why you think your manuscript is suited to the University of Michigan Press's list;
  • the length of the manuscript and the number of illustrations incorporated;
  • your timetable for completion of the project (if it is already finished, indicate that as well);
  • a table of contents;
  • an outline of your chapters (this should be no more than a paragraph or two describing the content of each chapter);
  • an introduction or detailed overview of your project; if you have no introduction, please supply a sample chapter (or other material); and
  • a curriculum vitae or resume for all authors or volume editors; for edited volumes, a list of your contributors along with their professional affiliations.

These resources provide general advice on writing book proposals:

Peer Review in Book Publishing

The peer review process for books is similar to that of articles (see Peer Review for Articles). The Best Practices for Peer Review handbook (2022, Association of University Presses) was written by and for scholarly publishers -- it also provides a valuable overview of the peer review process for authors, reviewers, and publishers alike. 

From Dissertation to Book

Some resources that may be helpful for turning a dissertation into a book include:

The University of Michigan requires the deposit of dissertations in the U-M institutional repository, Deep Blue. This allows for long-term preservation and, in the vast majority of cases, open access. There is little evidence to support the view that placing your dissertation online interferes with subsequently publishing your work as a book. Research indicates that publishers do consider manuscripts that are revised versions of openly-accessible dissertations. See Ramirez, M. L., Dalton, J. T., McMillan, G., Read, M., & Seamans, N. H. (2013). Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities? Findings from a 2011 Survey of Academic Publishers. College and Research Libraries, 74(4), 368–380.