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Stenhouse is always on the lookout for good authors and books. We publish professional development books for K–12 classroom teachers and school leaders, ranging in topics across the curriculum—from reading, writing, and literacy to content areas such as math, science, and social studies, to more general topics such as classroom management. We welcome submissions from experienced and new authors, and we like to think you'll write "with" us, not "for" us. The information below is designed to encourage you and help you succeed as you think through your book proposal.
If you've never before written a book—or even submitted a proposal to publish a book—the process and prospects may seem daunting, if not downright frightening. In fact, while you are reading this, you may be thinking of a dozen other things you need to do before you start writing. Well, washing the dishes, mowing the lawn and paying the bills can wait. This is the time to start writing. You are in fact risking rejection, but rejection isn't the worst fate in life. Even if your proposal isn't accepted or your manuscript isn't published, you will have learned some valuable lessons that you can carry forward to your next attempt. And if your proposal and manuscript are accepted, you will have accomplished something to be proud of. Linda Rief knew it was time to start writing when she found herself vacuuming her purse. The outcome was Seeking Diversity, a wonderful book about teaching language arts with adolescents.
So, where to begin? A logical starting place is with the proposal. The point of the proposal is to help you figure out what you want your book to be, to say, to accomplish, and you will probably be surprised by some of the ideas that emerge. There's nothing like writing to find out what you want to say.
The proposal also has a second purpose—and a second audience. You are writing to answer basic questions likely to be asked by any publisher reviewing the proposal.
Your proposal should include a cover letter, which will answer the questions below. Also include a detailed Table of Contents, with a description of each chapter, as well as a sample chapter. Including your professional vita is helpful, but not mandatory. Questions to address in the cover letter include the following:
- Who are you? What is your background as an educator?
- What is this book to be about?
- What books have been written on this subject, and how will yours differ?
- What is its intended audience?
- How will your book be organized?
- How long do you anticipate the manuscript will be? How much have you already written?
- When do you expect to finish the manuscript - or a first draft?
- Will your book include samples of student writing, drawing or other work?
Remember that your proposal may be our first exposure to the idea you're offering. You can't assume that we understand very much. For example, you may want to submit a journal article that forms the basis of your manuscript; or, the article may be written in an academic style and you are intending to rewrite it as Chapter 4 of your book. We don't know; so explain exactly what you plan to do to any writing you submit, including stylistic changes you will make.
Here are a few other considerations in preparing your proposal and sample chapter:
- Your submission should be readable, not fancy. Consider 12-pt font and double spaced lines. And please number the pages.
- If your project is accepted, you will need written permission for any student work that appears in the book. Photographs of students also require signed releases. If you are planning to reproduce extracts, poems, or illustrations from published books, we will work with you to obtain written permission from the copyright holder. We do not have a budget to pay for reprint rights, so please keep this in mind when conceptualizing your manuscript (e.g., do not plan on using illustrations from children’s books in figures).
- Finally, if you are writing in detail about the classroom practices of other teachers, it is both courteous and prudent to show them what you plan to publish.
To give you a better sense of what a strong proposal looks like, here is the proposal Terry Thompson submitted to us for his book Adventures in Graphica.
We hope you will write the most complete proposal you can. If we are interested in your proposal but still have questions, we'll ask. We can't respond to every proposal, but if we are interested you will hear from one of our editors within 90 days’ time.
Please email all math and science submissions to email@example.com. Please email all other submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We prefer Word documents, but a link to a Google Doc is also acceptable.
William Varner, Managing Editor, Literacy
Maureen Barbieri, Acquisitions and Development Editor, Literacy
Terry Thompson, Acquisitions and Development Editor, Literacy
Tracy Zager, Acquisitions and Development Editor, Math
Kassia Wedekind, Acquisitions and Development Editor
Toby Gordon, Consulting Editor, Special Projects