Guidelines for Book Proposals

The goal of the SAA book publishing program is to provide print and digital resources that

  • serve the needs of members and the archives profession, 
  • are of consistently high quality, 
  • fill gaps in the professional literature (rather than duplicate existing resources), and
  • nurture new and veteran voices.

When considering new publications, SAA's Publications Editor, Publications Board, and Director of Publishing (aka “the publications team”) take into account:

  • the long-range plans of SAA and the Publications Board;
  • the potential market for such works;
  • the professional qualifications of the author(s) and/or editor(s);
  • existing titles in the SAA Publications Catalog;
  • SAA publications in progress;
  • the needs of the archival profession; and
  • the core organizational values and strategic goals of the Society.

Project Initiation

The SAA publications team receives publication ideas and recommendations from many sources, including, but not limited to:

  • SAA members,
  • Individuals from allied professions,
  • Publications Board members,
  • Publications Editor,
  • Archival Futures Series Editors
  • American Archivist Editorial Board, 
  • Director of Publishing.

The Publications Board, Publications Editor, and/or Director of Publishing may identify a topic and develop a Request for Proposal, inviting the members and/or specific individual(s) with special expertise to submit a prospectus. The board also welcomes informal conversations with and preliminary proposals from members who believe that SAA should undertake a particular publication project, and solicits suggestions from SAA sections, committees, roundtables, and other groups that have a special interest in a publication project.

All members of the publications team forward information to the Publications Editor, who is charged with responding to queries. While an initial, informal discussion about a possible project is not required, it is highly recommended, since a stronger prospectus is likely to emerge from such collaboration.

Please note that publication components of grant proposals are subject to the same procedures detailed here if intended for publication by SAA, although this may lead to an adjusted timetable and order of steps. 

Proposals for the Archival Futures Series, co-published with the Amercian Library Association, are handled by the series Editors instead of the Publications Editor. 

Submitting a Prospectus

To begin the process of producing a new publication, author(s) submit a prospectus to the Publications Editor, addressing the following:

  • the theme, purpose and scope of the publication;
  • the estimated format and length of the publication;
  • whether the topic and approach are better suited to print or online format
  • an annotated outline or table of contents;
  • the intended audience and the potential market;
  • the prospective value to the archival profession;
  • the relationship of the proposed publication to the literature in the field;
  • the possibility of co-sponsorship with another organization;
  • the possibility of outside financial support;
  • graphics and illustrations the publication might use;
  • co-authors or contributors in the case of an edited work; and
  • the anticipated schedule for preparation of the publication.

Proposers should be advised that they will be asked to submit a writing sample of 10–15 pages, in a style reflecting the audience and tone of the proposed publication. The editor can provide more specific advice as proposals are developed.

The Publications Editor reviews the prospectus and circulates it to the Publications Board, Director of Publishing, and, if necessary, to selected subject specialists for comment. Those reviewing the prospectus submit comments using this evaluation rubric. The Editor evaluates the comments, decides whether to proceed, and responds to the author. If the review is favorable, the Executive Director executes a contract with the author. The author signs and returns a copy of the contract. (Please note that depending on the author’s writing experience, he/she may be requested by SAA to prepare at least two sample chapters and a detailed table of contents.)

Producing the Manuscript

When a prospectus is accepted by the SAA Publications Board, then a member of the Board is assigned to the project to liaise with the Author and oversee the process until the finished manuscript is submitted by the Author to the Publications Editor. The role of the Publications Board liaison is to

  • work with the author(s) to set and keep interim deadlines and to meet the final deadline (usually 12 to 18 months);
  • address any questions about the publication process;
  • act as liaison to the Publications Editor, Director of Publishing, and Publications Board;
  • track and report on progress to the Publications Editor;
  • troubleshoot as necessary;
  • read and review sections of the manuscript as they are produced and/or
  • help find colleagues to act as preliminary readers.

Multi-Author and Edited Publications

When a project involves more than one author, a general editor (who may also be one of the authors) may be needed to guide the project. She/he will:

  • select authors;
  • assign topics;
  • review chapter outlines;
  • set and keep deadlines;
  • set guidelines for the publication’s style and voice;
  • read and edit chapters and approve them before submitting the complete manuscript;
  • assign tasks and coordinate compilation of ancillary materials (i.e. table of contents, foreword, introduction, dedication, illustrations, captions, acknowledgements, and appendices); and
  • work with the Director of Publishing during the production phase.

The Publications Editor reviews the prospectus submitted by the general editor and circulates it to the Publications Board, Director of Publishing, and, if necessary, to selected subject specialists for comment. Those reviewing the prospectus respond to the Publications Editor, who evaluates the comments and decides whether to proceed. If this review is favorable, the Publications Editor advises the Executive Director to execute a contract with the general editor and the author(s). The general editor and the author(s) sign and return a copy of their respective contracts and work commences on the rest of the manuscript. (Please note that depending on the writing experience of those involved in the project, the general editor may be requested by SAA to prepare at least two sample chapters and a detailed table of contents.)

The SAA Book Publishing Agreement

  • SAA publications are usually completed on a work-for-hire basis, with SAA retaining the copyright and all rights to publish the manuscript or to license others to use it. 
  • An honorarium or royalty agreement is executed by the SAA Executive Director.

SAA Is Your Partner in Publishing!

Stacie Williams, SAA Publications Editor and Chair of the Publications Board  
Amy Cooper Cary, and Bethany Anderson, Archival Futures Series Editors