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An Author's Proposal Kit

Writing a Book is a Partnership!

It takes two – the author and the publisher – to produce a book! Developing a good author-publisher relationship in the early stages facilitates the entire book publishing process. It is this relationship that we value most!

In order to provide books with quality content and exceptional value to our readers, we are always looking to partner with experts in topics such as networking, programming, graphics, databases, and open source to name a few. In the pages that follow, you will learn about our company and the publishing expertise that we bring to the author-publisher partnership.

This document breaks the entire publishing process, which is often viewed as daunting, into concise, easy-to-read sections. When you have finished reviewing the material, you will hopefully feel ready to proceed, knowing what lies ahead of you. You will be able to get started by preparing a solid proposal for your idea and, finally, be able to determine if we are the right publisher for you.

So, let's get started!



Whether you have an idea and are interested in finding a publisher or if you were contacted by one of our acquisitions editors because of your experience, the first step in getting a book in print is the proposal. Once the proposal is received from you, it is reviewed, developed and then presented in final format to an editorial board. During this meeting a decision is made on whether or not to proceed and publish the book. If given approval, contract negotiation begins and dates are defined for delivery of the manuscript.

Once the author begins writing, our sales and marketing departments work to build a presence for the title. As chapters are turned in, they go through a development phase and are returned to the author for review before going into production. After the book completes the production process, it is shipped off to the printer and will arrive in our warehouse and be available for distribution within weeks.

The entire process, from when the last of the manuscript is submitted until it is on the shelves, takes around twelve to sixteen weeks. The amount of time it takes for an author to write depends on a number of factors, some of which include work schedule, available time, number of authors, vacations, length of book, etc. These factors are taken into consideration during the contract phase and a reasonable timeframe is agreed upon.

As your publisher, we will provide you with a smooth and friendly publishing experience. One that can promise both a quality book and timely delivery!

About Sams Publishing

Sams is the leading publisher of computer programming books. With best-selling titles such as Sams Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days and Red Hat Linux Unleashed, Sams is securing its place as the best computer book publisher in the industry.

Founded in 1945 as Howard W. Sams, Sams has earned a reputation for producing comprehensive, accurate technical documentation for electronics professionals. The creative architects of Sams have evolved from producing high-tech schematics for televisions in the 1950s to publishing today's leading books on technology.

Sams is for the practitioner of technology—those who live and die day to day on their knowledge of new technologies, as well as other technologies that drive our economy. By constantly dismantling and digesting new technologies, Sams leads the industry with its ability to release reference/tutorial products on hot new products, precisely when its customers need the knowledge. Through careful study of how technology professionals are putting new technologies to work, Sams emphasizes shortcuts, timesaving methods and deep understanding, delivering content in a way that enables technology practitioners to work more efficiently and effectively.

Sams designs solutions for programmers, system administrators, networking professionals, database professionals, and Web developers, through our flagship series:

Sams Teach Yourself

The Sams Teach Yourself series offers a unique and insightful approach to learning a new topic. The leading tutorial computer book, it delivers the most up-to-date information in a clear, straightforward manner.


The Unleashed series is designed for the technology professional with a high degree of technical aptitude or prior subject knowledge on the job that want to expand their knowledge and career through:

  • First to market offering that offers thorough and comprehensive treatment of the subject matter that offers a practical and unsurpassed degree of depth

  • High degree of accessibility and compartmentalization

  • Serious tone, with leading experts on various niches of a topic

Unlike traditional competitors or fragmented information sources, Unleashed provides an integrated reference to maximize a technology to its fullest potential.

Solid Reputation

Being the world's #1 computer book publisher, we have consistently published the highest quality, best selling titles in the computer book publishing industry. We have made a major commitment to publishing books that meet the needs of programmers, network administrators, computer enthusiasts and general consumers. We are always looking for proven experts who can provide the greatest possible value to our customers.

Useful Assistance

Each author is assigned a team of editors, including 3-5 reviewers, a development editor, a technical editor, a copy editor and a proofreader. As the author writes and submits chapters, they are subjected to development and technical editors in order to assess the content, style, organization, and accuracy. Thus, feedback and recommendations for improvement are provided early in the process. According to our authors, it is less frustrating to refocus and incorporate changes while writing a manuscript than to finish the manuscript and then have to revise it all at once. Feedback from reviews and editing each help to ensure that a book has solid coverage and quality content.

