For Authors

Information for Authors

For Prospective Authors

Contact Zed’s Editors

Ken Barlow (Commissioning Editor)
Politics • Economics • African Studies

Kim Walker (Commissioning Editor)
Development Studies • Gender Studies • Middle East Studies • Asian Studies • Environment

Kika Sroka-Miller (Commissioning Editor)
Political Activism • Political Theory • Latin America • Gender and Sexualities • International Relations • Translations and Co-publications

Editorial phone: +(44) (0)20 7837 0384

Zed's Publishing Programme

Zed is an independent scholarly publishing house, catering predominantly to the needs of academics and students, and occasionally to a wider audience of activists, policy-makers and interested general readers. We aim for all our books to reach the broadest possible audience, and therefore only publish books which are likely to have a substantial market in paperback (though in most cases we will also produce a hardback edition for the library market). Our commitment as a quality non-fiction publisher is to books of intellectual distinction and originality; books that embody Global South and internationalist perspectives, interests and commitment; and books that relate to neglected issues of all kinds and to disadvantaged social groups.

We publish books on the following subjects:

  • Politics and International Relations
  • Economics
  • Development Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Area Studies (Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America)
  • Environment

We publish a variety of student textbooks, polemics and original research. If you have a proposal which you think meets these criteria, please read the next section and contact the relevant editor at Zed. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

Book Proposal Guidelines

Please send Zed a proposal via email (not hardcopy) detailing the following information:

Provisional book title
Author Information

  • Name
  • Address, telephone number and email
  • Current position


  • What will the book be about and how is it original?
  • What will its main argument be?
  • Why is this book necessary?
  • Please suggest three unique selling points for the book
  • Which Zed categories would you suggest it falls within (maximum three, delete as appropriate)
    • Area studies (Africa, Middle East, Latin America, Asia)
    • Development
    • Economics
    • Environment
    • Gender
    • Politics
  • Outline
    • A 200-word summary of the book that might be used for marketing and back cover purposes
    • Provisional table of contents
    • Short descriptions of the contents of chapters
    • Provisional word length (including bibliography and footnotes/endnotes) – NB please state length in terms of word count, not number of pages
    • Figures, tables and illustrations
    • Provisional manuscript submission date
    • Details of any deadlines we should be aware of, e.g. an impending conference, meeting or book launch

Readers and Marketing

As the author/editor, you have valuable insight into the readership and markets for your book. Please provide as much qualitative and quantitative detail as possible about the prospective primary markets for your book.

  • For whom is the book intended and what level is it aimed at (undergraduates/postgraduates/academics & researchers/activists & policy-makers, general readers)? Please be as specific as possible, outlining the primary and secondary readerships and, where relevant, giving examples of courses/disciplines/research for which the book might be particularly suited.
  • Will the book be a main text, supplementary reading, or a research monograph (please choose one)?
  • Why will they buy this book?
  • What existing books compete with (or complement) this one and how will this book differ from the competition?
  • How you can help promote and market the book? Additional Information
  • Has any or all of the work been published before, such as in a journal, report, conference proceedings or online? If so, please give details.
  • Have colleagues seen this work before? Can you share their comments with us?
  • Have you submitted the book to any other publishers?
  • In what form will you be able to supply the final manuscript?
  • Who is the copyright holder of the material?
  • Is there any institutional support for the publication, or other prospects for discounted bulk purchases of the book?
  • Please suggest two possible referees (we are also likely to gather our own)
  • Please attach a short author biog as well as your CV Please note that due to the very high volume of unsolicited proposals we receive we are not able to acknowledge receipt of every one individually. If your proposal is of interest we will be in touch with you within eight weeks to express interest and give feedback before the proposal goes out for external review. If you have not heard from us after eight weeks, please assume that your proposal has not been successful on this occasion.

