MLA Publishing: Book Proposal Guidelines
The MLA Publishing Program publishes books that showcase the expertise of health sciences librarians for an audience of librarians in a variety of specialties and other professionals.
The volunteer members of the MLA
Books Panel solicit and generate ideas for new books and
evaluate proposals. The Books Panel can help prospective authors shape their idea into a proposal that can be successfully published. Ideal topics include mainstream library administration or topics that meet a particular, broad-based need.
- typically have a well-defined approach to a subject
- focus on best practices rather than current practices and answer the following questions: what are the best practices, what are trouble areas, what would you never do again, what are some organizational, models and what are their respective advantages and disadvantages?
Suggestions for Publishing Support can help potential authors identify and obtain the financial and practical support needed to transform their ideas into publications.
Who are MLA's publishing partners?
Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group (RLPG) is MLA's copublisher for new book projects. The company publishes almost 1,500 new titles each year, covering virtually all fields in the humanities and social science, including a strong list of library science titles. Books copublished by MLA and RLPG are published under the Rowman & Littlefield imprint.
- RLPG handles all phases of publishing and productioncontract negotiation, project management, copyediting, composition, proofreading, and printingonce a manuscript has been approved by the MLA Books Panel.
- RLPG also handles marketing, sales, and order fulfillment.
- RLPG is a hands-on partner with the author.
- RLPG determines all business decisions related to the book.
MLA also works with the American Library Association's ALA Editions on new editions of existing books.
How can I submit a proposal?
Complete a brief form that identifies the book's objectives. If the Step One is approved by the MLA Books Panel and copublisher, you will be asked to submit a Step Two.
to five pages that contain the following:
- Preliminary table of contents, including an estimate of the length or number of pages for each chapter, as well as the length of the total manuscript; please specify types and approximate sizes of indexes.
- Tentative outline describing in detail the scope defined in Step One.
- Description of any special features (sidebars, figures or tables, case studies, interviews, etc.).
- Brief resume that includes full citations or links,when available, to published writing.
If Step Two of the proposal is accepted by the MLA Books Panel and its copublisher,
you will be asked to provide:
- A draft preface that tells potential readers: who the book is for,
what the purpose of the book is, how it will be compiled or written, your reason
for writing the book, how the book is organized, and how it can be used (if
- Sample chapter. The sample chapter should not be a general introduction,
so please do not submit chapter one. The sample chapter should contain representative
content and features so that the Books Panel can evaluate appropriateness of
content, writing style, special features, etc.
- Please include your outline from step
2 with the step 3 submission to aid the panel in review.
- Including a header in your documents with your last name or a short version
of the book topic helps committee members keep your materials together and
What happens to a proposal after it's received?
The Books Panel meets monthly to review proposals. The decision to accept or reject a proposal is influenced by many factors, including the need for the publication, its potential market, the author's qualifications (subject knowledge and writing skills), estimated production and marketing costs, and estimated sales. The copublisher may conduct a market survey to determine the level of interest in the proposed book.
What happens when a proposal is approved?
After the MLA Books Panel approves the proposal, the chair sends an acceptance letter to the author on behalf of the panel. However, a contract is not issued until further review by the copublisher. This often includes an outside review of the proposal. The author may be asked to fine-tune the outline. The steps that follow include:
- The copublisher sends the author a contract. Contract negotiations are between the author and copublisher, not MLA.
- The author is sent an information packet including style guidelines, formatting specifications, and a tentative timeline for chapter submissions.
- A developmental editor reads and responds to the first two chapters in detail and offers the author any suggestions that will make later stages of the writing and publishing process flow more swiftly.
- In general, the copublisher likes to see at least two chapters in the first six months after the contract has been signed and at least half the manuscript in draft form about three to four months before the final deadline.
- Normal book production time is four to six months.
- The completed manuscript is reviewed by the copublisher and invited experts in the field, as needed. A peer-review manager, assigned from the current MLA Books Panel, coordinates the review process.
Other MLA Publishing Opportunities
MLA DocKits are collections of library documents from a variety of institutions that illustrate the range of approaches to a topic in health sciences librarianship.
MLA BibKits are annotated bibliographies of subject areas in the health sciences literature.
Contact MLA's director of publications at 312.419.9094 x23; email, firstname.lastname@example.org.