Distribution and Marketing

Our sales force is unparalleled in its ability to sell titles into every imaginable channel! We now have more than 150 sales representatives that call on major distributors, national book sellers, the education market, the corporate market, the mass market, and international distributors. In addition, a Special Sales force calls on companies that might wish to use our products as premiums. We also have a subsidiary and electronic rights department that is dedicated to handling book clubs and foreign translations.

  • Major National Chains: These are the traditional distribution channels for our products. Included are Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Crown, and B. Dalton, to name a few.

  • Mass Market: MCP has been successful in penetrating several mass-market channels. These include Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, CompUSA, Best Buy, SAMs Club, Cosco, Office Max, Office Depot, Staples, Fry's Electronics, Electronics Boutique, Babbages, and Toys R Us.

  • Major Wholesalers and Distributors: Organizations such as AMS and Ingram help fulfill demand from the independent bookstores as well as individual chain book stores that need a particular title on short notice. They also service computer superstores and the major warehouse clubs.

  • Direct to the Independents: We have a large independent sales force to service the many technical bookstores and small chains across the United States.

  • Catalogs and Public Relations: Every title receives more than 150,000 impressions in various catalogs produced by us. These catalogs are produced for the mass market, independent bookstores, education, and the corporate channel. In addition, each of our key titles are announced via a press release sent to any number of over 500 members of the trade and popular press. In many cases, review copies of the books are sent as well.

Monthly Royalties

Once any advance paid against royalties is earned out, authors begin to receive monthly royalty statements. Unlike other publishers, our policy allows authors to invest – and spend – their royalty income monthly rather than wait for quarterly, semiannual, or annual checks.

Continuing Relationships

We value our authors! You can't have a great book without them. Therefore, we strive to establish long-term relationships with authors. That philosophy works to the advantage of both author and publisher. Marketing a subsequent book by an author is much easier and more efficient than marketing the first book. Repeat performances enable us to build an author's credibility with the book-buying public by calling attention to that author's previous successes.

Fast Production

Once a completed manuscript has been received, our production team will work to make it a book in less than 18 weeks. This means that we are able to meet demand and provide a timely release for books on emerging and hot topics. This also means that sales and royalties begin to arrive quickly!

Write That Proposal

Why Make a Proposal?

We place a great deal of emphasis on your proposal. A proposal provides us with a basis for evaluating the idea of the book and how fully your book fulfills its purpose. The proposal also helps the author to collect his/her thoughts and begin to organize the project prior to sitting down to write...writing a book can be a very daunting task!

A book proposal should consist of the following information: a table of contents, a resume with author biography, a writing sample, and a questionnaire.

The following sections detail each of the proposal components. Please draft the proposal using Microsoft Word, if possible. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to writing a book!

Table of Contents

The TOC, or outline, is as equally important to the author as it is to the publisher. Not only does it help us evaluate the manuscript's order of presentation, coverage, strategy, etc. before you begin writing, but it also serves as a framework on which your final manuscript can be built.

A TOC should contain the following information:

  • An outline of parts or sections and numbered and titled chapters within those parts

  • An estimated page count for each chapter

  • One additional heading level beyond chapter title and a one- to two-paragraph description of each chapter


A resume, complete with street address (no P.O. box numbers or we cannot use FedEx or UPS), daytime and evening telephone numbers, and email addresses is a required piece of the proposal. The resume should also include a paragraph to serve as an author biography for promotional purposes.

Writing Sample

An acceptable writing sample can be a published or non-published work such as an article, white paper, research work, company documentation, etc. If none of these examples are available, a chapter of the book can be written and submitted.

Proposal Questions

To help focus your book proposal and help us make a fair decision regarding your proposal's viability, please be sure to address each of these questions. Provide as much detail as possible. It is better to give us too much information, as it will only help us to better understand your idea. This information will also help our product development, editing and marketing staff in providing the necessary guidance and support for your project.

Proposal Questions:

  1. Describe the purpose of the book? Is it to replace poorly written documentation, address an unmet need in the marketplace, provide real-world experience, etc. Why should this book be published?

  2. What skills and experience will the reader need to bring to the book? What is the minimal skill set to adequately use the book?

  3. What skills will the reader take away from the book? What will the reader be able to do that they weren't able to do before reading the book?

  4. Who is the audience? Aside from the skills and software needed to properly use the book, describe the audience. Are they business professionals? Programmers? Beginners?

