Authors: Book Proposal Guidelines

What Does UC Press Publish?

University of California Press is one of the largest, most distinguished, and most adventurous scholarly publishers in the world, respected for its creativity and renowned for attracting authors whose work transcends traditional academic boundaries to speak to people everywhere. For more than a century, UC Press has considered manuscripts from the world's foremost scholars, writers, artists, and public intellectuals. UC Press publishes annually about 200 new books and 40 multi-issue journals in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. About one-fourth of current authors are affiliated with the University of California.

Established in 1893, UC Press serves all ten campuses of the University of California, and is a department of the University of California Office of the President. All manuscripts undergo extensive peer-review, which includes outside readings by field experts. The imprint of UC Press is controlled by a faculty editorial committee composed of twenty members of the Academic Senate, which is representative of the ten campuses of the University, and this committee exercises the final acceptance of all books and periodicals published by UC Press.

University of California Press publishes general interest books, scholarly books, and textbooks in the broad categories listed with the editors names. We do not generally publish new fiction, religious inspiration or revelation, children's books, Festschriften, conference volumes, unrevised dissertations, or autobiographies.

How Do I Submit a Proposal?

After reviewing the areas in which we publish, please submit a query to a single editor through the online contact form. Please note that we are now also publishing in new subject areas as well as new types of books, from general interest, scholarly, and student textbooks. Please review the description of editors and their areas of acquisitions

Your query should include a brief description of the proposed book and the book’s intended audience. The editor will indicate if they would like to review a formal proposal or full manuscript, or will forward your note to the appropriate editor. Please do not send your query to more than one UC Press editor.

If you would like to submit to a particular series, please visit the series page for relevant submissions information.

Note that a book does not need to fit into a series to be considered for publication, however, it should fall within one of our existing publishing fields. To determine whether or not the press publishes in your field, please review the description of editors and their lists.

UC Press accepts simultaneous submissions, but requests that you keep the editor informed of the status of manuscripts submitted to other publishers.

While UC Press editors prefer electronic queries, you may send a hardcopy submission to:
[Editor’s name]
University of California Press
155 Grand Avenue
Suite 400
Oakland, CA 94612–3758

If you would like to have your hardcopy submission returned to you after consideration, please state this in writing, and include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Please do not send original art with your submission.

What Should Be in a Proposal?

A proposal should give the UC Press editors and marketing staff—most of whom will not be specialists in your area—clear and detailed idea of what your book will be about. Your initial submission should include a letter of introduction, a proposal that addresses the topics outlined below, your CV or resume, and a sample chapter or two. There is no set format, but a good proposal will include the things outlined below.

1. Brief Description

In two or three paragraphs, describe the work. This narrative description should identify the audience for which the book is envisioned, explain the proposed book's purpose, how it will achieve that purpose, and what you consider to be the outstanding, distinctive, or unique features of the work. Also include the relevant themes, arguments, contribution to scholarship, and place in the literature.

2. Market Consideration

For what type of reader is your book intended?

  • Scholars or specialists in your field, or in some particular area of a larger field, or an emerging field that has had little to no coverage?
  • If students, what course is this book for? What level of preparation do the students have? Are they majors, non-majors; freshmen, seniors, graduates? Are there any trends changing the way faculty teach and students learn in the course? What are the key learning outcomes for the course? Are most required readings from scholarly texts or a textbook with pedagogical features?
  • General readers without specialized knowledge in the field but interest in the content due to relevancy and currency of topic?

3. Outline / Table of Contents

Include a detailed outline of the book with paragraph-length descriptions of each chapter.

4. Apparatus / Illustrative Materials

  • Estimate the total word count of the completed book (including the main text, footnotes, bibliography, and any appendices).
  • Approximately how many photographs and/or line drawings (charts, graphs, diagrams, etc.) do you plan to include? If illustrations are planned, please send photocopies of sample art—do not send original photographs, artwork, negatives, or any materials that are irreplaceable.
  • Will the book include cases, questions, problems, glossaries, bibliography, references, appendices, etc.? If so, please describe and indicate how many of each.

5. Author Bio

  • Provide a brief author bio that discusses your qualifications for writing your book. 
  • Give examples of places where you publish.
  • If relevant, provide information about your platform. For example, do you have a website? Are you active on social media? Where do you give public lectures?

6. Comparable and Competing Volumes

  • Describe existing books in this field and spell out how your book will be similar to, as well as different from, these works. Discuss specifically their strengths and weaknesses, how your coverage may vary from the competing titles.
  • Please discuss each book in a separate paragraph. If possible, please provide the publisher and date of publication as well.
  • For works with a primarily scholarly audience, please discuss your project's place in the current scholarship and its distinctive contribution (although one can point out that there is no other book that addresses your particular topic, it is more useful to explain how exploring that topic advances current scholarly discussions).
  • For works that will be adopted for use in the classroom for a primarily student audience, discuss how your project’s coverage, approach, scholarship, or pedagogy provides a different perspective on how the topic is taught.
  • For works meant for general readers, discuss your project’s unique perspective and outline how it can be differentiated from other titles covering this topic. Consider sharing a “sales handle” or “elevator pitch”— 2-3 sentences that quickly states what’s special about your book compared to others.

7. Status of the Work

  • What portion or percentage of the material is now complete? When do you expect to have a complete manuscript?
  • Do you plan to include material requiring permission (text, music, lyrics, illustrations)? To what extent? Have you started the permissions request process?
  • If your work is intended to be adopted for use in the classroom, have you or other instructors assigned your materials to students? If yes, please describe what was done and what you learned.

8. Reviews

Please provide the names and contact details for three or four people whom you feel would be competent to review your material and whose opinion you would find valuable. We will try to use some of these along with our own selection. Naturally, we do not reveal the names of reviewers without their permission.

The Review Process

After receipt of your proposal, the sponsoring editor will review your materials and consider whether it is a good fit for the UC Press list. We make every effort to ensure that editorial decisions are made in a timely manner, but because UC Press receives hundreds of book proposals each year, it may take up to four months for a response to this initial submission. During the waiting period, UC Press editors do not accept phone queries regarding the status of your proposal.

If we are interested in your project, we will notify you of our interest and then commission outside reviewers to read and evaluate your proposal. At this stage, we may ask for additional materials. We will, of course, obtain the best available reviewers to consider your work. The review process typically takes up to four months, depending on, among other things, the nature of the project and the availability of reviewers.