GETTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT ACCEPTED
Submitting a Proposal
Before you submit a complete manuscript to UBC Press, we require a formal book proposal. The proposal provides the entire editorial staff, as well as the Press Director, with a document to evaluate your manuscript, audience, and its production needs. It also gives you a chance to describe your manuscript's strengths and unique features, and to explain why UBC Press would be the suitable publisher. The proposal itself does not need to be long – in general, they are between 6 and 12 pages. Remember, the more engagingly written the proposal, the more likely we are to engage with it.
Outline of a Proposal
- Address your proposal to the correct editor at the Press. For a listing of contacts, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
- Describe your research in a page or two, eschewing academic jargon and presenting the main thrust of your work clearly and simply.
- Provide an annotated table of contents. Chapter descriptions should be three to five lines long.
- Describe any similar books published and how yours would stand apart. Into what disciplinary conversation does your work take part?
- Mention any books on UBC Press’s list that are complementary to yours.
- Identify your audience. If you think there will be course use, list a handful of courses across the country and provide their enrollment figures where possible. If you think that it will be an important scholarly monograph, explain its contribution to the discipline(s).
- If applicable, let us know about the genesis of the work as a thesis. When did you defend and who was on the committee? What major revisions are you going to undertake before submitting it to the Press?
Click here for thesis revision guidelines.
- If you are the editor of a multi-authored volume, please explain the cross-referenced, integrated, thematically focused nature of the work. It is essential that there is a dialogue between chapters and that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – and you should describe exactly how that is so.
Click here for collection advice.
Click here for suggestions to send to your contributors.
- If part of the manuscript consists of previously published material (in article form, or in other anthologies, for example), identify how much this is, and what major changes you intend to make to this material. Note that no more than 25% of this material should have appeared elsewhere.
- Include your curriculum vitae.
- Say when the manuscript will be sent to the Press, ready for review. Make sure you’ve set a realistic deadline. There is no point in offering a tighter deadline than you can handle.
- Give a word count for the manuscript and indicate whether there is any other apparatus, i.e., photos, tables, graphs, figures, or maps. If illustrative material is included, explain why it is necessary for the book.
Successful proposal sample #1
Successful proposal sample #2
When we receive the proposal, the acquisitions editor to whom you sent it will acknowledge receipt and let you know when the next acquisitions meeting is scheduled to take place. After the meeting, if your manuscript fits our list, the editor will invite you to submit it for review. Please note that a manuscript can only be in review with one publisher at a time. Also, if you are the volume editor of a multi-authored collection, all your contributors should be told that you are submitting the manuscript to UBC Press.
At this point, you may wish to schedule a phone meeting with your acquisitions editor, so that s/he can guide you through each step of the approval process. It is very helpful if you understand what is entailed before the process begins. Before sending the manuscript to reviewers, you may wish to send some sample material to your editor for feedback. Please consult her or him about this first.
The first formal stage of manuscript appraisal is peer review. Your work will be assessed by a minimum of two experts in the field. Among other things, manuscript reviewers will be asked whether your work makes an original contribution to the field, whether the scholarship is sound and up to date, whether the material is presented effectively, and what its intended audience is.
Although peer review may appear challenging (especially if your work requires more than one round of review), authors almost always find that the combination of working closely with a good editor and carefully incorporating readers’ suggestions can be one of the most positive aspects of creating a scholarly book.
For peer review, please submit the complete manuscript as an MS Word file. Double-space all copy and number pages consecutively.
A complete manuscript includes a table of contents, an introduction or preface, the main text, notes, bibliography or reference list, and any other text that will appear in the final book. Drafts of tables, graphs, maps, and figures should also be included, embedded as low-res files in the manuscript file. (Discuss artwork guidelines with your editor in anticipation of the book production stage.)
You will also be asked to complete the application form for the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, or ASPP, the funding body to which we submit all eligible manuscripts. Download a copy of the ASPP registration form. (Word)
Please send this to your editor by email when you submit the manuscript for peer review.
Click here to link to the ASPP website
Some peer review questions...
Does the manuscript make a significant contribution to its field?
How important is the subject?
Is the scholarship sound and up to date?
Is the author conversant with the literature of the subject?
Is the organization of the work sound?
Is the style readable?
Would the work benefit by being shortened?
Does it have inaccuracies or omissions?
Does it duplicate or substantially recapitulate other works?
What are the competing books in the field?
To what audience is the manuscript directed?
Do you recommend publication? With or without revisions?
Possible Outcomes of Peer Review
Your manuscript may need more than one round of review before the readers rank it an exceptional contribution to scholarship, ready for publication. This is routinely the case with edited volumes. The following are the possible outcomes of peer review:
- The two readers think that the manuscript, once revised, will make a worthy contribution to the literature, but suggest either minor or more substantive changes first. If this is the case, your acquisitions editor will ask for your general reaction to the reports and then ask you to revise your manuscript. The revised manuscript will be sent back to both readers, if available.
- The two readers think it is a very strong contribution and urge publication (in most cases, with a number of comments for the author to take under consideration). In this scenario, your editor will ask for a formal response to readers’ reports and bring the entire dossier forward.
- The readers’ evaluations do not agree. In this case, your editor will seek a third reader.
Only after we have at least two reports unequivocally recommending publication of the manuscript do we bring the dossier forward to the two committees involved: the Publications Board and the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, or ASPP.
The decisions of the Publications Board and of the ASPP are completely independent. That said, in most cases, if your dossier is approved by one committee, chances are good (though not guaranteed) that it will be approved by the other.
The Publications Board
Publications Board approval is the second stage of the peer review process at UBC Press. The manuscript, its reviews, and your response will be presented to the Board, a group made up of distinguished scholars appointed by the president of the University of British Columbia from its faculty. They are well acquainted with the demands of both scholarship and publishing. Members examine the dossier to confirm whether the manuscript meets the standards for publication by the Press. The final decision to publish depends on both favourable reviews and an engaged and thoughtful response from the author.
Click here for a list of UBC Press Pub Board Members
Your editor and her/his colleagues will be considering issues of financial feasibility. Few scholarly books in Canada can be published without financial assistance. UBC Press usually seeks support from among several established grant programs and encourages authors to help identify other sources, such as specialized foundations, programs within their home institutions, and government departments with special interest in the area of their research.
We regularly submit relevant works to the Awards to Scholarly Publishing Program (ASPP), administered by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which provides publishing grants to individual works that meet the criteria. Canadian citizens and permanent residents, no matter where they reside, may apply for grants to works on any subject. Non-Canadian citizens may be eligible if their manuscripts are based mostly on Canadian content. Works consisting of previously published material, conference proceedings, and unrevised theses are not eligible for ASPP support, nor do such works fit UBC Press's mandate.
If ASPP is not involved, another source of funds in aid of publication is almost always required. Other sources include the International Council of Canadian Studies, the Japan Foundation, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the College Art Association, and publication funds at authors' universities or governmental organizations. Your editor will advise you if your manuscript is eligible for consideration by such organizations.
Detailed cost-benefit analysis is done for all manuscripts under consideration. Press management assesses the length of text, graphics, format, market, price, publication subsidies, sales and marketing costs, and applied overhead costs to decide whether sufficient resources are available to take on the project.