Whether to Submit a Proposal
One of the first—and most important—decisions an author should make is where to submit his or her proposal. Every publishing house, large or small, has its own strengths. Before submitting your proposal, consider which press has published the books in your field that you admire most. Which publishers' lists include books that are related to yours?
Likewise, please consider the sorts of books a press does not publish. In the case of the University of Iowa Press, we do not publish novels, unrevised doctoral dissertations, conference proceedings or symposium volumes, Festschriften, plays, or manuscripts on topics outside of our acquisitions focus. (For advice on revising your dissertation, please see our guidelines.)
The University of Iowa Press seeks proposals in the following areas: literary studies, including Whitman studies; poetics; food studies; fan studies; literary nonfiction; the craft of writing; book arts; theatre studies; public humanities; the natural history of the Upper Midwest; and regional history, culture, and archaeology. We publish single-author short fiction and poetry through the Iowa Short Fiction Award, the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, and the Iowa Poetry Prize only.
Please refer to the series list on our website for information about submitting proposals in specific series. Some series have their own guidelines for proposals.
To submit a proposal for a book outside the series framework or to ask whether your project would be of interest, contact
James McCoy, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, for short fiction, poetry, and general trade.
Catherine Cocks, Acquisitions Editor, email@example.com, for book arts, regional history and culture, food studies, fan studies, public humanities, theatre history, and related series: Humanities and Public Life, Impressions, Iowa and the Midwest Experience, Studies in Theatre History and Culture, and Writers in Their Own Time.
Holly Carver, Series Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, for natural history and related series: Bur Oak Books and Bur Oak Guides.
Some series have their own guidelines. Please check the series description before following the instructions below.
What to Include in a Proposal
Your proposal should give the editors and marketing staff a clear idea of what your book is about, how you came to write this book at this point in your career, and where the work fits within your field. It may be helpful to consider the following questions:
Editors and marketing professionals are also interested in knowing what potential audiences you foresee. Is your book for specialists in your field, or will it appeal to a broader audience? Is this book intended for use by students? Is there potential for classroom adoption? Is this a trade book, intended for general readers?
Proposals should include the following:
Please email or mail your proposal to the appropriate acquisitions editor and series editor. Our typical response time for a preliminary inquiry is about 5 to 6 weeks.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Charlotte M. Wright, Managing Editor
So you've finished your dissertation. Your committee has approved it. Now you can just box it up, send it to a publisher, and receive a book contract, right?
In reality, even the best dissertations must be revised before being accepted for publication. Because they receive so many unrevised dissertations a year, most editors can spot one soon after opening the package. To guard against an immediate rejection, you'll need to spend a lot of time rethinking and reworking your manuscript. The press's acquisitions editor, the expert readers to whom the press sends the manuscript for evaluation, and the editorial board will all be evaluating not only the validity of your argument and the depth of your research, but also the book's potential appeal to a substantial number of educated lay readers outside a narrow field of interest.
The first step for you is to take a look at your topic. Is it interesting to more than just a handful of scholars? Is it unique? Is it timely, but not faddish? Where does it fit with other books published lately in your discipline? Chances are you'll have to broaden it, or narrow it, or take a different angle on it than you did in the dissertation.
Some quick and easy revisions:
Derricourt, Robin M. An Author's Guide to Scholarly Publishing. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.
Germano, William P. From Dissertation to Book. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
_____. Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Harman, Eleanor, et al., eds. The Thesis and the Book: A Guide for First-Time Academic Authors. 2d ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.
Lanham, Richard A. Revising Prose. 5th ed. New York: Longman, 2006.
Luey, Beth, ed. Revising Your Dissertation: Advice from Leading Editors. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
McMillen, Liz. “A Doctoral Dissertation Is Not Yet a Book, Young Tenure-Seeking Scholars Are Told.” Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 February 1986.
Also, various university presses have author guidelines that will help you focus on matters most important to that particular press.
Following these instructions helps us ensure that any previously copyrighted material is properly acknowledged in your book.
According to the contract you signed, you are responsible for getting permission to reprint any copyrighted work used in your book.
