Q. What makes a complete submission package?
A. Please send a letter of introduction that concisely offers the key facts about your manuscript. Include with it your table of contents, a project description, and your curriculum vitae. We also welcome a sample chapter, but please do not send us your complete manuscript until we ask you to do so.
Q. What should my project description cover?
A. There is no set format, but a good project description (or book proposal, as it is also called), will include an accessible overview of the work, a concise chapter-by-chapter summary, an account of your book’s relationship to comparable or competing works, your assessment of your book’s audience, and practical details including length, number of illustrations, and the status of the work. All this should be accomplished in 5-10 pages. For suggestions on project descriptions and other elements of a submission, we highly recommend chapter 5 of William Germano’s Getting It Published.
Q. I’m not sure if you are publishing in my field. May I send a quick e-mail to find out?
A. We would much rather receive a proper submission at the outset. To see what kinds of books we publish, good places to start are our subject index and acquisitions editors’ profiles. If you think there’s a good chance that we would be interested in your work, send along a full proposal and supporting material by e-mail or post.
Note that there are many kinds of books that we do not publish. Our editorial program is focused on certain fields and styles of scholarship. (See William Germano, chapter 4: “Selecting a Publisher” in Getting It Published.) We do not normally consider unrevised dissertations, and we do not publish Festschriften. We do not consider works of original fiction.
Q. My work is interdisciplinary and should interest several of your editors. May I write to more than editor?
A. No, please don’t. Writing to more than one editor at a press can sow confusion and is considered bad form in publishing. If an editor thinks that your project would be more suited to a colleague, he or she will forward it. If you are uncertain who is the most likely editor to be interested in your work, please send your proposal to one of our editorial directors.
Q. How long should I expect to wait for a response to my initial submission?
A. You may hear from us very quickly, but you should expect to hear in three to four weeks. If you have not heard within a month from the editor to whom you submitted your project, feel free to send a query by e-mail.
Q. If you aren’t publishing original fiction, what explains all the fiction I see on your list?
A. We publish fiction in two categories: First, classic novels that have been published first elsewhere (and usually have gone out of print), as in the works of Anthony Powell, Richard Stark, Paul Scott, and Leon Forrest. Second, fiction in translation, as in works by Thomas Bernhard, Jurek Becker, and Marguerite Yourcenar. Our forays into original fiction have been limited to A River Runs Through It and Other Stories (1976), by Norman Maclean, and three novels by historian of religion Lee Siegel—works that we published as complementary to his scholarly books. Currently we are not considering original fiction.
Q. What is your policy on considering poetry manuscripts?
A. Our Phoenix Poets series is closed to unsolicited submissions, and at present we are not considering contemporary poetry outside the context of the series.
Q: Do you issue reprints or revised editions of older books?
A. Yes, we often consider such projects. If we can obtain paperback rights and identify a continuing readership for a book, and if the project meets with approval from our faculty Board, we reprint books in all the fields we publish in except poetry. Our reprint list includes biography and fiction; contact our reprints editor, David B. Olsen, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. I want to ask about distribution, on behalf of my institution or publishing house. Whom should I contact?