  5. Why would someone purchase this book? What does this book offer that other don't? Please list three reasons.

  6. Why does your intended audience need this book? To learn? To develop? For entertainment or personal interest?

  7. What current or forthcoming software (commercial or shareware) will be required to adequately use the book? (Include relevant minimum version/release numbers.)

  8. Are there any special hardware/software needs because of the book's nature or software? What is it?

  9. What is the estimated market size for the book? How many potential readers have or will have the software, skills, and interest in a book of this nature? How many people have the product? How many of those people buy books?

  10. Which chapter(s) listed in the attached TOC do you think holds the most value for online content? Why?

  11. What are the known competitors to this book or type of book? Be specific and include author, complete title, publisher and ISBN. What do these books provide that yours does not? What are you providing that they do not?

  12. If the book covers new/forthcoming software how do you intend to cover/emphasize new features and how much emphasis should be placed on these new features? Do you have access to any beta versions of the software?

  13. What unique, value-added benefits can you afford to a reader of the book? Specifically, what do you, the author, provide to set this book apart that competing authors will be hard-pressed to do?

  14. List and describe four specific benefits inherent to the book to be given to marketing to help sell this book. Be specific.

  15. If a CD should accompany the book, provide an exhaustive list of software and programs that should be included? What need do each serve for the book?

A Note on Evaluating Competing Titles

Few authors have an opportunity to break new ground. But the marketplace for computer book titles is such that a new perspective on a subject already covered by other books can be successful. It would be difficult to compete in the marketplace if you do not recognize and fully understand your competition. Examine competing titles and ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the deficiencies in competing titles?

  • What can I tell my readers that other authors have not covered?

  • What are the unique strengths of my approach to the subject matter?

Answers to these questions can help you refine the structure of your outline and the finished manuscript.

Parting Thoughts

Does this seem like a lot of work? It is! But writing a book is a lot of work, too, and careful attention to these matters will actually reduce the amount of work required in turning your ideas into a manuscript.

For your book proposal to be complete, check to make sure that each of the following items is included:

  • Detailed table of contents of your proposed book

  • Resume with author biography, complete street address (no P.O. box numbers), along with daytime and evening telephone numbers, and email address

  • Writing sample such as an article or white paper

  • Answers to the Proposal Questions

Review, Review, Review

Proposal Reviews

Conducting proposal reviews is an essential part of helping the author to ensure the book has appropriate coverage of the topic, addresses the needs of the audience, and stands apart from the competition. Each proposal is sent to no less than five individuals who are either well-recognized experts, longstanding individuals in the community, or academic authorities in the topic area.

This process is conducted by the acquisitions editor and results in no extra work on the author's part. The reviewers selected are typically given a week to review the proposal and return the questionnaire and any additional thoughts or suggestions. Once the reviews are in, they are evaluated and appropriate changes are incorporated into the table of contents before it is taken to the Editorial Board.

These individuals lend their expertise and understanding of the topic by answering a series of questions. This feedback provides added viability to the project, a different perspective and helps the author craft a book of superior quality.

Final Reviews

Final book reviews are conducted exactly like the proposal reviews. The difference is that the reviewers are sent a complete copy of the final manuscript before it is sent to the printer.

These reviews become a source of support, recognition and endorsement for the book. These reviews often provide glowing statements that are quoted on the cover to drive sales!

Post-Publication Reviews

After the book hits the streets, we continue to drive reviews and exposure by sending complimentary copies to a list of magazines, web sites, consultants, etc., in hopes of gaining reviews, exposure on book lists, and yet even more feedback and suggestions. The author is instrumental in formulating this list as they often have numerous contacts and a better pulse on the community.

The information gained from these efforts will be incorporated into the reprints and subsequent editions of the book. This effort also results in creating awareness of the book as well as of the author, and may result in additional publicity opportunities such as articles, web site hosting, etc.

Contract Discussion


Once a proposal is given approval from the editorial board, the next step is to decide on delivery dates and sign a contract. The contract we use is an easy-to-read, relatively short document based on standard industry practices. The sections below discuss some of the bigger sections of the agreement.

Grant of Rights

To put this section of the contract simply, if you create something, you own the copyright of that work. In order for someone to publish and distribute that work you must assign those rights to them. By assigning the rights to us, we can not only publish your book here in the US, but we can also have it printed and distributed internationally and in various languages. This is much easier for us to do, with our already established relationships, than for the author to do alone. What's more, we take care of the fees and the filing of paperwork with the copyright office.

