The review and commissioning process
We pride ourselves on publishing high quality, scholarly works, and in order to maintain a high standard of publications, all book proposals and manuscripts undergo a rigorous process of assessment by peer review. The guidelines below explain the review process.
How long will it take?
For reviewers of book proposals, we ask that reports be returned within two weeks; for reviewers of manuscripts, we ask reports to be returned within six weeks. However, this review process can take longer due to finding a suitable and available reviewer, the length of the submission and the workload of the reviewer. We always aim to ask the best academics in the field to review submissions, however, they are often very busy, so we have to wait until they are available to review the work and write their report. The review process can also take longer if the submission is for a particular series, as series editors often have a number of proposals and manuscripts under consideration at the same time.
The review process can therefore take from just two weeks to three or four months, depending on the availability of the reviewers, how long the reviewer takes and the number of reports required. On average the review process for a book proposal takes about six weeks; for a manuscript, it is about eight weeks.
How many reports are required?
At least two positive reports are required for every work commissioned. If the submission is for a series then a report from one of the series editors is also necessary. If the reports are negative or lukewarm, or if the commissioning editor is still unsure of the submission, then more reports may be sought.
What happens when the reports come in?
The reports are sent to the author for their comments and feedback. This is an important process of the review process as it gives the author a chance to defend or agree with any criticisms or suggestions made, and, if necessary, make revisions to the original submission. It is our policy to protect the identity of reviewers by making all reports anonymous.
If the reports are negative, or if the commissioning editor decides not to contract the book, then the submission would be declined for publication at this stage.
When will a contract be offered?
Once the reports and the author's response are in the commissioning editor will decide whether a contract will be offered. This may take between a few days or a couple of weeks, depending on the submission, the nature of the reports and the author's response, the completion of research on the market and competition, and the working out of provisional production costs to make sure the submission is financially viable.
Once the commissioning editor decides to contract the work, terms are negotiated with the author and the submission is put before the Editorial and University Board.
What is the Editorial and University Board?
The Board is made up of senior members of the Press and distinguished academics at the University of Manchester. Once the author and commissioning editor agree contract terms, the commissioning editor presents the submission to the Editorial and University Board for consideration at a meeting, which is held every two weeks. If all Board members agree to commission the work, then a contract will be sent out to the author within the next few weeks. If the Board declines publishing the work, then it can either be resubmitted with more information by the editor at a future meeting or completely declined for publication.
What happens after the book is contracted?
Once a work is under contract, the author is left to write the book and submit the manuscript before or on the agreed delivery date. The commissioning editor will be in touch regularly to check on the author's progress and will be there to answer any questions or queries the author may have. If an author thinks that they may go over the agreed contracted terms (i.e. fail to meet the agreed delivery date, or is over the contracted word length or number of illustrations) then they should contact the commissioning editor as soon as possible.
What happens when I submit the final manuscript?
Once the contracted manuscript is submitted it will be sent out to a reviewer for a final report. This usually takes between six and eight weeks, depending on the availability of the reviewer and the length of time it takes them to read the manuscript and write their report.
One positive report is needed at this stage, although if the book is in a series then a report by one of the series editors is also required. Once the report is in, it is forwarded to the author and any changes are discussed with the commissioning editor. If substantial changes are required then the manuscript is likely to be reviewed again once the revisions have been made. If only minor changes are to be made, the manuscript is revised accordingly by the author and then passed over to the production department.