Open Call for 33 1/3 Proposals 2015

I am happy to announce the next open call for proposals for the 33 1/3 series.

Proposals are due by Monday, July 27th (7.27.15) at 12:00am EST (that’s midnight). As of today, June 1st, the submission period is open.

Please read the submission guidelines carefully to ensure that your proposal will be considered. This open call is ONLY for those who are 100% positive that if their proposals are selected, they will be able to turn in FINAL manuscripts within 6-12 months of contract. That means the whole book (all 30,000 words of it) will be due between January and August 2016. Missed deadlines will result in cancellation of the contract. There will be other open calls for delivery dates beyond August 2016 within the next 2 years.

If you are ready to go and have the time over the next year to write a full book, please submit your proposal by 12:00am EST on Monday, July 27th, 2015. 

If you are a college or high school student and under the age of 22, please consider submitting to our Under 22 ONLY open call, details can be found here.

Submission Guidelines

If you would like to submit a proposal for a 33 ⅓ volume, please submit ALL of the following to before 12:00am EST on July 27th, 2015. No exceptions. The word/page counts below are not exact but should point you in the right direction of what I’m looking for. Submissions that don’t include complete responses to the first 9 requirements below will not be considered.
Submit the content below in one single document as either .doc, .docx or .pdf. No .rtf files will be accepted. Please put your name, album and artist in the subject line of the email.

Proposal requirements:

1. Your professional CV/resume, including full contact details + a short biography (25-50 words).
2. A draft annotated table of contents for the book. This should include chapter titles and a brief 50-500 word summary of each chapter. If you plan on deviating from a chapter structure, please explain why in 500 words.
3. A draft introduction/opening chapter for the book, of around 2,000 words.
4. A concise description of the book (up to 250 words). This needs to be clear, informative and persuasive. It should be suitable for use as the book’s blurb. It should be written so that people who are unfamiliar with the album will understand what this book is about.
5. Your analysis of the most relevant competing books already published (or forthcoming) about the artist in question or the scene surrounding that artist – and how your book will differ. Are there any films or film projects in the works? 200 words or less.
6. At least 500 words about yourself and why you are qualified to write this book. Why are you the best person to do it? How you would help Bloomsbury Academic market your book? Please list websites/forums/listservs you’d contact directly; any artist involvement you might expect; any college-level courses on which you think your book could be used, and so on.
7. Which existing 33 1/3 books or other types of music writing you like or dislike. Why? 500-1000 words.
8. Describe the audience for your book. What are the fans like? Describe your target market. How large is this market? 200 words.
9. Please list the firm date on which you will deliver your complete and final manuscript and why you have chosen this date (Must be between January 2016 and August 2016).
10. Do you have any feedback? How is the series doing so far? What could we do better? Not required.

Upon submission you will receive an auto-reply message and you will be notified by email in 2-4 months if your proposal is selected.

If you have questions please post them as a comment on this post and they will be answered quickly. We are unable to respond to email queries.

Just in case you need a refresher, here are the first 106 books in the series and here are the ones currently contracted to come out in the next 3 years.

The following projects were contracted at some point but for various reasons are now cancelled.The following albums are now fair game:

Daniel Johnston-Hi, How Are You
Kate Bush-The Dreaming
Tori Amos-Boys for Pele
The Clash–London Calling
Wu Tang–Enter the Wu (36 Chambers)
Pulp-This is Hardcore

If you are a member of the press and want to know more about the series or write about it, please visit our contact us page.

I hope the FAQ below will help and please ask additional questions in the comment form below this post.

I would like to preemptively thank all of you for taking the time to think about and draft these proposals. It is an immense joy and honor to read them.
xoxo Ally-Jane


Q: How many proposals can I submit?
A: Only one proposal on one album per person will be accepted.
Q: How much will I be paid for writing a 33 ⅓?
A: Writing a 33 ⅓ will not make you rich. But it will bring you fame, glory and bragging rights. We are able to offer a small advance and a 10% royalty rate on each contract.
Q: My computer crashed at 2am last night and I lost everything, I’ve been putting the proposal back together but I’m not going to make it by 12:00am, can I have just 1 extra hour?
A: No. Please back up your work. In order for this process to work, it has to be fair for everyone.  Not a single proposal will be considered after 12:00am EST on July 27th.
Q: Do you have examples of successful pitches to share?
A: Yes, in our new textbook How To Write About Music there is a chapter titled “How To Pitch a 33 1/3” that is worth reading.
Q: I submitted a proposal last time and it would be really helpful to hear some constructive criticism as to why it was rejected, can you quickly look at it and let me know what I can do better?
A: Very sorry but we just don’t have the time or resources to do that. While we carefully read every single proposal there are a multitude of reasons why many don’t get selected. This is not to discourage you from submitting again, but seriously consider extensive revisions.
Q: There is already a book in the series by the same artist as the one I’m proposing, will you consider two albums by the same artist?
A: Yes. There are two albums by Radiohead, two by the Beach Boys and two by The Rolling Stones in the series already.
Q: Why are so many of the books cancelled after they are signed up?
A: Because life gets in the way. There are many reasons some of the accepted proposals never become books. Some of the more common reasons: life change, health problems, artist refuses to cooperate/talk, there isn’t enough to say about the album. To try to circumvent this, 33 1/3 has a new publishing schedule in which contracts will be issued for books due within 12 months.

