The journey of another CUP book – here’s a sample of a proposal for an edited volume

In 2016, I posted the book proposal and cover letter of my 2017 book with Cambridge University Press, Innovations in Urban Climate Governance: Voluntary Programs for Low-Carbon Buildings and Cities. Somewhat to my surprise, that one is by far the most read blog post I’ve published to date.

I am currently in the process of rounding up an edited volume with Cambridge University Press, Urban Climate Politics: Agency and Empowerment. The book is the outcome of a collaboration with Harriet Bulkeley and Chiara Certomà (the co-editors) and a group of over 20 colleagues from around the world who share an interest in urban climate politics and governance.

When we started this journey, we again found very limited examples of proposals for edited volumes online. Therefore, in this blog post, I share our edited volume proposal. I hope it will be helpful to you in shaping up your book proposal.


The book in a nutshell

Our edited volume builds on the burgeoning literature on urban climate politics and governance. This literature indicates that urban responses to climate change involve a diverse range of actors as well as forms of agency that cross traditional boundaries, and that have diverse consequences for (dis)empowering different social groups. The new book provides an overview of the forms of agency in urban climate politics and discusses the friction and power dynamics between them. It critically assesses the advantages and limitations of increasing agency in urban climate governance. In doing so, it sheds critical new light on the existing literature, advances the state of knowledge of urban climate governance, and discusses ways to accelerate urban climate action.

The book is part of the Earth System Governance series with Cambridge University Press. This series publishes the main research findings and synthesis volumes from the Earth System Governance Project’s first ten years of operation. The Earth System Governance Project was established in 2009. Since then, it has evolved into the largest social science research network in the area of sustainability and governance. It explores political solutions and novel, more effective governance mechanisms to cope with the current transitions in the socio-ecological systems of our planet.


The journey in a nutshell

Harriet, Chiarà, and I started thinking about the book project in late 2016. We are part of the Earth System Governance Project and followed up on a call to harvest the key research findings from this community in a series of books and journal contributions. We set out a call for contributions (chapters) early in 2017. We got a good set of expressions of interest from which we have selected the chapters that make up the body of the book.

In October 2017, most authors were able to attend the Earth System Governance Annual Conference in Lund. We spent two afternoons workshopping the book: As editors, we presented the draft book proposal, and all the authors presented their draft chapters. All chapters got three sets of reviews: one from us as editors, and two from authors of two other chapters. From there on we finalised the book proposal and submitted it to Cambridge University Press early in 2018.

Because the book series was already established, the proposal was quickly discussed by the publisher’s board. They thought it was of good quality, and from there on the proposal was sent to four peer-reviewers. We received overall positive reviews, with a few suggestions for improvements (which partly explain the differences between the final book and the proposal). By September 2018 the proposal was accepted.

Meanwhile, we kept chasing up the contributing authors to deliver their final drafts (and they all have within deadlines – thanks all!) to get the full manuscript to the publisher’s proof-reader before Christmas 2018. This week we received the page proofs, and by mid-February 2019 the book will go in production.


All in all

As with the other Cambridge University Press book, it’s been a long but pleasant journey. Fingers crossed we’ll see the result by mid-2019.

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