Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Writing & Publishing a Book with ASQ Quality Press - Part 2

Crafting the Book Proposal
The ASQ website gives potential authors specific guidelines on how to construct the book proposal. See

The book proposal consists of seven sections:
  • 1. the title of the book
  • 2. an analysis of the market for the book and the current competition
  • 3. the author’s biographical sketch
  • 4. the book’s estimated length and completion date
  • 5. a detailed table of contents
  • 6. the book’s preface
  • 7. at least three sample chapters.
    This is not something that you can knock out in an afternoon, or even a month. But, researching and crafting a well-written proposal will ultimately prepare you for success when you do sign that book contract. For example, the market analysis will guide your choice of the book’s features, depth and tone. Writing the preface will help you clarify the reason for the book, and how it will be used by your readers. The estimated deadline section and the table of contents will provide the input for a detailed project plan. And, of course, the three chapters will give you a huge head start on your manuscript.

    Here are some tips for completing each section of the proposal.

    • The book title should be straightforward, and not overly “clever.” This is a technical book, not a fiction title.
    • There are many books on quality. Why will people buy yours? The market analysis section answers this question for the publisher. Know who your audience is, and what their job functions are. What other titles are in the same space as your proposed book? Look through the catalogs of not just ASQ Quality Press, but CRC Press, Wiley and Springer Verlag as well. Buy several of these titles and read them carefully. What strengths and weaknesses do you see? Are there important topics that seem to be missing, or are given a cursory treatment? How will your book address any deficiencies you see in the current titles?
    • The biographical sketch can be one page. Don’t be shy here; include the work experience and education that shows the publisher that you are uniquely qualified to write this book.
    • The book’s length is a rough estimate. Use the length of similar books as a guide, and remember that appendices and statistical tables can add many pages to the final count. Will your book be 150 pages, or 500? The publisher uses your estimate to arrive at its projected production costs and to set the price of the book.
    • Will you finish the manuscript 6 months after a contract is signed, or 12 months? Try to offer a realistic completion date! The publisher will place your manuscript in its production schedule based on your estimate. When in doubt, err on the high side.
    • I  had never really taken much notice of a book’s preface before writing a proposal. Take a few quality books down from your shelf and open up to the preface. You’ll find that the preface is generally written more informally than the text itself, and gives the reader the author’s rationale for writing the book, describes what is covered in each chapter, and offers tips to the reader on how to use the book.
    • The table of contents should be as detailed as possible. In my proposal, I used chapter headings, and two levels of subheadings.
    • The sample chapters you provide in the proposal do not need to be consecutive. The chapters should give the publisher and, importantly, the SME reviewer, a good feel for the overall tone, style, level and content of the book.

    Once the proposal has been submitted, you will receive an email confirmation from ASQ Quality Press. The editors will then read the proposal, and if they think it has merit, will send it out to a subject matter expert (SME) for review. This process may take 4 weeks or more. If all goes well, you will receive an email with a draft contract and a copy of the anonymous SME’s review. Now is the time to adjust due dates if needed. Signing the final contract starts the clock ticking in terms of your deadline. Now it gets real.

    In my next post, I will give some tips on writing the manuscript.

    © 2016 Mary McShane-Vaughn

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