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Non-fiction submissions

CDLA is looking for authors who have some or all of the following qualities:

  • Something fresh and original to say.

  • Enthusiasm for communicating their knowledge to a general audience.

  • A talent for slipping in all the necessary background and context that will help the reader.

  • Superior writing ability.

  • Authority in their field through their credentials, expertise, experience and practice.

  • Good navigational skills to orientate the reader through the book.

  • Passionate interest in their subject.

  • Burning curiosity and a searching mind.

  • An aptitude for narrative writing.

  • A desire to help people and solve problems.

  • A critical interest in new ideas, theories and explanations.

  • A wide-ranging and unusual perspective.

  • An ability to handle simplicity and complexity.

  • International sales potential.


Please note that we rarely cover these non-fiction genres:

  • Autobiographies and memoirs

  • Children’s books

  • Conspiracy theories

  • Educational textbooks

  • Occult

  • Ph.D theses

  • Self-help

  • ‘Sob stories’, unfortunate personal experiences, painful lives

  • True crime

  • War stories 


If you would like to submit your work of non-fiction, please send Caroline Davidson the following information:

A. Your covering letter including:


  • The title of your book and what it is about.

  • Why you are writing it, and who is your audience?

  • Your qualifications and expertise in the subject.

  • What is interesting and/or original about your book? If there are others on the same subject, how will yours compare?

  • The impact you hope it will have.

  • The proposed length/word count.

  • If the book is already complete, say who has read your typescript and how they have responded.

  • What is the word count?

B. Your CV


Your full-length CV or résumé, regardless of whether you have writing experience. We would like to know about your career, where you have lived, where you have travelled and your education.


C. Your book proposal, which should ideally include: 

  • The cover page must include the book title, your name, address, phone number and email.

  • A table of contents to the proposal indicating contents.

  • A succinct chapter-by-chapter synopsis of your book. Try to keep your synopsis chapters to a paragraph and do not feel that you have to cram in every detail. Aim to show the organisational structure of the book and how it will be a 'must read' from start to finish. Include vivid and striking examples that bring your synopsis to life. Your object is to produce a lively document that gives a dynamic impression of the completed book.

  • A description of your sources and/or research.

  • An assessment of the readership.

  • A view of the markets for your work, in the English language and in translation.

  • An analysis of the competition, if applicable, and what will make your book stand out. 


If possible, support your proposal with the first two or three chapters of your book, approximately fifty pages or so. Include sample illustrations with captions, if relevant.

How long should your proposal be?

While there is no definitive answer to this question because each proposal comes out at a different number of pages, there is much to be said for brevity - as long as it is convincing. There is no virtue in length. This is often a symptom of the writer being repetitive and wooly.

Formatting Requirements 


  • Use 1.5 spacing.

  • Have wide margins - at least 1 inch on both sides with 1.5 inches top and bottom.

  • Sequential pagination at the bottom of each page. Make it small and pale so as not to distract from reading.

  • Insert your surname, as author, bottom right-hand corner in feint.

  • Indent each new paragraph.

  • Include sub-headings to orient the reader and help them follow the text.

  • Four line-breaks between sections, marked by a central line of asterisks.

  • Use Oxford referencing when citing additional sources.

  • Print single sided.

Choosing a font

Your choice of font for your proposal is all important. Instead of sticking to your old familiar favourite, you need to review the wonderful selection of fonts that are readily available. Your proposal will be enhanced by your discriminating choice of font and it will add extra character to your submission.

Editors and publishers can be intrigued when they have a typescript in a font that they are not already overly familiar with. If in doubt, print out a page of your typescript in different fonts and ask a jury of your friends and family to say which font works best. Having selected your font, use it consistently and do not mix it with others.

Creative touches

Splashes of colour will instantly make your proposal more engaging. 


Make use of coloured text, highlighting, italics, and emboldening where appropriate, although none of these should be overdone.

Consider including graphics or other images, to illuminate and break up the text.

Send your proposal to friends to review for their comments on content and presentation. Ask them to identify any weak spots in your argument or anything they do not understand. You may wish to redraft your proposal on the basis of their comments. 

Please do not submit your work to CDLA if it has already been widely sent to agents and rejected. 

Before sending your submission 

Think hard about whether your work is ready for submission. Some writers submit their writing prematurely without the necessary re-drafting, checking, polishing and attention to presentation.

UK writers:

  • Please provide a correctly stamped self-addressed envelope or jiffy bag.

  • Please note, we only reply by post and never by email.


Overseas writers:

  • We shall not return sample material. It is unfortunately too complicated to do so.

  • If we are interested in your submission we shall let you know by email within three weeks of receipt. You will not hear from us if we decide not to pursue your submission.


We aim to respond to submissions within three weeks of receipt, but this can vary.


If we are unable to help, or offer you representation, we shall not comment on your work. This is because we do not have the time.


Please remember that all submissions must be sent with a stamped self-addressed envelope. We do not reply to submissions without a stamped self-addressed envelope.


CDLA does not accept email submissions.

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