Step 2: Identifying Your Book's Framing

Step 2: Identifying Your Book’s Framing

First-time book authors usually struggle to understand their book’s framing because the nuances can be subtle. But misunderstanding the framing can have serious consequences. It might cause you to unintentionally misrepresent what the book does, in both your proposal and your manuscript. As a result, certain presses (which might be interested in the book you actually write) might overlook your proposal. Others might be interested, but send the book to reviewers who expect to read a different book. You want to be in neither of these situations. 

To avoid these challenges, it’s important to be clear about what is—and, equally, is not—your book’s highest-order focus.

There are two broad book framing types:

  1. Books that are most interested in teaching lessons about their corpus/case studies or their narrow historical and geographical contexts. These lessons might have broader applications beyond these narrow contexts, but the main book-level focus is what can be gleaned from the case studies themselves.
  2. Books that are most interested in making broad claims about processes or phenomena using their evidence. Here, the main focus is on a broader frame.

Here are some claims that books could make, tailored to fit each framing type:

Because these distinctions are often subtle, let’s examine a few examples before you attempt to pin down your own book-level framing. While reading these examples, try to intuitively decide which one sounds most like your book’s framing (despite differences in discipline and topic).

Now it’s your turn to assess your book-level framing. 

Keep in mind that your answer should be your best attempt to pinpoint your book’s framing as you currently understand it. You will continue to assess whether this framing actually matches the book you’re writing as you continue with Phase I.

In many ways, it’s not until you turn to “working IN” your book and get other scholars’ perspectives on it that you will fully understand the subtleties of your book’s framing. But to produce a structurally sound, coherent book, you first need to know, broadly speaking, what your book is doing.


Now take the action underneath the statement that most accurately describes your book.

The main purpose of my book is to make claims about the corpus/evidence I analyze.

Proceed to Step 5.

The main purpose of my book is to make broad claims about processes or phenomena and it just happens to use the corpus/evidence to do so.

Proceed to “Understanding the Alignment between Scope, Claims, and Evidence.”