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FAQ about Publishing with BK

May I submit my proposal in electronic format?

We require that submissions come to us in PDF form. All electronic formats other than PDF will be deleted and not considered. You may email your proposal to submissions AT bkpub DOT com. If you already have a draft manuscript, you may include it along with your proposal, however, a draft manuscript itself will not be considered a complete proposal. The subject line should state, "Proposal for Berrett-Koehler Publishers." 


What do you look for in a proposal and how long should it be?

Our proposal guidelines can be found here. Please note that most publishers ask for the same information to be included in proposals to them, so this document and the time you invest creating it will serve multiple purposes. As far as length is concerned, we recommend not exceeding thirty pages, if possible. We receive over 1,500 proposals a year and do not have a staff member whose specific duty is only to review proposals. As such, we rarely have the time to commit to long, unsolicited queries. If you want more in-depth advice on how to write a good proposal, please head over to our Write Right blog what has many articles on what to do and what not to do in writing your proposal.


What sorts of books do you publish and how do I know if mine is a good fit with your various agendas?

Read the About Us page on this site to learn more about our publishing program. You can also browse our catalog. We look for books with a single, diving, central message rather than overly broad generalist books.  If your book would fit in with the books we publish, there is a better chance of publication with us. We do stay quite focused on our niche topics, and we do not publish memoirs or books with deeply religious or spiritual message.


Do you only accept agent-represented authors and projects?

No, we accept proposals from both agents and authors and we do not have a preference for one over the other.


What are the royalties Berrett-Koehler pays its authors?

Standard royalties begin at 10% on the first 10,000 copies sold, 15% on the next 20,000, and 20% thereafter on net received. On subsidiary rights, the royalty payments are 50%, except electronic, which is at a flat 15%. Please note that all royalties are paid on the basis of net payments received. You can download and review our standard agreement here.


Does Berrett-Koehler offer advances for authors they sign?

We offer a flat $5,000 advance to each author, and we do not make any exceptions to that policy.  It is a small advance as far as industry standards, but we do think that the other benefits our publication agreements offer our authors are worth considering.


If my manuscript is not complete, should I still submit a proposal to Berrett-Koehler or should I wait until it is finished?

No need to wait. A proposal that clearly outlines the work to be written will suffice quite well. Again, proposal guidelines can be found here.


What is the average timeline from proposal submission to finished, on-the-shelf product?

The entire publication process takes 9-18 months.


If I have a manuscript, do I need to submit a proposal as well?

Yes! Our editors do not have the time or the resources to read all proposed manuscripts and prefer to rely, initially, on proposals. As mentioned before, putting together a proposal based on our guidelines is  generally a good idea, as other publishing companies will ask for the same information.


Can you print books on 100% recycled paper?

We do have this ability, but the majority of books are not printed in this way due to the overwhelming cost - to the author, the publisher, and the customer. On average, this service can raise the shelf price of a book significantly. The higher price point makes a book less desirable to the general consumer and can impact sales dramatically. However, we do print on paper with the highest % of recycled paper that will yield a viable price, and all of our printers are based in the USA, we do not outsource anything to other countries.


Do you publish fiction books?

No, Berrett-Koehler publishes non-fiction books in the field of business, current affairs, and personal growth. 


What can I expect from Berrett-Koehler as my publisher?

Too many things to list here, but we recommend checking out the various articles and pieces on our documents page -- especially the Publishing Documents and Author Resources sections.


When will I hear back from someone following my proposal submission?

If you submit your proposal in the correct format, you may receive a response within 4-6 weeks. Please note that proposals not submitted in the correct format with all requested materials may not receive any response. 


Does Berrett-Koehler offer the option of self-publishing?

Unfortunately we do not.  We had a self-publishing partnership, but the program was not a success so we chose to close it down.