Writing Resources Center

[GUIDE] Writing chapter abstract for an edited book

By Editorial Staff, Writing Resources Center


Writing chapters for an edited book is one of many types of academic writing. Writing a chapter for an edited book is no less than writing a scholarly paper in terms of quality barring some presentational aspects.

Writing an acceptable abstract is the first step towards getting an invitation to write a full-text chapter by the book's editors. So, it becomes vital to understand how should an abstract be to get the same considered and accepted by the book's editors. No editor will be accepting anything for their book. After all, the content specialty of their book is the primary parameter to judge their editorial credibility, and they wouldn't like to compromise to accept general but specific stuff for their book.

Writing an acceptable abstract is the first step towards getting an invitation to write a full-text chapter by the book's editors.

So, here are some guidelines for writing chapter abstract which would help you get your chapter abstract considered and accepted by the book's editors:

Have a clear mind on the book's scope

Don't get rejected on the very face of it. Before moving ahead to write and sending your chapter abstract, make sure that you have thoroughly understood the book's coverage & scope. By book's coverage & scope, we mean, what are topics and issues on which a chapter can be written. Make yourself specific about the subject domain of the book. An edited book, by its definition, uses to be a compilation of works on a very specific domain. Getting yourself clear about the scope of the book will help you write an abstract capable of getting noticed by the book's editors.

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Be specific over general

Once, you have got the specifics of the subject domain of the book, you can now go ahead writing your abstract. While writing the abstract to be specific and propose a work that is specific to the book's scope. Try to choose a specific topic from within the scope of the book instead of a general one. The book's editors prefer special content over general. Being specific will help you avoid editorial rejection causing you loss of time and effort.

Getting yourself clear about the scope of the book will help you write an abstract capable of getting noticed by the book's editors.

Propose a ‘solution’ not a ‘review’

Editors prefer to consider those abstracts which specifically identify a particular issue and propose to offer it a solution. Your abstract should sound as ‘to advise/to offer’ instead of ‘this is how it is’. ‘To advise/to offer’ is the approach where an author proposes to come out with an empirical solution or something new through the full-text chapter to advance the achievement of the book's objectives fully or partially.

On the other hand, ‘this is how it is’ is nothing but a review of already known facts and figures. Though review works are acceptable in some cases but the authors should avoid making their abstract sounding as a review of already known knowledge or previously published works.

‘To advise/to offer’ is the approach where an author proposes to come out with an empirical solution or something new through the full-text chapter to advance the achievement of the book's objectives fully or partially.

Mind your grammar

An author is expected to write following the rules of grammar. Poor grammar or sentence selection may put the book’s editors off your abstract. The abstracts having poor grammar aren’t considered, sometimes even not acknowledged for their receipt.

Good grammar is another tool making your abstract an acceptable piece which the editors or the publishers love to look at.

Address to book’s editors

Generally, the book abstracts are invited by the book’s editors or sometimes by the book’s publishers on behalf of the editors. In both cases, the author should address the covering mail to the editors of the book. This, though not a strict norm, is another way to showcase your seriousness towards your proposed contribution to the book.

Never email your abstract without covering letter simply as an attachment. There are cases where authors simply attach their abstract and hit the ‘send’ button without caring for writing even the name of the book or series to which the abstract is being submitted. This may create confusion especially when an editor is editing more than one book.

Never email your abstract without covering letter, simply as an attachment. The author should address the covering mail to the editors of the book.

Some dos and don'ts

Follow and adhere to word limits, format and the editorial policies of the book if prescribed.

Ensure that the work being submitted is entirely of your own and you hold all intellectual property rights to the same.

Don’t submit a full-text chapter when you need to submit its abstract only. Submit the full-text when you are invited for the same.

Adhere to the ethical conduct while communicating with the book editors, publisher or the editorial support staff.

If you have questions in mind, you should contact the book’s editors or publisher’s editorial staff for the necessary information before submitting your abstract.

[GUIDE] How to publish an edited book: A guide for book editors, read here

[GUIDE] Intellectual property rights (patents/copyrights) vis-à-vis academic writing, read here


Additional resources (external)

How to Write an Abstract


This guide is brought to you by the Writing Resources Center of CSMFL Publications