Preparing a manuscript and computer disks

Guidelines for Authors, Editors and Contributors

Table of Contents

Preparing a Manuscript General Notes

Book Proposal Guidelines - Chapters/Sub-Headings Within Chapters - Quotations - Spelling - Notes/References - Acknowledging Quotations from Secondary Sources - Bibliography - Abbreviations/Contractions - Punctuation - Capitalization - Hyphens - Numbers and Dates - Italics -Tables and Other Tabulated Material - Figures/Graphs/Maps etc. - Photographs and Other Illustrative Materials - Transliteration and Diacriticals - Copy-Edited Manuscript - Proofs - Index

Preparing a Computer Disk General Notes

Footnotes/Endnotes - Transportation - Finally


  • We need two complete copies of your manuscript and one computer disk corresponding precisely to the printout submitted and formatted according to Preparing Computer Disk (see below). The pages should be clearly numbered consecutively from beginning to end (i.e. not each chapter separately). Keep one copy of the manuscript and disk yourself.

  • Use A4 size paper. Everything, including notes and bibliography, is to be typed double spaced on one side of the paper only, with a generous margin left and right.

  • In the event of any additions being made after the manuscript has been typed, such additions should be inserted either between the lines at the appropriate place or, if extensive, typed on a separate sheet (numbered a, b, c, as: 42a, 42b, 48a, etc.) with a clear indication of its position in the text.

  • Please do not:

write in the margins
write at the top or bottom of a page
write on the reverse of a page

  • Please do: Ensure that any hand-written insertions/alterations are legible. Deleted matter should be scored through each line/word to avoid confusion.

Chapters/Sub-Headings Within Chapters

  • Start each chapter on a new page; indicate chapter number (in Arabic numerals) and title clearly.
  • To enable readers to follow the direction of your exposition/argument, please provide sub-headings within each chapter.
  • Headings may be clearly indicated in the margin by 'A' (subheading), 'B' (sub-subheading) or 'C' (sub-sub-subheading).
  • Sub-heads should not be prefixed with numbers.


  • Short quotes (less than four lines of type) to run on in the text in single opening and closing quotation marks, with double quotation marks for any quotation within them.
  • A quotation of four or more lines of type should be indented, with no quotation marks at the beginning or end but with single quote marks within it if required. Source to be indicated by a textual reference number or other source citation as used throughout the text.


  • Please ensure that the names of people/places, etc. are spelt consistently throughout the manuscript; particular attention is necessary in the case of names/words transliterated from other languages (e.g. Arabic, Hindi); consistent usage of diacritic marks. In transliteration of Arabic, we tend to use a vertical prime ( ‘ ) for both hamza and ain, since many authors don’t know the difference and often get it wrong.
  • Please use English forms of spelling, not US - except, of course, in quotations from US sources, titles of US institutions, etc.
  • We prefer 'z' endings in such words as organization, realize, etc. and the inclusion of 'e' in such words as judgement (except when it is referring to a court’s formal ruling), acknowledgement, etc.


  • These are to be placed at the end of each chapter. They are to be numbered consecutively (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., not 1, 2, 2a, 2b, 3, 4, 4a, and so on). Each number in the text is to refer to one note/reference only.
  • The Harvard system (i.e. author's surname, year of publication and page number(s) placed in text within parentheses) is preferable (see information on Bibliography) but must be used consistently throughout the manuscript. Ibid should never be used in this system.
  • Use ibid. only for consecutive notes indicating the same source;
  • ibid. cannot be used if preceding note consists of more than one reference.

Acknowledging Quotations from Secondary Sources

  • Please ensure that quotations from secondary sources are clearly indicated in quotation marks and the source fully acknowledged. It is not always appreciated by all writers that to begin a paragraph/section with 'As x says...' followed by a lengthy word-for-word or superficially paraphrased extract from another author's already published work or unpublished thesis, conference or seminar paper, etc. without full acknowledgement can constitute plagiarism. Similarly, to structure a chapter or argument on the same lines as another author can also constitute plagiarism.
  • Lengthy quotations may need permission from the author or publisher; it is the author's responsibility to request such permission.
  • Should the author and Zed Books as publishers incur serious legal problems, both the reputation of author and publisher would suffer permanent damage. (See Clause 5(1) of your Contract, especially Paragraph f)