Complete photocopies of all grants of permission must accompany the final manuscript when you submit it to the press. The press will not begin copyediting the manuscript until you have submitted all of the permission forms.
Getting permission to use copyrighted works may take several months. Start early and be persistent.
When Do You Need to Ask Permission?
Permission is required for the use of two kinds of copyrighted materials: your own previously published work (when you no longer hold the copyright) and other authors' copyrighted materials that do not come under the principle of fair use or that are not in the public domain.
If your use qualifies fair use or if the material is in the public domain, you do not need to get the copyright holder’s permission.
The principle of fair use allows certain uses of copyrighted material without requiring the user to get the permission of the copyright holder. Quoting or reproducing small amounts of an author’s or artist’s work in order to review or criticize it or to illustrate the user’s own argument is fair use.
However, in many cases determining exactly what is covered by fair use depends on the circumstances of use. In law a “rule of reason” determines whether a particular use is fair or not.
Important factors in determining whether a particular use is fair include the following:
The use is probably fair if:
In the United States, copyright exists for a term set by law. After that term expires, everyone may freely use the material—it has entered the public domain.
However, the law changed in important ways in the twentieth century, so figuring out what is in the public domain and what remains protected by copyright can be confusing. Works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain. You do not need anyone’s permission to use them.
For more recent works, see the AAUP’s Permissions FAQs.
The AAUP also offers online resources for determining a work’s copyright status.
Some documents are in the public domain from the start, such as those created by the US federal government.
When You Must Get the Copyright Holder’s Permission
In general, you need to obtain written permission for the following items:
Preparing permission requests
Please use the sample letter as the basis for your requests. When you prepare your permission requests, be sure to ask for:
Also include in the letter:
Have all letters of permission sent directly to you. You will need them to type up the permissions section of your book and put the required attribution information in any captions.
Download PDF* (28 KB)
*This download is a PDF file. If you don't already have Adobe Reader (the application necessary to read PDF files), you can download it free by clicking the button below:
What to send to the University of Iowa Press
Please send us photocopies of both your request and the response. We need to see complete copies of the permissions forms—including front and back sides and lists of terms and conditions that may be attached—so we can be sure to follow all the conditions of use, including adding correct credit lines, following any cropping instructions, and sending appropriate gratis copies of your book.
Also be sure to send us a list of the names, addresses, and number of copies due to the various museums, libraries, publishers, and writers who have requested them.
Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011)
Susan M. Bielstein, Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006)
Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010)
William S. Strong, The Copyright Book: A Practical Guide, 5th ed. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999)
WATCH (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) File
If you have further questions or concerns, please contact your acquiring editor.
If you would like to include photographs, line drawings, maps, charts, or other illustrations in your book, please let your acquiring editor know as early as possible. He or she will let you know the process for submitting illustrations and will ask you to send samples for our design and production manager to evaluate.
You must ensure that your images meet the following standards, or we will refuse to publish them.
What Not to Send
It is critical that the files be of a high enough resolution and an appropriate size for good reproduction. For best results, we recommend that you have scans of prints, slides, or transparencies made by a graphic arts service bureau or by a library or archive that routinely provides electronic files for print reproduction. Electronic files must meet the following requirements:
For each image you supply, we must also have a printout of the electronic file.
Before submitting digital images, please
Art Created for the Book
If you are planning to create art (such as maps or charts) in electronic form for reproduction in your book, it is essential that you or the person who will be creating the art contact our design and production manager before beginning. We must receive a sample file in order to identify any problems early in the process. Please contact Karen Copp, 319-335-2014, email@example.com, to discuss your illustrations.
Adobe Illustrator is our preferred software for charts and graphs. Using this program offers a much higher probability that we can reproduce your files in the book. If you are using another program, save your files as EPS to ensure that we will be able to use them, or provide an EPS version of the file in addition to the application version of the file. If your program does not give you the option to save as an Illustrator file or an EPS file, please indicate on the printout all save or export options available in the program you are using.
Before submitting created digital maps, charts, and other illustrations, please
For more detailed information about electronic art, refer to the Association of American University Presses' Digital Art Requirements for Submission.
We always welcome photographic prints, slides, or transparencies. Label and package them carefully before sending them to us.
