Ready to Write Again? How to Write a Book Proposal That Gets Reviewed, Approved, and Published

BookProposalFormElsevier works incredibly hard to earn its reputation as a publisher committed to quality. Our editorial vigor begins with the book proposal and expectations are set high from the beginning. We encourage you to put extra time and energy into your book proposal as it is more likely to earn supportive reviews.

In addition, a well thought out book proposal provides us with the information we need to sell and market the book. In our experience this upfront investment will save you both time and energy as your book moves from the proposal and writing stages to the final manuscript.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you craft a strong book proposal:

1) Alignment. Make sure your audience aligns with Elsevier’s potential readers. We reach scientists, researchers, professionals, and students around the world with reference content.

2) Audience. Your primary audience should include people who need your content most. Know who you are trying to reach by ensuring that your book will solve a problem faced by specific people you can easily define. Be targeted, and acknowledge the difference between your primary and secondary audience. This demonstrates that you’ve really thought through the problems faced by your audience and how you will solve those problems with your book.

3) Title. Your title should accurately describe the contents of your book using the words that someone with a question might use when searching for an answer. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience, and be accurate and descriptive rather than clever and catchy. Include a few possible title/subtitle combinations and be open to suggestions from your editor and reviewers.

4) Competition. As a thought leader, you should be aware of the competing books in your field. Do a thorough search using publisher websites and other sources like Amazon and Google Books. If a competing book has overlapping content, you should mention it in the proposal even if only a few chapters are similar. It’s better to demonstrate awareness by including a thorough list of related titles with explanations of how your proposed book is different.

5) Description. This can be difficult, but is necessary to sell your book. Write a description as if it will appear on the back cover of the book and in online promotional copy. Look at descriptions of related titles for inspiration, and use a journalistic style that leads with the most important features and benefits upfront. Avoid defining the field as anyone reading the description probably understands the basics. Also, don’t pose questions – they don’t tell the reader anything about the book.

6) Table of Contents. Last but not least, your table of contents is critically important and should be detailed and well-organized. The more effort you put into this outline at the proposal stage, the smoother the review, approval, and manuscript development will be. Include descriptive chapter headers and sub-headers. Outlines are usually better than lengthy descriptions.

Questions About the Proposal Process?

If you have any questions about the proposal process, speak with an Elsevier editor in your related field. Sometimes the process can seem tedious, but your editor is there to see you through it.

Visit the Science and Technology Book Proposal page on to obtain a book proposal form and find additional information about the book publishing process.