89 thoughts on “Open Call for 33 1/3 Proposals 2015”

  1. obviously, i’d love to see someone do 33_1/3 books on a whole heap of LP’s that i love…i’m not a writer, was previously a musician…but, will someone please consider the proposal of The Scars ‘Author! Author!’ as a possible project…??? thanks…Ian J.

  2. I had hoped not to wait until the last weekend, but it is now the last weekend. Hopefully, no one else has pitched on My Morning Jacket (or Z in particular) since I queried some weeks back. This proposal is finally coming together.

  3. Kind of a silly question, but since midnight means both the start of a day and the end of another, by midnight on Monday, July 27, do you mean we have all day Monday and it’s due by 11:59 on Monday evening, or at midnight (12:00 a.m.) on Monday, July 27 — meaning it’s really due on Sunday by 11:59?

  4. A point I thought I’d clarify just to be sure: When you say you want “a brief 50-500 word summary of each chapter, does that mean each chapter summary can be 50-500 words, or that you want the summary of the entire book to be 50-500 words?

  5. John R. Palmer

    Do you want everything double- or single-spaced? I have seen different requests from different publishing houses.

  6. A less boring question: I want to pitch a book on a Metallica album. I note you have a book on The Black Album coming out in September. The one I want to pitch isn’t that one and it will likely be a very different sort of book (it will be on St Anger – an album no one likes). I can see from your response to the question about a Jesus and Mary Chain book that you prefer to space out books on different albums by the same artist. The thing is, this is a really good time for me to pitch and then write the book – if I wait another year I might not be able to do it. So, if I pitch now, would you take into consideration the possibility of publishing the book a couple of years after this year’s one on Metallica? Or would I be best advised to hold my fire for now.

  7. Would you consider a 33 1/3 book on a soundtrack that didn’t sell gold in the U.S. or yield any chart hits but has proven to be an influential, genre-changing cult favorite? (I can e-mail you the specific title if that would help)

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  9. From what I can tell there aren’t many recent albums in the book series. Are you open to including albums as recent as the 2000’s ? Or, 2010’s?

    I understand there might be some reluctance to include recent albums because they haven’t stood the test of time as the other albums which are included but I wonder if there are any other general reservations about including recent albums.

  10. Hi and congrats. This is such an amazing series and I just saw the open call, but don’t know if I can have mine ready in a month, so I’m wondering if this happens every year? Open calls to the public people? Thx.

  11. How strict are you with the word limits for the proposals? I understand you’re going to receive a lot of proposals, each rather lengthy, but I am having trouble sticking exactly to some of the limits provided. Is it acceptable for some of my answers to be slightly longer than listed? Is there a certain grace period between which is acceptably over and what is too much?

  12. Last year you received 410 proposals, which meant that there was no way you could give feedback to the large number of those rejected (and this completely reasonable!). As one of the rejected, though, I was left unsure if the whole proposal I had submitted (album, concept, premise) was a total no go, or if the proposal just needed better honing to be a more viable contender. Any thoughts on whether or not it’s worth trying to resubmit such a proposal? Thanks, and keep up the great series.

  13. If I’ve already submitted my proposal and then realise that I’ve submitted an incomplete version of my proposal, is it possible to resubmit the corrected proposal if it arrives before the July 27th deadline?

  14. Assuming the proposals are of similar quality, does a proposal for a more popular album (say, Elvis in Memphis or Tupac, All Eyez on Me) have a better chance of getting approved than one for what you might call a “cult” album (like the Modern Lovers’ self-titled album)? Also, should writers think about addressing gaps in the series? For instance, I notice there is no Stooges album, not much country, less rap, and that certain very popular artists are missing (e.g. Elvis, Tupac, Rush, Van Halen, Kiss, Taylor Swift). Is it even worth worrying about these things or should we just go with our guts? Which type of proposal are the editors most interested in seeing right now (mega-hits, cult items, or gap fillers)?

    1. All very good questions. It’s best to go with your gut because I’m looking for a wide range of albums and approaches. There are obvious gaps indeed but I’m looking for everything. Very popular artists tend to be covered extensively in the music press, in biographies, movies etc. so if you’re going for a more popular album make sure the approach is unique. If you’re going for a “cult” album then there’s much more room for history, analysis, interviews, etc. because it likely hasn’t been said before. I hope that’s helpful and I’m definitely open to a Modern Lovers book.