Where to Put Art when Submitting a Manuscript
No illustrations—whether photographs, maps, charts, graphs, or tables—should be embedded in the text. Each piece should be submitted as a separate file, named by your last name and figure number (including the chapter number where appropriate, e.g. 1.1, 2.1, and so on). Captions should likewise be listed in a separate document. Only figure callouts should appear in the text approximately where the figure should appear.
Charlotte M. Wright, Managing Editor
This memo will address the publishing process from the point of view of the editorial and production departments. The marketing department has its own schedule and forms. It is extremely important that you promptly fill out and return any marketing forms, share with them your ideas for people to provide blurbs for your book, and contact them when any marketing opportunities arise.
Soon after you have sent us your complete book project—inclusive of all illustrative material, permissions, appendixes, tables, charts, dedication, etc.—your manuscript will be assigned to a copyeditor, who will work under my direction. I will let you know who the copyeditor is, when you should expect to receive the edited manuscript for review, and when you'll need to send it back to the editor. During this time, you will be working directly with your copyeditor, but if you have any questions he or she can't answer, please don't hesitate to contact me.
In most cases, I will instruct the copyeditor to focus on correcting basic grammatical and mechanical errors, on reading for clarity, and on bringing the manuscript into conformity with Iowa's house style (we follow the Chicago Manual of Style unless you and your acquisitions editor have agreed upon another style manual).
Most manuscripts will be edited by hand: the copyeditor will make corrections directly on the final hard copy you submitted. While working on the project, the copyeditor may contact you with questions and suggestions as he or she irons out the difficulties inherent in shaping your manuscript according to University of Iowa Press guidelines. In order to maintain your book's schedule, please respond promptly to any queries. The copyeditor will send the fully edited manuscript to you, at which time you will be asked to review it carefully and to answer any remaining questions on the text, a critical step in the publication process because it is your last opportunity to make substantive changes. You will have approximately two weeks to make sure the text and references are complete, your quotations are accurate, your wording is final, your writing is clear. We cannot allow rewritings, major deletions or additions, or extensive global changes (such as capitalizing every appearance of a word) after this stage. We assume that once you return the manuscript to the copyeditor for final cleanup, the text is finalized.
After the final cleanup, the copyeditor will return the manuscript to us. As I go through it carefully to prepare it for the designer and typesetter, I may need to contact you if I have any questions or comments.
The design and typesetting stage usually takes two to four months, depending on the complexity and length of the project and the designer's and typesetter's schedules. All copyediting changes will be transferred to the disk by the typesetter. As soon as the page proof date is scheduled, I will contact you with that information, so you'll know when to block out time to read proofs and index your book.
Any ideas you have concerning jacket/cover art should be discussed with your acquisitions editor right away. Often, we need written permission to use artwork, and this process may take us some time. Please be aware that while we appreciate your help and input, the final design is ultimately the decision of the Press. The jacket/cover will utilize the appropriate blurbs from among those we receive for your book. Some blurbs may be edited because of space considerations.
When I receive page proofs from the typesetter, I will FedEx a set to you for proofing and indexing. You will have approximately two weeks to complete that work and return the proofs to me. I will also be giving a set of proofs to a professional proofreader, along with the original copyedited manuscript. The proofreader will make sure that all the changes on the manuscript were set in type in the proofs. He or she will verify that all textual elements (table of contents, chapter titles, running heads, captions, etc.) have been typeset according to the designer's specifications and that illustrations have been placed appropriately, are consistent in form, and are accurate. Your responsibility will be to read through the text itself and correct any typos, punctuation errors, reversed photographs, switched captions, etc. Page proofs should be read carefully, but changes should be limited to those necessary to correct typographical errors, errors in fact, and editorial inconsistencies. Any nonessential revisions will require the approval of the Press and may be billed to you. No changes can be made that affect page layout. At this point our production schedule is usually tight. Delays in returning proofs and the index are likely to postpone the scheduled release date of your book, which in turn may adversely affect sales.
After I receive your corrected proofs, I will transfer the approved changes to the proofreader's master copy and send it back to the typesetter.
