Becoming an Author

What McFarland Publishes

McFarland is a leading independent publisher of academic and general interest nonfiction books. McFarland is known for covering topics of popular appeal in a serious and scholarly fashion, and for going to great lengths to manufacture our books to the highest standards and library specifications. Among many librarians especially, McFarland is viewed as distinguished yet daring. You can also see what current authors are saying about McFarland, and what others are saying about McFarland.

We publish nearly 400 new print books each year, with nearly all having a simultaneous ebook edition. McFarland welcomes proposals for nonfiction manuscripts on a wide range of subjects, not limited to the following: popular culture and performing arts (especially film, television, dance, gaming), military history (especially World War II and Civil War), international studies, health topics, sports (especially baseball, boxing, American football), automotive (and planes and trains), literary studies (including both classic and genre fiction, mystery, SF, fantasy, horror), medieval studies, mythology, folklore, and women’s and gender studies. Multicontributor manuscripts and edited collections of essays are welcome. We suggest you browse our catalog to get a feel for our offerings.

With rare exceptions (usually connected to a scholarly purpose), we do not publish fiction or poetry. We do not publish children’s books, inspirational works, cookbooks, diet or self-help books, religious or political tracts, exposés, or stories of personal triumph over adversity.

Whom to Contact

You may send your materials to any editor at McFarland. If you do not have a contact name, simply email our general mailbox or write “editorial department” on the outside of your package. Please do not send an email or proposal to more than one editor.

[email protected]

Box 611 [for services other than U.S. mail: 960 NC Highway 88 West]
Jefferson, NC 28640, USA

Making a Proposal

What We Need to See
Authors may contact us via three methods: with a query letter, a full proposal, or even (if the manuscript is complete and you’re confident it could fit in among the books we’ve already published) a finished manuscript with cover letter.

  • In a query letter you should describe the manuscript, tell us how far along you are, estimate its final length (in either word count or double-spaced typescript pages), and tell us what is unique about the manuscript (or about you!). We answer most queries within a few days; if we’re interested we’ll invite you to send either the complete manuscript or a full proposal.
  • full book proposal should contain the following elements: an overall description, outline or table of contents, estimates of total word count and completion date, a preface or introduction, comments on how the book differs from any competing works on the same topic, a summary of what you might offer in the way of photographs or other illustrations, and some samples of the manuscript (1-2 chapters or the equivalent, plus representative pages of any special parts).

Academic Authors
If you are an author with a scholarly manuscript, please see our Frequently Asked Questions about peer review. If you have any questions not answered there, please write to [email protected].

If you are interested in serving as an external reader, please email a current version of your CV and your area of expertise to [email protected].

How to Present the Work
Query letters and proposals should be emailed or mailed. You may visit McFarland in person for a tour or social visit, but we are unable to evaluate proposals “while you wait.”

Double-space your manuscript or manuscript excerpts. Number the pages consecutively in a single sequence. If you are mailing a print-out, use good white paper printed on one side only and do not bind it. Valuable documents or photographs need not be sent at the proposal stage, though photocopies of them are helpful. Package your print-outs securely and be sure to put your name and return address on the package, on your cover letter, and on the top page of the proposal or manuscript. Please enclose a return mailer with postage, or else a note that the materials need not be returned.

When You’ll Hear from Us
We usually respond within a month of receiving a full proposal, and often much sooner. Our decisions are based largely on the freshness of the topic, how well it fits in with our list, how thoroughly and authoritatively you cover it, the quality of the research and writing, and the likely marketability of the book.


If your proposed book seems overall to be a good fit for us, we will correspond with you about any particular matters that need to be discussed (sometimes we receive a proposal, or manuscript, with no discernible strings dangling). Sometimes this discussion takes a few weeks; sometimes it takes longer, depending in large part on the author’s schedule and the manuscript’s progress. The offer of a contract comes after we have determined that we and you the author are in agreement on all major points.

A sample of our standard contract may be viewed here for most manuscripts and here for multicontributor essay collections and some other manuscripts. Our contract is standard for all authors (with the exception of a different royalty for certain categories of manuscripts), and is not negotiable. We have a relatively small staff and thousands of authors, and the contract is simple by design. We want to be able to answer contractual questions without having to look up each contract. A standard contract also ensures fairness to all our authors.

It does not cost anything to publish with McFarland. McFarland has not ever and will not ever take any payment or subvention from authors. You bear only the expenses of providing a complete manuscript (including any necessary illustrations and permissions). McFarland does not offer advances–the economic constraints of scholarly publishing make this impossible. We pay a good royalty.