  • All material referred to in text/notes, whether published or unpublished, must be included in the bibliography.
  • Entries must be listed alphabetically by authors' surnames, followed by initial(s), date of publication (or equivalent for unpublished matter) in parentheses, full title, publisher, place of publication.
  • For articles in journals, the title of the article is to be in single quotation marks.
  • Samples of books, journals and documents in bibliography:
  • Black, G. (1984) Garrison Guatemala, Zed Books, London. (Book)
  • Coolen, M.T. (1983) 'The Wolof Xalam Tradition of the Senegambia', Ethnomusicology, Vol. XXVII, No. 3, September. (Article in journal)
  • Kishwar, M. & R. Vanita (eds) (1984) In Search of Answers, Zed Books, London. (Book with two editors)
  • Sherman, T. (1972) 'The Politics of Music in a Polynesian Village', Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Papua New Guinea. (Thesis)
  • Government and other official documents are to be identified by archive or file number and dates; if numerous, they are to be subsumed under each main office:
  • For example: British Colonial Office
  • French Colonial Office
  • India Office Archives
  • Entries are to be either in date order or sequentially by archive/file reference number. If any other arrangement is used, this must be clearly explained.
  • Newspapers: Newspaper name and date only listed.
  • For example, Guardian, 12 October 1992.
  • If a particular article/news item is referred to, use the same style as journal articles (see Bibliography, item 3 above).


  • If numerous abbreviations are used, a separate list should be included with the manuscript and on disk. In the text, the name of the organization, etc. should be given in full, with the abbreviation in parentheses, following a first mention; for example, United Nations (UN), with abbreviation used thereafter.

Please note that acronyms pronounced as words (e.g. UNESCO) should be kept in upper case letters.

  • No full point for: Mr Mrs Dr St Ltd

between upper case initials:


A full point for : Vol.; No.; p.; pp.; ibid.; e.g.; i.e.


  • It is especially important to punctuate carefully to ensure clarity; incorrect or inadequate punctuation can produce ambiguities and distort, even reverse, the meaning of a sentence.
  • Please use parentheses sparingly; do not use parentheses ( ) when square brackets [ ] are required. For example, an interpolation of your own in a quotation needs square brackets. Do not overuse quote marks; for example, to indicate scepticism.
  • Try to avoid overuse of dashes (indicating an interpolation). Distinguish carefully between dashes (—) and hyphens (-).
  • Avoid overusing italics, bold or underlining for emphasis.


  • Use initial upper case letters only where essential. It is impossible to cover all cases but here are some common examples:
    the state Kaduna State; the State of Memphis
    the village church the Roman Catholic Church; Church of Scotland
    the local party; the Socialist Party government; the Tory Government British colonialist; Colonial Office the south wind; Southern Africa the mountains in the west; Western imperialism the emperor's new clothes; Emperor Akihito


  • It is not possible to give complete information regarding when and when not to hyphenate words. Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers, Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors and the Oxford English Dictionary are all useful guides. Generally, use hyphens when a pair of words are used adjectivally, but only when the meaning is ambiguous otherwise; for example:

the military-oriented policy
the little-known area
the ill-starred minister
pro-Nigerian policy
Do not hyphenate: no one; per cent; in spite of; on to.

Numbers and Dates

  • Numbers: from one to twelve: spelt out
    13 and above: figures (25; 179)
    commas between thousands (3,500; 30,000; 300,500)
    round numbers: spelt out (one million; eleven million)
    millions and above: figures (5,420,000)
    Sentences may not start with figures; they must be spelt out or the sentence turned around.

  • Dates: 20 January 1981 (no commas) avoid 12.5.82 date format: in UK, this means 12 May 1982; in US, 5 December 1982
    nineteenth century
    mid-nineteenth century
    In the 1920s (not '20s or 1920's)


  • The titles of all published books, periodicals, names of ships, non-English words and phrases should be italicized.
  • Television and radio programmes, titles of articles in journals/edited volumes and chapter titles should be in roman letters in single quotation marks.
  • Italics for emphasis should be used very sparingly, if at all.

