How to write a prose proposal for The Emma Press

If you’re feeling a little lost in putting together a prose proposal for your submission to The Emma Press open call, feel free to use the below template! Poetry proposals are more straightforward, but you can adapt the below template for poetry if you like too.

Your Working Title


  • What is your book about?
  • Is there a general theme or topic? If not, what is the organising principle of your collection?
  • How would you describe your prose style?
  • What are you trying to achieve with this book?
  • Who is your target audience? 
  • How many words will your book have, approximately?
    • Remember, our children’s fiction books contain around 24,000 words
    • Our adult prose titles (both essays and fiction) are between 15-20,000 words. 

Chapter Outline

You should have at least three essays or chapters finished to submit with your proposal.

For the rest of the collection, we hope you have a sense of the content of each essay or how will help contribute to the overall mood and purpose.

Considering the word count, how many pieces do you anticipate including in the collection? 

Summarise essays in paragraphs that list:

  • Working titles
  • Approximate word count
  • Your thoughts on the content of each piece.
  • If you are writing essays that include interviews, give a sense of who your subjects would be and why. Same with objects, locations, other writers you might be meditating on. How does your consideration of this subject contribute to your overall purpose for the collection? Are these subjects accessible to you?
  • Notes on your rhetorical techniques and thoughts on the form and style of the essays. 
  • If your essay has appeared elsewhere, consider if you have permission to republish it, and why it is of use within this collection.

For both adult and children’s fiction, if you aren’t sure you can describe what your stories will be, think of a way to communicate the mood to us. 

  • Tell us if your stories are usually shorter or longer in length
  • Tell us if you know the kernels of the stories or what they will be trying to do
  • The best way you can show us what you want to do is to include writing samples written for this project

It can be harder to plot out a collection of stories that is not yet written than a collection of essays, so just do your best.


  • Don’t forget your writing samples!
  • When you submit, you’ll be prompted to fill in a Submittable form. It’s basically just admin, like your name and location. You will also be asked to include the order number from your pay-what-you-can submission ticket. What may take a little more thinking is a brief summary of your collection, which you’ll be asked to provide after you have uploaded your proposal document.

Image from the British Library catalogue in the commons, via Flickr Commons.


Pema is the eCommerce Executive at the Emma Press.
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