For Prospective Authors

This information should help you decide if UNC Press is an appropriate publisher for your manuscript, and if so, what a proposal should include and to whom you should send it.

UNC Press editors strongly prefer to receive initial inquiries and proposals electronically. We do not accept editorial inquiries by telephone, and unsolicited telephone inquiries will not be returned.

Areas of Interest
Submitting Proposals
Manuscript Review Process
Author and Manuscript Inquiry Form
Dissertation to Book

Areas of Interest

UNC Press publishes nonfiction books for academic and general audiences. We have a special interest in trade and scholarly titles about our region. The Press does not, however, publish original fiction, poetry, drama, memoir, or festschriften.

Areas of interest include:

African American studies
American history
American literature
American studies
Business/Economic history
Civil War Era history
Classics/Ancient history
Cooking and food history
Craft studies
Education history and policy
Environmental studies
Gender and sexuality studies
Latin American and Caribbean studies
Legal history
Media and communication
Military history
Native American and Indigenous studies
North Caroliniana
Policy/Policy history
Regional books
Religious studies
Social medicine
Southern studies
Urban studies
World history

A number of the Press’s books are published in special edited series. These series include:

Civil War America
David J. Weber Series in the New Borderlands History
Envisioning Cuba
Gender and American Culture
Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks
John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture
Justice, Power, and Politics
Latin America in Translation/en Traducción/em Traduçao
Littlefield History of the Civil War Era
The Luther H. Hodges Jr. and Luther H. Hodges Sr. Series on Business, Society, and the State
The New Cold War History
New Directions in Southern Studies
Studies in Social Medicine
Studies in the History of Greece and Rome

The Press also publishes for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, sponsored by the College of William and Mary.

For more information about our recent publications and areas of interest, please consult our catalog and listings of books by subject.

Submitting Proposals

We welcome your written proposal and will respond to your inquiry as quickly as possible. Whenever possible, please address your proposal to the appropriate acquisitions editor. Please be sure to include with the proposal a cover letter and a c.v. or resume. To learn more about submitting proposals–and the rest of the publishing process at UNC Press–please visit our online resource, The Publishing Process: A Guide for Authors. Particularly see the Author Guide to Acquisitions page, which gives step-by-step details about the process.

Your proposal should give the editors and other Press staff a clear idea of what your intended 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 are also interested in knowing what potential audiences you foresee. What comparable titles have been published? Is this a scholarly book, and, if so, 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? (If so, please list specific classes it could be used in or books you believe it would replace.) Is this a trade book, intended for general readers?

Proposals should include the following:

  • A brief narrative description of the manuscript, including its themes, arguments, goals, and place in the literature. Please highlight the significant contribution of the work.
  • A description of the projected audience and closely related or competing titles. Include information on other books’ page lengths, publishers, and prices where possible.
  • A brief statement on how the manuscript fits into a particular area or series in which the press acquires.
  • An estimate of the probable length of the book (both a page count and a word count are helpful), numbers of possible illustrations and tables, and a note on any potential permissions issues (reproduction of illustrations or excerpts of poetry or musical lyrics, for example).
  • A chapter outline or annotated table of contents with thorough descriptions of each chapter, including key arguments and sources used.
  • The introduction and another sample chapter (about 50-60 pages altogether) may be helpful.
  • 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.

We prefer that authors do not submit complete manuscripts unless invited to do so by an editor.

Our policy is to recycle proposal materials after consideration. If you would like these materials returned, be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

If you would like to suggest a book that might be reprinted in a paperback edition, please send your proposal to the appropriate acquisitions editor.

The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808

Manuscript Review Process

If you are a Press author and need more specific information about the preparation and submission of a manuscript, please consult our online resource, The Publishing Process: A Guide for Authors, which walks you through the entire process of publishing a book with UNC Press.

Manuscripts invited for review will receive our careful attention. The first evaluation all manuscripts undergo is a preliminary in-house review, which determines the general suitability of a project for our list. This process may take several weeks. Thereafter, the manuscript will either be returned or sent to a scholar or expert in the field for a formal review.

The Board of Governors of the Press, which authorizes all publications, requires that every manuscript recommended to it by the Press have the written support of at least two outside peer reviewers. Their reports are made on a confidential basis, and copies are sent to the author. As our reviewers are distinguished scholars with many commitments, this part of the evaluation process can be time-consuming. We do our best to provide authors with thoughtful and useful responses to their manuscripts within a reasonable amount of time, and we keep authors informed throughout.

The review process represents an investment of intellectual concern, time, and money. We prefer to be the only press considering your manuscript, at least until we have received the first reader’s report. We do understand time and tenure pressures, however, and we are willing to consider simultaneous submissions on a case-by-case basis.

Author and Manuscript Inquiry Form

If invited to submit a complete manuscript, your editor may ask you to complete an Author and Manuscript Inquiry Form (DOC) which provides us with pertinent information about yourself and your work. Please take the time to fill out this form carefully and completely as it plays an important role in our review process.

Dissertation to Book

As Peter Givler, executive director of the Association of American University Presses, has written, “There is no magic formula that will guarantee acceptance [of a revised dissertation for publication], but by becoming aware of some of the characteristics of a dissertation that can hinder publication, you may increase the odds of placing your manuscript successfully” (“Notes from an Acquiring Editor,” Imprimenda, Fall 1980).

The following is a brief annotated bibliography of useful sources for authors transforming a dissertation into a book manuscript.

Association of American University Presses Directory (published annually by the AAUP)

This annual directory lists information on scholarly presses in the U.S., Canada, and overseas. Entries on each press include names and contact information for acquisitions editors, plus a handy subject grid that shows which presses publish in particular fields.

Robin Derricourt, An Author’s Guide to Scholarly Publishing (Princeton, 1996)

Derricourt, twelve years the publishing director of Cambridge University Press and a published scholar himself, brings a tremendous amount of knowledge to the subject.

William Germano, From Dissertation to Book (Chicago, 2005)

Here the focus is on revision and “revisioning” process. Excellent tips on how to approach the problem of turning the diss. into a publishable work.

William Germano, Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books (Chicago, 2001)

Addresses such questions as: Why does an editor choose some books and decline others? How does a writer decide where to submit a project? How does the peer review process work? And what can an author expect from a publisher–before, during, and after publication?

Eleanor Harman and Ian Montagnes, eds., The Thesis and the Book (Toronto, 1976)

Though Luey’s book has surpassed this one in many ways, this was once considered the bible on the subject and remains a useful reference.

Richard Lanham, Revising Prose, 3rd edition (Macmillan, 1992)

An excellent reference for all authors interested in strengthening their prose.

Beth Luey, Handbook for Academic Authors (Cambridge, 1995)

A very clear and informative treatment that covers such topics as revising a dissertation, finding and working with a publisher, the mechanics of authorship, etc. We think it is the single best guide.

Liz McMillen, “A Doctoral Dissertation Is Not Yet a Book, Young Tenure-Seeking Scholars are Told,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 Februray 1986.

A useful, albeit somewhat dated discussion by editorial consultants of the ways academics often hurt their chances for publication.

William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, 4th edition (Allyn and Bacon, 1999)

Still the classic handbook for writing and revision.