Tables and Other Tabulated Material

  • All tables should be numbered within a chapter and prefixed by the chapter number.
    For example: 1.1.; 1.2; 2.1; 2.2; 3.1; 3.2; 3.3 etc.
    Indicate the source at the end of the table, indicated by: Source
  • Also provide the source reference in full on each occasion; do not use ibid.
  • Tables should either be typed within the text or, if on a separate sheet, the approximate place where they are to appear clearly marked.
  • For example: 'Table 5.4. about here'
  • When referring to tables in the text, use the Table number ('see Table 2.3') rather than 'see above/below' as it may not be possible for the typesetter to place the table at that precise point.

Figures/Graphs/Maps etc.

  • Figures and graphs should be numbered in the same style as tables. For example: Figure 1.1; 1.2; 2.1; 2.2 etc. (do not abbreviate to Fig.)
  • Artwork for graphs, barcharts, etc., should be supplied by the author. Please supply the spreadsheet data from which the graph/chart is generated – e.g. as an excel file as well as a hard copy of what you expect it to look like. This enables us to redraw the graph.chart inexpensively.
  • Unless there are numerous maps, these should be numbered sequentially through the text, with a caption identifying the country/area. The author should indicate where the maps are to be placed and ensure that place names are in English. Please bear in mind if downloading from the internet that the map is usually for A4 size and is no good for a book. There should not be too much detail and the map should be as simple as possible so that we can redraw. If drawing the map yourself, please supply in native format and not as a PDF.

Photographs and Other Illustrative Materials

  • Regarding the inclusion of photographs. This can be by agreement with Zed Books. We will exercise discretion regarding the number of photographs to be included and their technical suitability for reproduction. It is uncommon for Zed to include photographs in its books.
  • It is the author's responsibility to supply any photographs or other illustrative materials where required, to obtain permission for reproduction and to pay the photographer/illustrator if need be.
  • All photographs should be numbered on the reverse and accompanied by a numbered list of short captions. The approximate placing of photographs in the text should be indicated and a list of acknowledgements supplied.
  • Photographs will be returned to the author on request.

Transliteration and Diacriticals

In cases where transliteration has taken place from languages such as Arabic, Persian and Turkish, the author is responsible for making sure that the method of transliteration is correct and consistently applied.

Copy-Edited Manuscript

After acceptance for publication, your manuscript will customarily then be copy-edited. On completion, you will receive a set of proofs together with a list of the copy-editor's queries, or if there are a lot of queries, these will be sent before the proofs are output and the answers incorporated into the proofs. Please read the proofs carefully, as any alterations, additions, deletions, etc. must be made at this stage (see paragraph on Proofing below) and return to your project manager immediately so that production of your book may proceed.


  • While we will have one set of proofs of your book read against the original copy, it is extremely important that you check your set of proofs carefully, paying particular attention to the spelling of unfamiliar or non-English words, proper names, placing of accents, etc. and checking that tables, figures and quotations are accurate. Please return proofs immediately once you have checked them over. Photographs and other illustrative materials will not necessarily be included in the proofs but requisite spaces will be left and marked for the inclusion at the final stages.
  • One or two very minor alterations at proof stage may be acceptable at the publisher's discretion, on condition that no repagination or resetting will be needed. Such minor alterations should be marked in a different coloured ink to that used for marking typographical errors.(See Clause 2 (7) of your Contract)
  • In edited volumes, the editor is responsible for sending out proofs to the contributors and if necessary making his/her own check of the contributors’ chapters before ensuring the whole book is returned to Zed once all the proofs are read.

PDF files can be sent with or instead of proofs


  • If it is not possible for the author to prepare his/her own index, Zed will arrange for this to be done by a professional indexer; the cost of this will be deducted from royalties.
  • Preferably, the index should be prepared by the author or indexer at page proof stage. Guidelines are available from Zed Books if required. M.D. Anderson's Book Indexing is useful, as is a careful examination of indexes in published works. Please consult your editor at Zed before preparing an index.

