(Part 1 of this series is here.)
The book proposal that I sent to LSU Press in 2006 was modeled on one that I used for Old Hickory’s Nephew . I tweaked the focus of the Jackson proposal based on my experience with LSU Press and advice from the 1st edition of William Germano’s book, Getting It Published.
The structure of my book proposal was:
“Andrew Jackson, Southerner” was (and still is) the tentative title. My wife thinks all of my book titles should have Old Hickory in them, so I’m going to suggest a title to LSU Press with a variation of Jackson’s nickname in it.
REASON FOR WRITING
I hope saying “to make oodles of money” wasn’t too crass.
I proposed 8, but I don’t know what the number will wind up being.
PROPOSED COMPLETION DATE
I asked for five years but had to request a six-month extension of the original Fall 2011 date in order to keep from completely embarrassing myself by submitting an incoherent and error-riddled draft, one with overly long sentences that needed editing badly.
I provided my main argument, that Jackson was a southerner, not a westerner, then a chapter outline with a short description for each. The original chapter titles were:
Chapter 1: “Gentleman”
Chapter 2: “Speculator”
Chapter 3: “Patron”
Chapter 4: “Hero”
Chapter 5: “Conqueror”
Chapter 6: “Democrat”
Chapter 7: “President”
Chapter 8: “Planter”
Chapter 9: “Statesman”
After including a short summary of my career to that point in an “About the Author Section,” I concluded with two of the most important sections (or so I’ve been told):
READERSHIP AND MARKET
I pitched the book as one that would make a good biography for classroom use (shorter than Remini’s, longer than James Curtis’), as well as one that would appeal to the general public.
COMPARISON WITH OTHER BOOKS
Of course, I had no idea in August 2006 that Jon Meacham had shifted the focus of his Jackson book to a biography that would win a Pulitzer and become a best-seller. This was what I wrote about the two books that I saw as possible competition: “Two biographies of Andrew Jackson have appeared recently: H.W. Brands’ Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times and Andrew Burstein’s The Passions of Andrew Jackson. Neither of these biographies treats Jackson’s southern identity; instead, they either pass over it or present the same, brief examples about Jackson’s management of slaves, ownership of plantations, etc.”
Using this particular book proposal structure doesn’t guarantee success, but I think it addresses the major points that publishers are looking for. While I hope this post helps someone, if you haven’t read Germano’s book, I strongly recommend that you do so before putting together a proposal for an academic press.
 Advice that Tommy Anderson, an English professor and colleague at SNHU (and now on faculty at my alma mater), shared with me helped me immensely on the OHN proposal.
Part 3 of the series is here.