Many academics want to publish a book. Or are told they have to publish books in order to advance their careers.
Yet the academy provides virtually no formal training on how to get a book published.
It feels as if there's a lot riding on your proposal and the impression you make on publishers, and yet for some reason you're just supposed to guess about the right things to do and hope something sticks??
You ask colleagues to see their book proposals, you ask for tips on social media. It simultaneously feels as if everyone knows more than you do and no one quite knows what they're talking about.
You search the internet for advice but you're still unsure that you're on the right track.
I developed the Book Proposal Accelerator to teach scholars exactly how the process of getting a book published works and exactly what's expected of authors in that process.
I wanted to provide a space to reduce uncertainty about what editors are looking for and reduce the stress that comes from trying to navigate opaque communication norms.
And I wanted to serve as a reliable resource for honest answers and empathetic feedback because I know how hard it can be to ask for help from friends, colleagues, and mentors who are as overburdened as you are.
The Accelerator is an online program that guides academic authors step by step through the process of crafting a scholarly book proposal and pitching it to publishers.
You show up with a book manuscript or even just a book idea, and you leave with an outstanding book proposal, a list of best-fit presses, and a submission strategy personalized to your goals and timeline.
The name of the program is a loose reference to the concept of a tech accelerator that provides mentorship and a cohort of peers in order to help individuals develop a viable final product.
It's also about breaking the trial-and-error cycle and "accelerating" your book proposal development process so that, in the space of a few weeks, you can finish a presentable, professional draft that you feel confident talking to acquiring editors about.
The program is designed to support you in completing a proposal between January 8th and February 16th, 2024.
Life happens, though, so you will have the option to extend your feedback period beyond the end of the program if needed.
More than 500 scholars have completed the Book Proposal Accelerator to date. They've landed contracts with competitive presses such as Oxford UP, Princeton UP, University of California Press, Duke UP, MIT Press, and more.
On January 8th, 2024, you'll get access to a library of worksheets and sample proposals, along with a series of modules to guide you through drafting and polishing all the elements of your book proposal.
Comment threads in the course platform will enable you to ask questions in real time as you work.
You will also be able to share your work for feedback from me (Laura Portwood-Stacer). There's no pressure to share your work for feedback if you'd prefer not to, though you will get the most value out of the program if you do.
There is no group-work involved and no obligation to respond to others within the cohort. However, you will be welcome to connect with others if you'd like to exchange drafts privately, form writing groups, or discuss your submission strategies among yourselves.
We will have live Q&A sessions via Zoom where you can ask any questions you may have about proposals or the scholarly book publishing process. All sessions are optional to attend and recordings will be made available to everyone, regardless of live attendance.
The live sessions will be held on the following dates at 10am Pacific (1pm Eastern, 6pm GMT):
- Friday, January 19, 2024
- Friday, January 26, 2024
- Friday, February 2, 2024
- Friday, February 9, 2024
- Friday, February 16, 2024
During the first week of the program, January 8–12, we will have daily coworking sessions followed by Q&A. These sessions will be held from 9–11am Pacific (12-2pm Eastern, 5–7pm GMT)
Live attendance is always optional, since participants come from varying time zones, have other work and personal obligations, etc. I will always be accessible to answer direct questions in the online platform throughout the program if you can’t attend the live sessions. Transcripts and recordings of the Q&A sessions will be provided to all.
You will also be able to ask questions and receive advice on the ensuing stages of the publishing process, including navigating peer review, fielding offers and negotiating contracts, and working with your publisher.
If the informational aspect of the Accelerator appeals to you but you aren't looking for feedback or cohort-style support, you may want to check out my Book Proposal Shortcut for Busy Scholars. The core material is the same, but that program is fully independent and does not include opportunities to receive feedback on your work.
I'm a professional editor and publishing consultant and the author of The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors (Princeton University Press, 2021).
I've helped hundreds of academic writers navigate the proposal writing and book publishing processes, with clients landing contracts at competitive university presses such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of California, University of Chicago, MIT, Duke, Oxford, Cambridge, and many more.
As an author of two books myself (with a third under contract), I know how difficult the process can be, on both practical and emotional levels. I aim to bring empathy and honesty to demystifying the norms of scholarly publishing so that everyone who goes through my programs leaves feeling energized and empowered to make their publishing goals happen.
To learn more about me and the other programs I offer, check out ManuscriptWorks.com.
"The most valuable professional development experience I've done in my academic career"
"Turn a good idea into a winning proposal"
"I not only have a first draft of the proposal, but also a much better idea of where I would like to go with my book"
"Laura's insights and guidance made all the difference"
"The anxiety is gone"
"Really helps you envision your project as a real book"
"Pushed me to think deeply about a book I haven't even written yet!"
"Gave me the structure and motivation I needed"
"Well worth every dollar"
"A safe online learning space where folks from all different levels of experience could learn from one another"
The Book Proposal Accelerator is for scholarly authors who are ready to do the work of writing a book proposal—and want to be sure they're doing the right work.
First-time authors and authors with multiple books on their CVs will find the Accelerator's structure useful in expediting the proposal writing process.
The nuts-and-bolts advice and step-by-step format will appeal to practical-minded writers who don't want to spend time overthinking.
The ongoing support from January 8th through February 16th is designed for writers seeking partnership, encouragement, and strategic perspective during the publishing process, which can often feel confusing and isolating.
Participants do not need to have a full manuscript written in order to write a proposal using the Accelerator. You can even start with just a book idea and use the program to map out the manuscript for yourself and get feedback at an early stage.
The Accelerator was specifically created to support authors with advanced academic training (i.e. a PhD) who are writing for an audience of other scholars and hope to publish with a scholarly press. Other great resources exist to support those who are writing for nonscholarly audiences and publishers.
The Accelerator is not intended for scholars who are still completing a dissertation. The information may be illuminating for dissertation writers but you will see better results if you let your diss rest for a while before trying to pitch it as a book.
The Accelerator is designed for scholars who are working on a single book project. You are welcome to apply the lessons to multiple proposals on your own, but I only have capacity to provide direct feedback on one project per person.
If you have any questions about whether the Accelerator is a good fit for you and your project, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]!
No refunds or postponements will be offered, so please ensure that the Accelerator is right for you before enrolling. I am always open to questions and will answer honestly if I don't think the program is a good fit for you. I want all participants to get as much value out of this program as possible because I know that it is a significant investment.
General enrollment for the Book Proposal Accelerator will open on January 1, 2024, at 10am Pacific (1pm Eastern, 5pm GMT) and remain open until the program fills to capacity. Check back here for the checkout links on January 1st.
Those who have institutional funding support can enroll with the standard $1800 pricing option. Choose this option if you will be enrolling yourself using a departmental purchasing card, having department staff enroll you using a purchasing card, or paying out of pocket and then receiving reimbursement from your institution.
Those who will be paying for the program out of pocket with no institutional funding support of any kind may choose the discounted rate of $1200.
Enrollees selecting the $1800 or $1200 pricing options on or after January 1st will be given the opportunity to upgrade to an extended feedback period (through March 31, 2024) for an additional $300. If you aren't sure whether you will want the extension, you can wait and opt into it later on.
Pre-enrollment before January 1st is available to those who need to arrange direct payment by their institution via check or direct deposit. The fee for pre-enrollment is $2100 and covers your enrollment in the 6-week program and extended feedback through March 31, 2024. If you need to pre-enroll, email me at [email protected] as soon as possible to get the necessary paperwork started. Your enrollment will not be complete until full payment is received, so please plan ahead.