  15. If we think we have a good chance of reaching a primary source, should we do so before and include the email verification from them in our proposal? Also, is it a good or a bad thing if there is a large body of work already out about the artist? IE would 33 1/3 want to be the primary go-to source for info about that album, or an interesting new voice about a well-known band? Thank you!

    1. Yes, if you have confirmation from the artist go ahead and let me know. We don’t always need to be the go-to source, I’m interested in fresh perspectives and outside the box ideas that would only work for the small 33 1/3 format.

  16. Damn, I see you’ve got a book on Psychocandy coming soon. Looks like all my notes towards a Barbed Wire Kisses book are useless in this context. No chance of two Mary Chain books in the next few years, I take it?

    Good to see the Mary Chain represented anyhow.

  17. Hi, Ally-Jane–
    Thank you for your excellent work on the series!
    My question is, will it be more helpful to you if the chapter summaries in the annotated table of contents are in outline form, or in paragraph form? Also, should I include chapter epigraphs there or leave them out?
    Thank you so much.

  18. How far back in history do you go? Are Billie Holiday, the Staple Singers, and Bessie Smith missing because they’re too old?

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  21. FlowersinMoonlight

    Are you actively seeking woman writers? I noticed a considerable lack… also is there an interest in more proposals about woman-fronted bands…?

      1. Chuck Berry Gordy

        What about two different records that have the same titles and musicians on them, but are credited to two different artists?

  22. Is it required to have direct contact with the band you’re writing about? While it would be unbelievably cool to contact the band I’m thinking of with a ‘Hey, I’m writing a book about your album! Tell me all about it!’, the likelihood of receiving a reply is slim. Thank you!

    1. Nope!!! Artist involvement has made some 33 1/3rds excellent but MANY of them have been written without the artists all together. Cooperation from your artist of choice is 100% unnecessary.

  23. Are you interested at all in someone writing a work of fiction around an album? Rather than a history of the album and how it was recorded.

    1. We’ve done a few works of fiction in the series in the past. I’m not opposed to it, but I wouldn’t encourage it. Unless it’s brilliant.

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  25. How much weight do you give to proposed albums that have other books and/or book chapters outside the series that are about the band? Do published tour diaries from tour members count negatively? Are the quality and success of publications like sweeping band biographies considered? (One of my ideas has a 500 band bio, but the band spans decades and different incarnations — not to mention the book is filled with errors!) What about out of print books or books written around the time of the album that aren’t as music-oriented as the 33 1/3 series? Also thinking about something like “Our Band Can Be Your Life” that gives space to many influential bands, but only covers over-arching band history — how does something like that influence your decisions?

  26. Has the 33 1/3 series ever included something presented in a graphic novel/comic book panel format? If not, would you consider a pitch if appropriate for the subject?

  27. Cory M Linstrum

    I don’t think it’s been done so far… Would you consider a proposal for a 33 1/3 installment written about a compilation album, featuring various artists?

  28. Christopher Pennington

    Can a book in the series be written by two authors? If so, would any modifications to the proposal be necessary or would the personal requirements just need to be replicated for both people?

    1. I’d also like to know more about this! I’m working on a collaborative proposal and was wondering if what you would like us to provide two of (besides the bio and CVs).

    2. I would also be interested in more information on this topic! I am working on a collaborative proposal and was wondering what you would like us to provide two of (besides the bios and CVs). Thanks!

  29. shotofcompassion

    I’d like to ask a question about the CV/Resume. Are you looking for the kind of resume one would use for employment purposes or more of a creative resume? Are we to include non-writing/non-relevant experience? Do you want descriptions and dates of employment? Thanks.

    1. A standard CV will do, one that you might use for employment purposes. Consider that you are basically applying for a job as a writer so include relevant experience.

  30. Marianna Vasileiou

    I am wondering whether people who are not US citizens and live in Europe can submit a proposal. If such a thing is possible, are there any legal parametres that should be taken under consideration?

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  32. I really feel equipped and ready to write a 33 1/3 on a Tori Amos album. However I’m intimately acquainted with her entire catalogue and I’m not sure whether to go with the critics’ favorite (‘Little Earthquakes’), one you’ve already accepted a proposal for (‘Boys For Pele’),or a later album that I think is a perfectly-executed concept, but wasn’t really much of a hit commercially or critically (‘American Doll Posse’.)
    Can I ask oh-so-politely which one you’re most likely to be interested in?

    1. I think the point is to write about the one that’s most important to you! That’s what compels us to read any of the books in this series.

  33. This may sound like a stupid question, but would you be interested in a proposal for a book about a comedy album? I realize that the previous books in the series were all about music, but I feel like there are some comedy albums which are as rich, transcendent, etc. as any rock, pop, R&B, hip hop, whatever album, and it’d be great if there was a book about, say, The Firesign Theater’s “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers.” To name just one album that I think would be great grist for this format. A book with that focus is just DYING to be written by somebody.

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