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 In the case of the University of Iowa Press, we do not publish the following: unrevised doctoral dissertations, conference proceedings or symposium volumes, Festschriften, plays, or manuscripts on topics outside of our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:

  • book arts and history
  • the craft of writing
  • fan studies
  • fiction
  • food studies
  • literary and general nonfiction
  • literary studies and poetics (only in the Contemporary North American Poetry, Iowa Whitman, and New American Canon series)
  • midwestern history, culture, and archaeology
  • natural history of the Upper Midwest
  • poetry
  • public humanities
  • theatre history and culture


We publish single-author short fiction through the Iowa Short Fiction Award and the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. We also publish novels.


We publish poetry through the annual Iowa Poetry Prize. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts for the Kuhl House Poets series.

Who should you contact?

If you are proposing a project for a particular series, please send your proposal to the series editor or editors. That information is available on the series pages.

If your proposal is not intended for a particular series, please send it to James McCoy, Director.

Please note that the Iowa Short Fiction Award and the John Simmons Short Fiction Award have their own submission procedures. The University of Iowa Press does not handle these submissions. Please contact the Iowa Writers’ Workshop with questions about them.

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:

  • What problems are you setting out to solve?
  • What confusions do you wish to clarify?
  • What previously unknown or neglected story are you planning to tell?
  • Why is this book important?

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:

  • A brief narrative description of the book, including its themes, arguments, goals, and place in the literature.
  • A description of the projected audience and competing titles.
  • A brief statement on how the manuscript fits into a particular series or the areas that the press acquires in.
  • An estimate of the probable length of the book (both a page count and a word count are helpful), numbers of illustrations and tables, and a note on potential permissions issues (reproduction of illustrations or excerpts of poetry or musical lyrics).
  • A table of contents with brief descriptions of each chapter.
  • The introduction and another sample chapter (about 50-60 pages altogether).
  • A current vita for the author(s) or editor(s) summarizing professional experience, past publications, and relevant research.
  • For multi-authored or edited works, please identify which authors have committed themselves to contributing to the book and which are still negotiating. Also note whether any of the material has been previously published, and where.
  • If the manuscript is not complete, please provide a projected completion date.
  • Please email or mail your proposal to the appropriate acquisitions editor and series editor. Our typical response time for a preliminary inquiry is about six to eight weeks.

We look forward to hearing from you.