Delivery of Manuscript

This is the section where a schedule is defined for delivery of the manuscript. Work schedules, vacations, and other circumstances are taken into consideration and realistic dates are established. Four dates will be specified, each being a milestone for the whole, a date each for 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the manuscript. The dates must give you enough time to write and perform author review, while still being aggressive enough to get the book to market in a timely manner. Timing the release of the book is important, as it will effect sales.


In this partnership, you invest your time to do the writing and we invest our staff and money in editorial work, production work, printing, binding, distribution, marketing, and publicity. As a sign of our commitment to the book, before it has sold a single copy, we will pay the author an advance against royalties. This advance is payable in installments based upon the milestone dates established for the delivery of the manuscript.

After the advance is earned out, the author will receive royalty payments on a monthly basis, rather than quarterly or semi-annually as is typically practiced in the industry.

Your Part

Writing Schedule

It is the your responsibility to adhere to the milestone dates outlined in the contract. If you anticipate needing more time you are to contact your acquisitions editor and discuss the possibility of extensions, obtaining a co-author or ghost writer, etc., in order to try and maintain the publication date. The most important thing you can do in this regard in stay in close contact with your acquisitions editor. They will be better able to help you if they are apprised of your situation.


It is your responsibility to provide us with the figures for the book. Figures may be line drawings, screen shots, graphs or charts, etc. Figures are not to be embedded in the word document. They can be provided as power point slides, pencil sketches, etc. We will take what you give us and reproduce it as high-quality art. You will be able to review all artwork prior to final production.


It is your responsibility to obtain permission for any material that you are using in your manuscript that comes from another source. This can be anything from research data to code. We will provide you a sample permission letter, which you can adjust as necessary.


It is your responsibility to submit chapters, preferably via email, as Microsoft Word files if possible. If necessary, an alternative method can be established with your acquisitions editor. A milestone is not officially met until the acquisitions editor has received all the word files for the chapters, as well as all the figures for each of those chapters.

Author Review

It is your responsibility to perform author review on chapters that have been developed, tech-edited, copy-edited, and proofread. This is the last time you will be able to add content, delete content, arrange content, etc. You will receive a copy of the entire manuscript prior to it being sent to the printer.

Our Part


We provide you with a development editor who will help you to ensure that the content and focus of the book meet the reader's needs. Our development editors have a great deal of editing experience and will probably be your most valuable partner. They will work with you throughout the entire writing process, not only by developing your manuscript, but also by serving as a liaison between you and the rest of editors and the production process.


We provide you, in addition to the development editor, a team of three other editors to your project. The technical editor, copyeditor, and proofreader all work on your project to ensure the validity, accuracy, and integrity of your work. All of this assistance is to guarantee that you have a successful writing experience and that your book is the best it can possibly be!

Production and Printing

We provide you with a team of experts that will turn your book from edited manuscript into a final, tangible book! This team will do everything, including design the layout, typeset, index, create .pdf files, and design the cover, for your book. The book will then be sent to the printer and from there is goes into the stores! Our production team and our printing partner all work to ensure that your book looks great and is turned around quickly.

Software Acquisition

We provide you a software specialist who will work with you specifically for software acquisition should your book require a companion CD. This person will obtain all the rights and ensure all the requirements are met in order to provide the software necessary to complement your book.

Sales, Marketing and Promotion

As today's technologies become more advanced and intertwined, the business of both traditional publishers and software manufacturers are no longer mutually exclusive. The Pearson Technology Group, the world's largest publisher of technical books and information, shares your vision to bring the best information to those who are making their buying decision for the first time or struggling to understand the intricacies of how to manage their worth.

Marketing sees that each book is effectively researched, packaged, promoted and sold in the most efficient and accessible way to both the buyer and the consumer. These are the activities we offer for EVERY title, with other opportunities available based upon market demands and promotional calendars.

Sales, Sales, Sales

A specialized sales force of well over 600, we target those segments that need special care and education in the products and services we provide, including:

  • National Account Representation: Our products are sold in over 7000 retail/ wholesale accounts and 2200 independent accounts nationally

  • International Representation: English language distribution of our titles represent the cornerstone of our business, and through its sister companies sell to literally every country on the globe, with local offices and distributor affiliates. Translations offer 35 languages to local markets for ease and convenience of learning.

  • Emerging Markets: We also realize the potential of sales focused on the specialized needs of certain channels. To meet those needs, we have at its disposal:

  • Education, with deep penetration into 2 year/4 year colleges and universities, along with vocational and technical institutions. This sales force of over 350 also keeps us on top of continuing education and corporate training/certification.

