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SBL Author Handbook
SBL Press Guidelines for Book Proposals

A proposal should give the SBL Press series editor and the SBL Press staff a clear and detailed idea of your book. Your initial submission should be sent to the appropriate series editor and should include a letter of introduction stating that your proposal is not under consideration by any other press, a proposal as outlined below, the cv or résumé of all authors or editors, and a sample chapter or two. The samples should be excerpts that are typical of the book as a whole, especially critical to your argument, potentially controversial, or that give a good overview of the book. 

Author Information
Give your name, preferred mailing address, phone/fax number(s), and email address. Enclose a current vita that indicates your present position, educational background, and previous publications, with emphasis on how you are qualified to write the book that you are proposing.

Title of the Book
Indicate the suggested title of the book, with subtitle if desired, and give possible alternative titles and/or subtitles. Titles should be clear, simple, and reflect the content of the book. Do not leave important keywords and crucial information to the subtitle.

Description of the Book
In 200–250 words, describe the book that you are proposing. What is the nature and focus of the book? What is its major objective (thesis, argument, purpose, contribution)? Be sure to include what you consider to be the outstanding, distinctive, or unique features of the work. Imagine that you are writing the "blurb" for the back cover of the book, or the description that would go into our catalog. What would you say to convince a potential reader to buy this particular book?

Table of Contents/Outline
Give a tentative table of contents of the book by chapters. Under each chapter title give a brief outline of the chapter and a brief summary of its contents. This summary should explain the focus and development of the chapter and indicate how the chapter advances the argument or discussion of the whole book.

  • What is the estimated length of the proposed manuscript, printed double-spaced on 8½ x 11" paper with 1-inch margins, using 12-pt Times New Roman font?

  • What portion or percentage of the manuscript is now complete? By what date do you expect to submit a completed manuscript?

  • Approximately how many photographs and/or line drawings (charts, graphs, diagrams, etc.) do you plan to include? If illustrations are planned, please send photocopies of sample art with your proposal (do not send originals or any materials that are irreplaceable).

  • Do you have the required permissions or the necessary source for securing the permissions?

  • Do you anticipate any ancillary materials (workbook, manual, cd-rom, website, etc.)?

  • Has any of the material in your book been previously published elsewhere, either by you or by others? If so, where and in what form? Do you control all publishing rights to this previously published material, or will permission clearance from other publishers be required?

  • You will be asked to submit the completed manuscript in electronic form as well as in pdf format. Please indicate what word processing program/ version and operating system you are using (e.g., WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows, Microsoft Word 7.0 for Macintosh, etc.)?

  • What special language fonts will be required?

For what audience group(s), specifically, is the book intended: college students? seminary students? doctoral students? professors? established scholars in a specific field or sub-field? pastors or other religious professionals? general readers? Does the book have potential for textbook adoption, either as a basic (required) text or as a supplemental (recommended) text? If so, in what specific courses and contexts? 

Prompting Need
Why will each of the target audience group(s) you have identified have an interest in what you wish to say to them? What need, concern, or interest exists in these target audience group(s) that will prompt them to purchase and read the book?

Key Features/Benefits
What are the most important features of the book (elements of its organization or argument, summaries of literature, illustrations, appendices, etc.)? What are the most important benefits that your intended audience group(s) will derive from reading your book?

Where and how does the book that you are proposing "fit" into the universe of other previously published books? To what published works would you compare the book you are proposing? What does your book offer that these competing works do not? How will your book be superior to or different from them? I.e., how is this book different from all other books?

If there is interest in your project, the series editor will notify you of this and then commission outside reviewers to read and evaluate your proposal. At this stage, we may ask for additional materials. The review process typically takes up to four months, depending on, among other things, the nature of the project and the availability of reviewers.

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