Overview of This Program
[Note: audio and video versions of this content appear below -- just scroll down if you'd prefer to listen or watch versus reading]
Welcome to the Book Proposal Shortcut for Busy Scholars!
I'm guessing you're here because you would like to publish a book. You know that you need to write and submit a book proposal in order to get closer to that goal, but you may not know where to start. Or you may have started on a proposal but found yourself stuck, due to lack of knowledge, motivation, or confidence.
Book proposals are weirdly mysterious documents. Everyone has to write one in order to get a book published, but there are few opportunities to see one unless you work in publishing yourself. Even if you're able to find examples to emulate, you might feel adrift because you don't understand exactly what the purpose of the proposal is or who's going to be reading it with what expectations. You're willing to do the work, but you want to be sure you're doing the right work to get you closer to your goal.
On top of that, you probably have a million other things on your plate. You may have classes to teach, research to conduct, service to perform, a family to support, and other life stuff that pulls you away from figuring out what a book proposal is supposed to look like, let alone having the time to sit and write it.
Enter the Book Proposal Shortcut for Busy Scholars. My aim here is to quickly bring you up to speed on scholarly publishing and the role of the book proposal within it and to give you the structure you need to produce an outstanding proposal efficiently and effectively.
This program breaks up the process of crafting a scholarly book proposal into 12 modules. The modules are short and sweet—they're meant to give you the essential knowledge you need along with practical instructions on how to write the components you need to write.
In each module I also share some bonus tips on how to make each part of your proposal stand out from the crowd. I've helped hundreds of scholars with their book proposals, so I know the frequent sticking points where people undercut their own chances of success. You'll learn all the little tweaks that will make you feel ultra confident that editors will view your proposal as professional and polished.
You can sprint through the modules and complete a prospectus in a couple of weeks. Or you can dip in for one module at a time over the course of a semester or summer. The program is self-paced and non-interactive, so you have total freedom to work through it on your own timeline.
You will complete the program with a prospectus draft that you can feel good about discussing with acquisitions editors at your dream presses (Module 1 of the program will help you figure out which presses those are if you don't know yet). The proposal submission is just the first step in the process of getting your book published, but it's a necessary step and this Shortcut will get you fully ready to take it.
What this program is and is not
I've called this program a Shortcut very intentionally. My purpose here is to get you to your end goal—a stellar, submittable proposal—as efficiently as possible. That doesn't mean cutting corners; I will tell you everything that you need to know to get there. I will just save you some time and labor you might otherwise spend on tangents and missteps.
This purpose for the Shortcut means that I've been selective in deciding what information to include inside the modules. I've used my experience and expertise to filter the "need to know" from the "helpful but maybe not absolutely necessary to know" facts about the scholarly publishing context.
If you're looking for all of that extra contextual stuff, you can find it in The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors. I strongly recommend getting a copy of that book to use as an accompanying text for this program, because you may have specific questions or aspects of your particular situation that are addressed there (but not here). However, you don't have to read that book in order to successfully complete the Shortcut and produce a winning proposal.
What the Shortcut has that The Book Proposal Book doesn't is the built-in structure to keep you motivated and actually complete all the steps. The Shortcut also includes the material in audio form, if you prefer to take in the information that way and maybe even multitask while you do it.
This program is also distinct from my Book Proposal Accelerator. The key differences are that the Shortcut is self-paced and non-interactive (with the exception of the Questions Thread in the Resources module). I'm only able to offer the Accelerator a couple times a year and I have to limit enrollment numbers in that program. It involves sharing work with the group, daily feedback, and weekly live Q&A sessions. These are all great things and work fabulously for some people's needs. On the other hand, some people prefer to work alone, don't want feedback, and don't need another Zoom appointment to show up to or feel guilty about missing. The Shortcut can be accessed any time and there's no pressure to complete the modules by a particular date.
The Shortcut is also not a writing group, coaching program, or membership site. I would love for you to find others who are using the program to craft their proposals and partner up for accountability and feedback, but this isn't something I facilitate within the program itself. You will be invited to periodic live Q&A calls, which are essentially office hours where you can ask me about specific issues and receive guidance on the parts of the publishing process that happen post-submission. You may be able to meet and connect with other participants on those Zoom calls, but that's not their primary purpose.
Ready to get started?
A well-conceived proposal is so much more than a project summary or a sales pitch. It can serve as a map for you as you write and revise your book, expediting those processes as well. An outstanding proposal also gives you more power as an author. Knowing what your book is, who it's for, and why it matters (all of which the Shortcut will help you get clarity on and communicate in your proposal) will help you take control in your search for a publisher. It won't be about going with anyone who'll have you; it'll be about finding the right partner who can help you achieve your vision. You may even identify several potential homes for your book and find yourself in the position of fielding interest from multiple publishers.
I can't guarantee you a publishing contract, because many factors go into publication decisions and some of those factors are beyond your control and mine. I can promise that you will feel more informed about this path you're about to embark on and more prepared to face the challenges that will come up along the way.
Ready? Let's go.