If your contract calls for you to provide an index, I urge you to begin the process even before the page-proof stage by creating an alphabetized list of names, places, and subject terms from your manuscript. Then, when you receive the page proofs, you will only need to add the inclusive page numbers, rather than starting from scratch.
Our guide for indexing is the Chicago Manual of Style. In all cases, the index must be double-spaced, and we need both a digital file and a printout.
If you would prefer that a freelance editor work on the index for your book, please contact me or your acquisitions editor to discuss that option. You would be responsible for paying the freelancer.
You will not receive page proofs of the index.
After you complete your work on the index, relax! The rest is up to us.
Making and checking proof corrections, adding and proofreading the index, and coordinating all the other remaining elements of book production usually require several weeks and several trips back and forth between the Press and the typesetter. When everything has been done, your book is sent to the printer, who will in turn send the Press a set of proofs for a final review. These proofs are reviewed by the production and editorial departments to check for continuous pagination and formatting. When the proofs are approved, the books are printed, bound, and sent to the warehouse—which usually takes around two months.
The entire production process, from copyediting to book-in-hand, takes approximately eight to ten months. I look forward to working with you!
This series aims to create a collection of excellent books that document the exciting publicly engaged projects in which artists and humanities scholars, especially in college and university settings, are working with community partners and cultural institutions to produce new knowledge while also contributing to the public good. Below, we outline objectives for our series. In preparing a proposal, we encourage you to explain how your project will help meet the series goals as you respond to the questions below. We look forward to learning more about the many exciting projects underway.
Please submit a short, detailed proposal of 5–10 pages (12 point type and single-spaced) with a CV for each author of no more than 5 single-spaced pages. Please include CVs and the proposal together in a single PDF file. Be sure that your name(s) and contact information appear on the first page of the proposal.
The Iowa Poetry Prize, open to new as well as established poets, is awarded for a book-length collection of poems written originally in English. Previous winners, current University of Iowa students, and current and former University of Iowa Press employees are not eligible.
Manuscripts should be 50 to 150 pages in length. Put your name on the title page only; this page will be removed before your manuscript is judged. Poems included in the collection may have appeared in journals or anthologies; poems from a poet's previous collections may be included only in manuscripts of new and selected poems. Manuscripts will be recycled; please do not include return packaging or postage.
The winning manuscript will be published by the University of Iowa Press under a standard royalty agreement.
Manuscripts should be mailed to:
The Iowa Poetry Prize
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road
100 Kuhl House
Iowa City IA 52242-1000
Submissions must be postmarked during the month of April.
A $20 reading fee is payable to the University of Iowa Press Poetry Fund. We consider simultaneous submissions but ask that you notify us immediately if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere. Only the winners will be notified. The results will be posted on our Facebook page and Twitter account.
Any writer who has not previously published a volume of prose fiction is eligible to enter the competition. Previously entered manuscripts that have been revised may be resubmitted. Writers are still eligible if they have published a volume of poetry or any work in a language other than English or if they have self-published a work in a small print run. Writers are still eligible if they are living abroad or are non-US citizens writing in English. Current University of Iowa students are not eligible.
The manuscript must be a collection of short stories in English of at least 150 word-processed, double-spaced pages. We do not accept e-mail submissions. The manuscript may include a cover page, contents page, etc., but these are not required. The author's name can be on every page but this is not required. Stories previously published in periodicals are eligible for inclusion. There is no reading fee; please do not send cash, checks, or money orders. Reasonable care is taken, but we are not responsible for manuscripts lost in the mail or for the return of those not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. We assume the author retains a copy of the manuscript.
Award-winning manuscripts will be published by the University of Iowa Press under the Press's standard contract.
Manuscripts should be mailed to:
Iowa Short Fiction Award
Iowa Writers' Workshop
507 North Clinton Street
102 Dey House
Iowa City IA 52242-1000
No application forms are necessary. Entries for the competition should be postmarked between August 1 and September 30; packages must be postmarked by September 30. Announcement of the winners will be made early in the following year on our Facebook page and Twitter account.
Potential entrants wishing to read stories by previous winners may order The Iowa Award: The Best Stories from Twenty Years and The Iowa Award: The Best Stories, 1991ñ2000, both selected by Frank Conroy.