How Your Book Will Get Acquired by a Publisher

Flowchart nerds, rejoice!

It’s still October! I’m still on my month-long reading sabbatical! I’m technically not working right now, but I’ve planned this month of newsletters as a series of gifts from me to my fellow process geeks. Get ready for worksheets, flowcharts, and handouts!

This week’s offering is a flowchart I designed to explain the process of getting your scholarly book acquired by a publisher, from first point of contact with an acquisitions editor to signing of the contract.

Download a full-size PDF of the flowchart here

I had the idea for this flowchart a couple years ago, when I was putting together the curriculum for my Book Proposal Accelerator. I thought there must be a way to visualize the often opaque process of book acquisitions for prospective authors.

I tried sketching it on paper at first, but I kept needing to move things around and erasing got too messy. A whiteboard would have been perfect, but I didn’t own one. I did have the glass-doored Ikea cabinet that I keep my yarn in, so I taped a large piece of white paper behind one of the doors and used dry erase markers to draft the flowchart on the glass.

Once I got it sketched that way, I made a colored-pencil-and-paper version, which I took a picture of and sent to a graphic designer I’d hired to lay out the first version of the Book Proposal Accelerator materials. She made it into a pretty chart, which is what I’m sharing with you today.

This flowchart also appears in a slightly adapted form in The Book Proposal Book, on page 13. Chapter 1 walks you through the whole acquisitions process textually, too, in case flowcharts aren’t your thing.

I hope this glimpse into the process of scholarly book acquisition gives you a better handle on the process, whether you’re currently in the middle of it or about just thinking about starting with that first contact.


I have a quick favor to ask, while you’re here. As I’ve said here before, I know that not everyone needs or wants a book about how to write a book proposal and get their scholarly book published (and that’s fine). But for those who do want a book like that, I want to make sure they’re at least aware that The Book Proposal Book exists.

For better or worse, Amazon is where a lot of people find out about books. Some readers even use the site like a search engine. While I don’t support Amazon’s monopolistic and exploitative practices, I recognize that if I want people to know about the resources offered in my book, I’m going to have to play Amazon’s game. Therefore, to increase visibility for The Book Proposal Book on that platform, I’ve set a goal to get 50 ratings and 25 reviews by the end of the 2021.

This is where you come in. If you’ve found The Book Proposal Book helpful and think other scholars should know about it, would you pretty please consider posting a rating or review on Amazon? (I don’t think you need to have bought the book on Amazon to leave a review, as long as you have some kind of purchase history with them.)

Your review doesn’t have to be long and involved. A few words to help Amazon’s algorithms understand that they should be showing this book to people would be great. And I’ll be so, so grateful! Thank you very much to those of you who left a rating or review after last week’s newsletter. I noticed, and I appreciate you.

See you next week with some more PDF goodies!