  • Corporate, with growing penetration into the Fortune 1000 companies in the United States, as well as the industry leaders internationally. Focused on training and education in their own right, our corporate force arms VARS, ISVs and other re-sellers with the tools to master technologies effectively.

  • Special Sales, with particular attention paid to software companies, PC and software OEMs, communications companies, and the special needs of the marketplace provide custom solutions and expand our depth of coverage into non-traditional markets.

  • The World Wide Web, a major investment for Pearson's family of companies, offers us a platform to both launch product and be an active participant in the over 300,000 page views per week (36,000 unique addresses) that mcp.com provides, as well as access to our spin-off, InformIT, which is quickly becoming the premier IT training and education site on the Web today.

Online Bookstores

As it almost goes without saying, all of our books are posted with the major online bookstores, both in the states and overseas. 81 online retailers receive weekly updates with all of the latest cover art, book vitals, sample chapters, tables of contents, reviews, and detailed information in order to help the customer make an informed decision about each book. This information usually results in 15-30% increases in sales vs. similar titles without this information.

Web Blasts and Communications

We have found the most effective means of communicating with a computer savvy audience is through the computer. With an active database of over 450,000 segmented book buyers, as well as a desktop application for communicating with a growing number of consumers about new book deals and new releases, we reach customers regularly to help them with their computing needs. Couple that with over 3 million CDs with active links to both our Web presence as well as our major retail partners, we increase the opportunity to buy your book wherever we can.

Each month, we also send out an e-mail blast to over 1500 reviewers with titles that have published during the month, with review request information for these reviewers to get copies for newspaper, TV, radio, magazine and web site reviews.

Content Distribution

We will work in conjunction with the author to help distribute content from the book in the form of articles, FAQs, tutorials, etc., to various related web sites and magazines. Getting pieces of a work out into the community will help to increase awareness of the author and of the book...thus, increasing sales! Since content is king in book promotion to a technical audience, sites are eager to post, and eager to sell, your title.

Featured Expert

We are affiliated with our Pearson IT initiative, InformIT (www.informit.com), which is a top web site that provides information technology news, information, and training to the IT community. With over 275,000 registered users and over 70,000 unique IT visits per day, InformIT is continuing to set us apart from other book publishers. The Featured Expert program is a forum for our authors to guest host on one their topic of expertise. For a designated two-week (or longer) stint, the author will occupy prime real estate on one of the topic pages. During that two-week period, InformIT will feature an author's photo, biography, and books. The author participates actively by providing articles and opinion pieces, hosting a chat, monitoring a message board, providing an interview, or otherwise creating a presence on the site. The purpose of the participation is (for InformIT) to create a dynamic personality that will draw visitors and (for the author) to draw attention to themselves and their books.


Each of our books is featured in a monthly catalog, 8500 of which go out to retail, independent, educational, corporate and international affiliates. Each title is given a page to itself, calling attention to the unique benefits of your title to these audiences.

On the publishing web sites, each title has space devoted to it, with links to author information, content, downloads, links, educational supplements (where appropriate) and retailers.


The Pearson Technology Group attends around 80 major and niche conferences per year with a physical presence. For conferences where we are the major presenter, we offer staff and a full booth, as well as commerce opportunities through the booth or through a local bookseller. For those events our sister companies attend, there are always opportunities to merchandise relevant titles for those shows, and we are all in partnership to extend the reach of our entire book list.


What should be included in a book proposal?

A book proposal should include the following:

  • Information on the topic of the proposed book: why you think this topic deserves a book, your sense of the need for a book on the topic, who the audience is, etc.

  • A detailed book outline that includes chapter subheads

  • A resume and copies of articles and/or white papers that you have written.

  • When you feel this book could be finished.

See Write That Proposal for more information.

How long will I have to write my book?

This can vary from project to project. It also depends on the amount of time an author can devote to writing the book. If an author has a busy schedule he/she will not be able to write as aggressively as someone who can take time off to write. The schedule for writing will be determined between the author and the acquisitions editor, taking issues such as schedule into account. What we desire is a schedule that fits the authors needs, while still allowing a timely release of the book.

What is involved in the writing process?

Basically, the writing process is divided into four distinct phases. These are:

  • Proposal development and contract negotiation. This is the period from title conception to signing the contract. This phase can last an indeterminate amount of time, based upon the timeliness of the topic and the quality of the outline and book proposal submitted.

