A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

For anyone who may have missed it

Just a reminder that, if you wish to send in a proposal for a book in the 33 1/3 series, you have until the end of this month to do so. Here's the original posting below, with full guidelines on how to do it.


You may be interested to know that, as of RIGHT NOW, we’re accepting proposals for future 33 1/3 books, to be published in 2010 and 2011. Please read the information below carefully – I’ve tried to outline the process as clearly as possible.

You can send in one proposal, about one album. Multiple submissions will not be accepted. Draconian, but true!

The “one book per band/artist” rule no longer exists. Therefore, we’ll consider proposals for books about any album that hasn’t already been covered in the series, or isn’t already under contract.

You can find a list of titles already published in the series here, and the books listed as “Coming 2008” and “Titles Announced for 2008 and 2009” are also off-limits. On the “Unknown Status” list, none of these are under contract any more (some of them never were!), with the exception of the books about Kate Bush, Lucinda Williams, and the Clash. So, just to be clear – if you send in a proposal for a book about Pink Flag or Loveless, it’ll be ignored. But if you send in a proposal for a book about The Basement Tapes or Chinese Democracy or Kid A, we’ll absolutely consider it.

The deadline for submission of proposals is midnight on Dec 31st. So you have until the last minute of 2008 (New York time). Any proposals received after that time (and I’ll be watching – drunk, but watching) will not be accepted.

If you have written a book for this series already: we love you, but we’d like to give others a chance. Spreading the wealth, kinda.

If you have submitted a proposal before, but have been turned down, you’re very welcome to have another go.

Regarding your choice of album: this is entirely up to you. I don’t, sadly, have the time to answer emails asking “would album X stand a better chance than album Y?” – so use your best judgment here. My advice would be this: we are looking to sell some books. That’s the bottom line. If you are absolutely convinced that we could sell 4,000 or 5,000 copies of a book about your chosen album, then go for it.

All proposals must be submitted via email. The address for submissions is as follows:


The subject line of your email must use this format: “Proposal for Big Country’s The Crossing”. (This will really help me keep it all organised: thank you in advance.)

Please don't send proposals to my regular work email. And if you have any questions about this process, ask them in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to answer them.

Your proposal should take the form of a Word document attachment. Don't include it in the body of your email.

All proposals that we get at the yahoo account will be acknowledged within a few days of receipt – except towards the end of December, when I may be offline for a little while. I’ll acknowledge those ones as soon as I’m able.


All proposals need to include these simple things:

Your name and contact details;

An outline (up to 2000 words) of how you would approach your album of choice. (This is key. Don’t assume, just because you’ve chosen a no-brainer record, that you don’t have to convince us about it. The best proposals have a real clarity to them, a purposeful angle, and a sense of determination. Why do you love the record? What’s fascinating about it? Why will thousands of people want to read about it? In this section, include any details as to whether you would contact the band/artist in question, or other people connected to the record in some way. Artist involvement isn’t essential, but it can certainly help.)

Up to 500 words about yourself, outlining why you're qualified to write about this record;

A couple of paragraphs on how you would help us promote your book: we do everything we can, but an active author makes a huge difference;

And finally, which book in the series would you hope to emulate, in terms of style and content?


A few more random details…

Absolutely anyone can submit a proposal, except for authors already under contract for the series. You don’t need to be a professional music writer or a legendary rock flautist to be considered.

Will we accept proposals about compilation albums? Yes. About live albums? Yes. About jazz albums? No. (Nothing personal!) About an album that hasn’t been recorded yet? Go ahead, convince us.

The books themselves are between 25,000 and 35,000 words. Almost invariably, this sounds easier than it is. So please only submit a proposal if you’re serious about writing one of these, and if you’re able to commit to it.

Also: I'd advise against doing this for the money. We can’t pay very much – there’s a modest advance against royalties. But if your book ends up selling nicely, you’ll get some decent pocket money for several years to come, and we try to supplement that with translation deals, audiobook deals, etc.

This is hard to predict, but I’d hope to have a yes/no decision for everyone who sends us a proposal by some point in March. It really depends on how many we receive.

Last time around (in early 2007), we received about 450 proposals, and ended up offering contracts to about 20 of them. So the odds aren’t great, when you think about it. If you bruise easily, you might want to think twice about trying this. On the other hand – go for it – it’s fun!

I sincerely hope this covers everything. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section to this post, and we’ll do our best to answer them. As we discovered previously, this system isn’t perfect, but we’ll do everything we can to make it fair, and as open as possible.

Oh, and if you want to share this posting on message boards, facebook, other blogs, go ahead and link to it. Thanks!



Anonymous said...

Wow. Just heard about this. Very tempting.

Could you please give more info on deadlines for when successful proposals would need to be complete?

Also, is it too early to say or do you plan to run the same submission call next year for 2011, 2012 publications?



David said...

Hi Ben - not sure what you're asking...If you mean, what would the manuscript deadlines be for those proposals we choose this time around, they tend to vary from six months to two years after the contract is signed.

Todd said...

do you allow submissions that would have 2 co-writers. or is it strictly one writer per book?

Anonymous said...

how long of a fiction sample would you like in order to get a proper feel for what to expect from the writer regarding a full book-

BG5000 said...

I was just about to ask that same question, Todd.

What's your position on collaborative efforts?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

From the proposal guidelines:

"In this (outline) section, include any details as to whether you would contact the band/artist in question, or other people connected to the record in some way."

I had previously used this forum to ask about the relative strictness of the word count parameters. On a similar note, is it positively necessary that we address potential artist involvement in the outline portion of the proposal? For the purposes of my project, I find that this would disrupt the continuity and organization of my piece. Would it be acceptable to address artist involvement in the section where I list my credentials as a writer and fan of the album in question?

brandon said...

Sorry if this is a dumb conversation, but the 2000-word outline, should that literally be in outline format or just a 2000 word write-up that outlines one's plans for the book?


David said...

Hmm, let's see...

* Co-authored proposals: absolutely no rule against this.

* A fiction sample? Maybe 1500-2000 words? Something like that.

* Artist involvement: totally fine to address this in a different part of your proposal.

* Brandon: however you want to approach it. As long as you cover all the points we're asking for, you should be fine.

Evie said...

Hi there,
I was sadly unable to process the concept of doing this until it was too late (there's no way I'd pull together something I'm happy with over the next five days, at my in-laws). Do you expect to do the next round in two years, or is it too early to say? Many thanks and happy holidays.

Anonymous said...

I presume that each proposal title should carry the title of the relevant album, rather than all of them reading “Proposal for Big Country’s The Crossing"...

...but correct me if I'm wrong. =)

Dan Shields said...

I can't believe I just stumbled upon this today! Is there a deadline set for the next batch of submissions yet?

Anonymous said...

missed the dec 08 deadline .is there an e-mail or something so i can keep up-to-date. thank-you,david

Anonymous said...

this might sound really stupid, but are the books meant to be essays or novels?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post. Thanks very much.