Preparing a computer disk

General Guidelines

  • All disks that we receive must be accompanied by a corresponding double-spaced print-out. It is absolutely vital that the hard copy represents the latest version of the disk and that no subsequent editing of the disk has taken place. On some occasions, books have to be completely reset at considerable expense because an author has substantially altered the disk files after submitting an earlier version of a print-out for editing.
  • The work should be presented as one file per chapter rather than as one big file. It is helpful if the files on your disk(s) are given simple and logical names that indicate to anyone what they contain. For example, call Chapter 1, Chap1.doc or the Index, Index.doc, and so on. Please avoid using abbreviations that may be confusing to everyone but the author.
  • Please suppy the files on CD, floppy or zipdisk . If on a CD, please ensure that the CD can be read by both Mac and PC. If on a floppy, make sure it’s a new disk; used ones tend to fail.
  • Zed will accept manuscripts on disk that have been written using the following word-processing software: Microsoft Word
    Rich Text Format
    Appropriate conversion of any PC-compatible software for the use of the typesetter will be free of charge but any other conversion might incur costs to be borne by the author.

  • If your manuscript includes graphics, please do not submit these embedded in the text. Graphic files should be submitted seperately and named as they are in the text e.g. fig4.1, fig 4.2, etc. Embedded graphics often make a file difficult to handle for our typesetters. Also, remember that graphics formatted for an A4 page are not ideal for book publication. We would prefer all graphics sized to 100 mm width.

  • Editors of collections should try to ensure that one editing and formating style is used throughout, and that all contributors abide by these guidelines as much as possible


1 Footnotes can become a problem when they have been converted from one software program to another. Notes in Zed books usually appear at the end of a chapter and not at the foot of the page, i.e. as endnotes. If this is not possible, then please provide a separate disk containing the footnotes alone for each chapter, remembering to provide a separate print-out of these footnotes as well. Check that notes are numbered in Arabic, not Roman, numerals. The notes should be doublespaced like the text.


1 Disks can become corrupt during transit, especially if they are inspected by customs using X-ray or magnetic devices. If possible, use specially designed disk packaging which will offer some protection against such problems. Otherwise, cardboard and a heavy Jiffy-style envelope should prove sufficient. Using good quality disks (HD, rather than DD) will also decrease the likelihood of corruption.


Please remember to keep at least one up-to-date copy of the disk with you. This may seem obvious, but it has happened that the only up-dated disk version of a manuscript has been sent to us, while an older and out-of-date version was retained by the author.

The Publishing Process

This provides a brief outline of the stages which a book goes through from acceptance to publication at Zed.


Once your book has been discussed at a Zed Publishing Meeting, and approved for publication, your Commissioning Editor will discuss any of the points raised at the meeting with you, and finalise details like the submission date and the wording of the title. Once this has been agreed, your Editor will email you a Draft Contract. This states:

the details of the book and the submission date,

what is your responsibility and what is Zed’s responsibility,

the rights arrangement

the financial arrangements.

Please take the time to read through all the clauses in this carefully, and do contact your editor to discuss anything which you may be unsure about.

Once you and your editor have discussed and agreed the draft contract, the editor will print out hard copies of the Final Contract. They will sign these, along with one of our company directors, and will send them out to you for your signature. Please check through this and sign all the copies you are sent. Keep one for your own records, and return the other to Zed for ours. Please do this as soon as possible, as it is only when the signed contract is received by Zed that it is officially put on our list of forthcoming publications.

Author Questionnaire

Once the signed contract is received, your Editor will process it on our database. They will then send you a copy of our Author Questionnaire. This asks for confirmation and details of:

Contact Information

Biographical Information

Information about the Book

Marketing Suggestions

It’s very helpful to Editorial and Marketing if you can complete this and return it, preferably by email to your Editor, as soon as possible.


Between the signature of the contract and the submission date, your Editor will be in touch periodically to check that things are going well. If you have any questions, or if any problems arise, your Editor will be delighted to hear from you at any time.

