Author Resources

How to Contact an Editor


Submissions from both authors and literary agents are invited.  The simplest, fastest way to contact us is by email.

Often, prospective authors have had a chance to meet a McFarland editor at a conference or are otherwise already acquainted with an editor. If so, feel free to direct your query or proposal to the attention of a specific editor, but it is best emailed to so that it is expedited into our proposal evaluation process. Feel free to mark your submission to the attention of a specific editor,  but please do not submit it to more than one.

Our editors attend numerous academic conferences each year.  If you and McFarland are both attending the same conference, you are invited to meet with an editor.  You can schedule an appointment by emailing us in advance (email, or you can stop by the McFarland booth in the conference’s exhibit hall for a casual conversation with an editor.

What McFarland Publishes

McFarland, a leading independent publisher of academic and general-interest nonfiction books, is perhaps best known for the serious treatment of popular culture. We are recognized among authors and readers as adventurous in range and a reliable source of worthy books that other publishers overlook.  Meeting high library standards has been a major focus since the company began, and many McFarland books have received awards from the academic-oriented (e.g., Choice Outstanding Academic Title, ALA Outstanding Reference Work) to the mainstream (Hugo, Edgar, Stoker, and Eisner, among others).  You can also see what current authors are saying about McFarland, and what others are saying about McFarland.

We publish about 320 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 Vietnam War combat memoirs, 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. McFarland does not publish children’s books, inspirational works, cookbooks, diet or self-help books, religious or political tracts, or exposés.  (Note that serious books about self-help, diet, and stories of personal triumph over adversity are considered by our imprint, Toplight Books, and our Exposit Books imprint seeks proposals about true crime.)

Making a Proposal

What We Need to See
Authors may submit their work to 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

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

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.

Guidelines for Book Series and Journals
Journals and most book series have their own editor. Please consult the journal or series page for additional, specific instructions.

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.