How to Pitch a University Press Editor

Oxford UP

Great stuff here from Rachel Toor at The Chronicle of Education.  If you are making a first pitch to a university press you need to read her piece, “What to Say (and Not to Say) in Query Letters to Book Editors.”

A taste:

Touch on the marketing. These days even authors of scholarly books must think about sales. “I want to know who you conceive of as your audience and the market for the book,” says Schneider of the University of California Press. “If you have a big public or social-media presence, please mention this as well. Increasingly publishers ally with authors to promote books online, so an author’s ability to reach out to a constituency is important.”

Consider this query letter template. So how do you do all that in an initial letter? And how long should it be?

One page, says Schneider, who offers a useful template:

  • Paragraph No. 1: “Situate the book project broadly, and clearly outline the subject and thesis. You need to state what is new, original, and exciting about this project as well. In this context it would be helpful to get your view of the potential market and whether comparative books already exist. Of course, tell me how your book differs from them.”
  • Paragraph No. 2: “Go into a bit more detail about the ins and outs of the study and when the manuscript might be completed.”
  • Paragraph No. 3: “Talk about who you are and give me the highlights of your professional credentials.”
  • Closing: “End with an action item. Tell me that you can send a full book proposal and a sample chapter, for instance. End with a particular ‘ask’ so I know how to follow up.”

Read the entire piece here.