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Just send it! An interested editor may say, "This looks interesting, but I'd like it to be at least x thousand words. Shen you've re-structured the proposal to meet this change, send me the first half of the manuscript." Or something like that. Or they may just say 'no.' If it's not critical for you that it land at a "top" press like OUP, CUP, HUP, then you can send it out to 4-5 presses at a time, and it'll likely find a home somewhere. But do aim for the best press you can.

I saved one of the top presses for my book proposal just in case there was some feedback that made me change/improve the book.


I'm not trying to divulge private information (and if I am doing so unwittingly, you obviously shouldn't post my comment), but I think you mentioned that your manuscript is focused on Kantian ethics. If that's correct, you might consider presenting the central line of argument at some forum with lots of Kantian Ethicists in attendance or ask someone in that world to read the manuscript before sending it out. If I'm right about the topic, then you'll want some sense of the range of responses that experts (i.e., likely manuscript reviewers) will have to your main thesis.

If you've already published something on the general topic, I agree with Rachel: send it out! If you haven't published in this area, then perhaps it makes sense to wait until one of your papers on this topic comes out (unless you need the book for a job or promotion, in which case you should send it out already!)


One worry about the "just send it" approach: Taking a shot and missing means you lose a chance you might have later. (Even emailing an editor about it counts as taking a shot.)

With journal publishing, that happens too (if you miss, you're done), but the difference here is that book editors don't just care about the content, but care about who the author is. In a book proposal, part of selling the book is about selling yourself as a author whom people will read. Book publishers need to sell books, so anything you can do to establish yourself helps you get a yes.

When book publishers ask people to read a manuscript proposal, they regularly offer something like $250 in credit at the press or $125 in cash. If they ask someone to read a full manuscript, they offer more. So, that's one reason why so many book proposals get a desk rejection from the editor--it costs the press money to review your work.

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