As you write, please make sure that you are preparing the manuscript along the lines stated in Zed’s Manuscript Guidelines. It’s especially important to be aware that any long quotations, tables, figures and photographs may require copyright permission from the original publisher. For more information on this, please see our Copyright Guidelines.

Since Zed schedules its production process and publication programme a year in advance, it’s vitally important that you submit the manuscript by the date on your contract. If, for any reason, you think you won’t be able to submit a complete draft of the manuscript on time, you must let your Editor know as soon as you can. Similarly, if you foresee changes to the length of the book, its title or its content, it’s also important that you let your Editor know.


When you submit the manuscript, please send it to them as an email attachment.

When your Editor receives the manuscript, they will read through it carefully. Based on their assessment of the potential market for the book, and its subject matter, they may also decide to send it out to external readers. They will let you know if they does this, and will provide you with a timescale by when you can reasonably expect to receive the external readers’ comments. This is usually between 6-8 weeks, but varies depending on the availability of readers at any given time.

Based on their own thoughts, along with possible external feedback, your Editor may then go back to you with suggestions for revisions. These may involve changing the text, either in a minor way, or quite substantively. It may also involve technical changes to the presentation of the manuscript. Your editor will be more than happy to discuss these changes in detail with you, and it’s important to Zed that you are happy with them too. You will then agree a timescale for submission of the final manuscript.

Handover to Production

Once you have submitted the final manuscript, your Editor will check through it before handing it over to our production department. This process involves preparing a document detailing the book’s content, and how we would like it to be produced, and finalising things like the blurb, so your Editor may well get in touch with you during this time to check details.

When your Editor passes the manuscript to our production department, they will let you know.


When our Production Manager receives your manuscript, they will also check through it, along with the editor’s notes, and will send it to one of our outhouse Production Teams. They will oversee the book’s progress, in conjunction with our inhouse production department.

The teams will either copy-edit the manuscript themselves, or arrange for this to be done by a freelance copy-editor. Copy-editing involves your manuscript being checked for grammar, syntax and mistakes. As part of this, the copy-editor may suggest structural changes or rephrasing particular part of the text. He or she may also pick up on factual problems with the manuscript or with the references. This normally takes around a month.

When this is complete, the copy-editor will send the copy-edited manuscript to you, along with a list of queries. You should respond to these queries within the time limit given to you by the copy-editor, as this is important for ensuring that the production schedule remains on track.

After the copy-edited manuscript is finalised, it will be typeset, the way it will eventually appear on the page. Again, this may be done by one of our outhouse Teams, or by a freelance typesetter. Once this has been done, the typeset proofs will be sent to you to proofread. It is also very important that you meet the deadline for this given to you by your Team, and return the proofs in good time. Please bear in mind that it can be very expensive to make extensive changes to proofs. At the same time, your Team will also arrange for a professional freelance proofreader to check the proofs.

At this stage, the index should also be prepared. You can either do this yourself, or Zed can arrange for it to be done by a freelance professional indexer. Just let your team know which you would prefer. Once the proofs have been corrected, the details of the book’s cover will be finalised (this is explained in more detail in the section in Marketing). The electronic files for the book will then be sent to the printer. Zed uses a variety of printers in different locations and will choose the one most appropriate for your book. The book will be printed, and sent to our warehouse. Advance copies will also be sent to our Production Director to check. When these copies have been approved, the book will be released from the warehouse. Your Editor will let you know when this happens and will arrange for your complimentary copies to be sent out as promptly as possible. Generally, the production process, from the production department’s receipt of the final manuscript to publication takes around seven months, although this varies depending on the individual nature of each book.


When your Editor hands your book over to our production department, they will also alert our Marketing Team. This will prompt them to send you a Promotion Questionnaire. This asks for information on:

Academic courses on which the book could be used
Potential sources of reviews
Conferences at which Zed should promote the book
People who should be sent promotional complimentary copies
The more information you can provide on this form, the more successfully Zed should be able to market your book.

Once this form has been received, our Marketing Team will get in touch to let you know how the book will be promoted. Your co-operation in doing this is vital, as it can make a real difference to a book’s profile and sales.

