Book Proposal Guidelines

At Sigma, we work with our authors at each step of the process and the proposal process is no different. Whether you’re a first timer or experienced pro, you’ll find the proposal process enlightening. Crystallizing your concept into an outline and conceiving who will buy it is an important step. Additionally, you’ll find much of this work will be used throughout the entire project.

Preparing Proposals

A book proposal includes a prospectus and a sample chapter. All submissions should be double spaced, 12-point type, and include headings that support a clear hierarchy. A typical book proposal can be as brief as 3-5 pages and as lengthy as 15 pages.

Prospectus should include:

  • Working title with any descriptors, subtitle, or positioning statement.
  • Name of the authors, editors, and any contributors already identified.
  • Brief biographical profiles with credentials, certifications, and affiliations of the authors, editors, and/or primary contributors already identified. If the book will include contributors, submit their names, credentials, institutional affiliation and position, and the names of chapter(s) each contributor will write.
  • Description of topic.
  • Description of how this book uniquely addresses a need in the market.
  • Primary audience — be as specific as possible about the primary audience for your book. How will it be used? Do you intend the book to be a clinical text or reference for professionals? To what organizations/individuals would we most effectively market it? Who will buy this book?
  • Number of chapters and form of book—Do you envision lengthy text chapters?
  • Stories from nurses in the field? Short tips and tricks? Lots of check lists or lists of resources?
  • Images—will photos, illustrations, tables or figures be included in the book? If so, approximately how many in each chapter or within the book?
  • Projected word count.
  • How long you would need to write or prepare the manuscript.
  • What are the goals for writing this book — will it inform, expand, or change current thinking?
  • Competitive works — include titles, authors, price, publisher, and year published. Also include an analysis showing how your book will differ from the competing books.

Upload electronic
proposals directly
via our web form

Please note: If this is an unsolicited proposal, Sigma may have received other proposals on the same topic, idea, or concept. They may also already have published a book or have a book approved or in production on the same topic, idea, or concept. If your unsolicited proposal is rejected, Sigma still reserves the right to publish on the same topic with another author. They won't, however, use any of your material, samples, or outline.

Table of Contents

Your table of contents is the meat of the book. It’s not only how we know what you intend to cover in the book, but it’s also the basis for suggestions, expansions, and all future planning on the book. It’s much easier to make structural revisions to the outline than it is to written chapters. Your proposal should include:

  • Chapter level table of contents and as many subheads as you can add.
  • If you don’t have a full sub-head level outline, then supply a detailed description of your vision for the chapter.


Review and Submissions

  • All manuscripts submitted to Sigma should be original, unpublished material that is not under simultaneous review by another publisher.
  • If you have a literary agent (not required), please inform the publisher or note it in your proposal.
  • If the work or portions of the work are out of print, have been previously published or are portions of another in print work, please note it in your proposal.
  • Please note your proposal may be submitted for peer review. Sigma may request peer reviewers to evaluate the proposal. The identity of the author/editor may be disclosed to reviewers, but the reviewers’ identities will not be known to the author/editor.
  • Before submitting your proposal, please take a moment to ensure everything on the list above is included.


Submitting a Proposal

Proposals should be submitted electronically. Complete our proposal submission form and upload the prospectus as a Word document here

Sigma is a global organization committed to providing equal opportunity to all nurse authors worldwide. Please contact us directly should you have questions or comments.

Next Steps

After submission. The publisher, acquiring editor and others will review your proposal for content, approach, marketability, and whether or not it fits with Sigma's overall publishing mission. The publisher or acquiring editor may ask you for additional information or to revise a portion of the proposal or outline.

Behind the scenes. After you submit your proposal, please be patient. A number of things are happening at Sigma. The acquiring editor and/or publisher are researching the market, and sales opportunities for your book. Based on this information, the publisher may or may not decide to proceed with your idea. If not, the publisher and/or acquiring editor will let you know. 

If the publisher chooses to proceed, the publisher or acquiring editor will prepare a business plan for the book. This is an internal document based in part on your proposal. The publisher will also prepare financial documents as well as preliminary sales documents. 

Next, the publisher schedules an internal product approval meeting with several additional stakeholders at Sigma, in essence, a publishing board. After this meeting, the publisher or acquiring editor may ask for additional changes and/or information. However, if your book is approved at this meeting, the acquiring editor and/or publisher may then offer you contract terms for your book. Be aware, this entire process can take between 6 and 10 weeks. Congratulations! You’re going to be an author!