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MAUDE RABIU GWADABE
R00M B1-182, FIRST FLOOR, DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION,
BAYERO UNIVERSITY KANO
MAC 2212: INTRODUCTION TO BOOK PUBLISHING
• Research: sharing new findings to wider audiences.
• Market Gap:
• Teaching a course
• Successful books
Decide the type of book
• Textbooks supplementary, monograph, handbook, study skills, professional, trade.
• visit a good bookshop & look at similar books in the same area . Talk to the buyer in the appropriate section of the
bookshop if you can, as they will know what customers are looking for.
• Get a sense of the market - how do the books look, what style are they written in, who are they aimed at, how long
are they? Find out what competition you have, and think about what your book can offer that others do not.
• Ask colleagues or students what they would find useful in a publication covering the area you want to write in (this
will help shape the content of your publication). Decide whether or not you’ll work on the idea alone or with a
colleague or number of colleagues
• Look online for courses and organizations that relate to your area. If you are proposing a textbook, make sure your
proposed contents will be a good match for similar courses in other universities
• Look on Amazon to try to work out what the best-selling books are in your area and see what you can learn from
the contents/style/features of the best-sellers
• Find publishers interested in your type of book.
• Send short proposal outlining rough ideas (2-3 pages)
• Get a feel for what they are looking for and whether they are interested in
• If they are interested, you’ll be asked to submit a full proposal usually in a pro
forma document supplied by the publisher.
• Presents a convincing rationale for your text. It clearly delineates the text’s objectives
and the benefits and advantages it provides to students and to instructors vis-à-vis
what is currently available.
• One of the main things you must convey in your proposal is why your approach—
and the main ideas that animate the project—fill a current need in the market. You
will want to very clearly lay out the reasons for why an instructor would be
persuaded to switch to your book.
• Even for self-publishers it helps in clarifying your own thinking about the subject
before embarking on the actual writing.
Book Proposal Content
Different publishers stress different aspects of the proposal but they basically
concern the following aspects:
• The Content: What is the book about?
• The Market: Who will buy this book?
• The Author: Why are you the best possible author for this book?
• Premise: Basic concept of the book usually identifying a need and proposing
• Unique Selling Proposition: What benefit the reader will get from reading
• Overview: General description of the book identifying major sections.
• Manuscript: When do you expect to finish? Are there charts/graphs/tables/
illustrations/pictures? Anticipated number of pages/words.
• Characteristics: gender, age, educational level, socio-economic status, geographic
location, religious affiliation, etc.
• Motivations: why would the reader want to buy your book? What are their
frustrations? What do they expect to get out of your book?
• Affinity Groups: Groups that will have a natural affection or feeling of kinship with
your book. e.g. members of a profession, listeners to a program, or subscribers to a
• Competition: is there a proven market for this kind of book, if so, how does your
book differ from other books like it?
• Background: Describe your background as it relates to the subject of your
book. You may include a resume.
• Previous Writing: If you’ve written before explain, if not, there is always a
• Personal Marketing: What important contacts do you have that might be
willing to endorse the book? Do you presently teach the subject? Are you
planning to write articles on the topic? Do you have any regular media
opportunities? Do you have an online platform?
• In addition to part / section and chapter titles, provide headings and subheadings for each
chapter. The more information you can provide here, the more substantive the feedback
reviewers can offer and the more constructive advice you will be able to incorporate into a first
• Include any planned features as part of your chapter headings /subheadings so that reviewers can
see how you will be integrating those important elements into each chapter.
• In addition, describe in as much detail as possible, the contents and approach of each chapter.
This descriptive element will provide reviewers with as complete a picture of the book as possible
at this point.
• Include one or two sample chapters in your submission to the publisher.
• Your proposal will be sent out to a selection of external readers, who will
assess the project on a number of points such as suitability of content for
the intended market, market need for the product, suitability of writing style
• A decision is made on whether to take your project forward (usually to an
editorial meeting) to get you an offer to publish OR your material is felt to be
unsuitable and your project is declined
• Your proposal will be presented and defended by the commissioning editor, and they are
likely to be interrogated on the pros and cons of publishing your proposal by senior
representatives from Marketing, Sales, Production and by the Editorial director. During the
meeting, the commissioning editor serves essentially as your advocate and defender
• The editorial cttee are concerned with investigating the probable profitability of the
proposal (no editorial board will publish a book they expect will make a loss). The
profitability of your proposal will be assessed in relation to the fit of your proposal to the
market, the quality of writing, the expected costs of production (dependent on length of
ms, number of colours, figures etc) and the size and habits of the market. As a consequence,
some extremely good proposals will be rejected because the market is too small, or the book
is too large to be profitable, regardless of the book’s internal merits
• The editorial cttee present at the meeting will also suggest changes (make the
book shorter, for instance, or make it more international) and will suggest
contract terms or contract clauses to the editor. Often, the issue of a
contract is dependent on an author agreeing to these changes or these
Deciding to Publish
• Estimating Sales Potential: depending on effective market demand and
previous sales records.
• Obtaining Preliminary Costings: Fixed costs & Variable costs.
• Calculating Optimum Print Run: depending on market size, expected market
share, speed of reprint, speed of sales, etc.
• Determining the Price: Production cost plus profit.
You will be offered a contract to publish the book and the following terms will need to
be agreed upon:
• delivery date for final manuscript
• size of book
• title of book
• royalty rate
• advance against royalty rate
Contracts will of course cover all sorts of other details.