When your Editor hands the book over, they will contact you for your suggestions regarding who we might approach to provide a few words of commendation, which we could use on the jacket and on promotional material. Either you or your Editor may contact these people, and your editor will arrange for copies of the manuscript or proofs to be sent out, and will collate these comments when they come it.

If, following publication, you have any queries as to how your book is doing; please contact our Marketing Team, who will be more than happy to update you.

General Information

Copyright is the legal term for who holds rights to a publication. Copyright laws exist to ensure that both the author and the publisher of a book maintain the right to benefit from its publication. Books remain in copyright until 70 years after the death of their author. After that they enter the public domain.

When you sign a contract to publish your book with Zed, you retain the legal and moral right to be identified as the author of the work. You grant Zed the rights to print the book, as a hard copy and electronically, and to license it. The contract itself details this much more fully.

Copyright Issues

When you are preparing your manuscript, it’s really important to remember that any second material you include may itself be copyright. As you write, it’s a good idea to keep a note of any secondary material you are using, and whether or not, based on the information below, you think it will require permission.

Because permissions can be costly, and contractually you are obliged to pay these costs, it’s important to try to limit them as you work on the book. Before you sign the contract, you should set a realistic limit to the number of figures and tables which you will include in the final manuscript, and agree this with your Editor.

Fair Dealing

Generally, it’s always best to assume that secondary material will need permission. Some things, however, are classified under the heading ‘fair dealing’ which means you may be able to reproduce them without charge or permission. The main condition of fair dealing is whether or not a piece is used ‘for the purposes of criticism and review or reporting current events’. This translates as meaning that you may quote material, with proper acknowledgement, if you refer to it in detail within your manuscript. Only a certain amount of material falls under the limits of fair dealing, however. The Society of Authors has previously stated that it would usually regard as ‘fair dealing’ quoting

  • No more than 400 words of a single extract from one book
  • No more than 50 words of a single extract from one article
  • No more than 800 words of cumulative extracts from one work
  • No more than 40 lines of a poem, provided this does not exceed one quarter of the poem’s length

without previously asking the original publisher for permission. However, it should be noted that these guidelines do not have the force of law.

There are several very important exceptions to fair dealing, however. Things which are never permitted under fair dealing include:

  • Any quotation - prose or poetry - used as an epigraph.
  • Photographs
  • Tables
  • Figures
  • Drawings
  • Film or TV stills
  • Screenshots from the internet

Copyright issues are rarely black and white, and are more often a variety of shades of grey. If you are in any doubt, please check with your Editor, who will be happy to advise you.

Applying for Permission

Once you have identified which secondary material requires permission, you need to apply to the original publisher.

Many publishers, especially the larger ones, have online forms, which you can submit electronically. Otherwise, your Editor will be able to supply you with a template letter which you can use to write to or email the appropriate department of the publisher. Standard information which all publishers tend to require includes:

  • The title of the book/journal article you want to quote/reproduce material from
  • The author of the book/journal article
  • The date of publication
  • A page reference
  • The title of your book/article
  • Who the author is
  • Who the publisher is
  • When the book will be published
  • Print Runs (your Editor can supply this information)
  • Prices (your Editor can supply this information)
  • Which rights you are requesting (your Editor will be able to help with this)

Please remember that applying for permission can take many weeks, so it’s important to make the first approach well in advance of publication. For some older or very well-known books, tracing the copyright holder can take some time (it may well not be the current publisher) so it’s also important to be persistent, keep track of which permissions you have applied for and keep your editor well informed. Most publishers charge a permissions fee. This can be anything between £50-£100 for a table or figure, and anything between £50 to £300 for a quotation. When you first apply, it is a good idea to state that your book is a scholarly publication, and that it is important to keep costs down. If you feel you are being charged too much, it is perfectly acceptable to haggle a little.

When you receive permission, you must keep a copy of the letter granting it, and pass a copy to your Editor. Publishers frequently request that you acknowledge their publication in a specific way, and if they do, please inform your editor about this, as it will have to be incorporated into the text of the book.