  • Manuscript development. This covers the period from contract signing to submission of final manuscript. During this period the author will work closely with a development editor to make sure the book is focused and targeted correctly.

  • Editing. This phase includes the period from final manuscript through submittal of the edited manuscript to production. During this phase, you respond to questions and suggestions from the acquisitions, development, technical, and project editors.

  • Production. In this phase there is nothing that typically involves the author. The book is laid out, paginated, indexed, and sent to the printer.

What about financial considerations?

Our authors receive remuneration based upon royalties or work for hire. The complete and legal description of how royalties are paid is contained within the contract.

In a royalty contract, we provide an advance against the royalty during the development of the book. This advance is typically paid in a number of installments divided among manuscript delivery milestones. For example, the first will be paid upon delivery of 25% of the manuscript, the second for 50%, the third for 75, the fourth for 100%, and the last upon completion of the author review phase.

Royalties are paid based upon our net selling price for the book (the monies we receive from our customers) and net units sold. Generally, you can use a ballpark figure of 45% of the cover price to calculate the net selling price of the book. Thus, if a book has a list price of $22.95, your royalty (for estimation purposes) is calculated as a percentage of approximately $10.33; in other words, your pre-determined royalty percentage times $10.33. Unlike some publishers, we pay royalties monthly beginning with the third month after book publication.

Which word processor should I use?

We would prefer that you use Microsoft Word, as our internal operations are set up to work most easily with this program. Your Acquisitions Editor will work with you if a special format is needed.

How should I design my manuscript?

This really deserves two answers, because design can apply both to organization of content and to the physical appearance of the manuscript.

Generally, the physical appearance of your manuscript can be fairly simple. Elaborate formatting, fancy headers and footers, etc. are not required. Our formatting department does this for you. Specific information regarding appearance and layout is provided when you sign a book contract with us.

Content organization, however, is a different story. Content organization varies according to the type of book and subject matter you are writing. The organization of a book into a series will obviously differ from the organization of a book that is not in a series. In a general sense, our books are distinguished by their usefulness. The success of a book is in direct proportion to its utility.

Many things contribute to a book's usefulness. Clarity is one important contributor. It begins with efforts on the part of authors and development editors to ensure that every element is in its place, that the proper things are explained at the right times, and that the needs of the audience receive careful attention at every turn. Our editors then take over and ensure that the finished manuscript is free from grammatical faults and other defects.

Another contributing factor is easy access. Our style is based, in part, on the philosophy that books are designed to make information easily accessible. No matter how much useful information a book contains, it will only gather dust unless the information is presented in such a way that the reader can find what he or she needs with minimal effort. For that reason, we insist upon manuscripts that go well beyond a simple presentation of ideas and facts. We increase ease of access through use of the following:

  • Subheadings to show the progression of topics

  • Lists and tables for quick summaries of important information

  • Figures and diagrams to present ideas in concrete form

  • Chapter and section summaries to aid the reader in reviewing or locating information

  • Exhaustive indexes that are regarded as the best in the industry

We realize that each manuscript, particularly a highly technical one, has special needs that may call for departures from the accepted style. Wide departures should be thoroughly discussed with your development editor and approved before you develop large portions of the manuscript.

How do I determine the audience for my book?

Your target audience varies depending upon your topic and the level of potential readers' expertise. If you are writing a beginning level book, your audience may be novices. If you are writing an advanced or reference book, your audience may be technically sophisticated. Before you begin your book proposal, you should have a firm sense of your target audience and of what they will be seeking in your book. Many times it helps to verbalize, in writing, who your audience is by citing specific job positions such as database administrators, project managers, etc. You can also define your audience by the types of trade magazines that they read. The more information you can provide about the person who will want to buy your book, the easier it will be for us to sell it.

How long should my manuscript be?

For most subjects, we publish books from 400 to 1200 pages. If you aim for this length, you will be in good company. You may find, however, that your book topic cannot be adequately developed in a book of this size. As you are preparing your outline, think about the number of pages required to cover each topic. By the time your outline is completed, you should have a fairly accurate ballpark page count in mind.

Manuscript page counts differ from finished book page counts. To estimate the size of your final book, figure that each single-spaced manuscript page equals approximately .91 typeset pages. Thus, 11 manuscript pages equal 10 typeset pages. Charts, graphs, photos, and other illustrative materials also require page space. Visualize them as they will appear in a typeset page and add allowances to your page count estimates. Two screen shots normally equal one book page.

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