You want to publish a book, but you're mystified about the steps you need to take.

That's normal. Scholarly book publishing is an opaque process—whether you've been through it before or not.

It's common for new and experienced authors alike to feel confused, stuck, and intimidated when faced with writing a book proposal and approaching publishers. A scholar can lose months—or years—to those feelings, not getting any closer to their goal of publishing a book.

The Book Proposal Shortcut for Busy Scholars takes the guesswork out of pitching your book to scholarly publishers.

The Shortcut is structured with the time and labor pressures of academic life in mind. The program packages up the essential info you need and breaks it down into manageable modules that you can sprint through in a couple of weeks or dip in and out of over a semester or summer.

You'll finish this course with an outstanding book proposal, a list of best-fit presses, and a submission strategy personalized to your own goals and timeline.

Instead of confusion you'll have clarity. Instead of intimidated you'll feel confident. Instead of stuck, you'll be in control and prepared for the next step of your publishing path.

Who should do this program

The Book Proposal Shortcut 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.

The program is designed to fit in around research, teaching, service, and personal commitments (hence "busy scholars" being right there in the name). It's also good for writers who can block out a few weeks to knock the proposal out in one go.

First-time authors and authors with multiple books on their CVs will find the Shortcut'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 lose time to overthinking.

You do not need to have a full book manuscript written in order to write a proposal using the Shortcut. You can even start with just a book idea and use the program to map out the manuscript and a publication plan for yourself.

The Shortcut 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 bit before trying to pitch it as a book. If you're looking for a preview of the book publishing process, I recommend checking out The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors.

What participants are saying about the Shortcut

"Incredibly easy to use and very motivating"

Professor, Lebanon

I found the Book Proposal Shortcut incredibly easy to use and very motivating. I appreciated how easy it was to just tackle a few segments at a time, which makes it perfect even for brief windows in between classes for example. Also, I loved all the short prompts in there; I had never thought of how to describe my project in a one-liner, and the pointers for doing so were very generative.

"Guided structure at [your] own pace"

Assistant Professor, Canada

I signed up for the Shortcut during a semester's teaching-leave where I knew I would have a dedicated amount of time to devote to my book proposal. The Shortcut helped me structure my time, meet small goals at my own pace, and think long-term about the book proposal but also my larger goals in writing a book. I highly recommend to any scholar preparing a book proposal who is looking for some guided structure at their own pace.

"Sent an inquiry to an editor at my top choice press and got a very friendly reply the next day"

Professor, North Carolina

Following Laura's advice and drawing on the examples provided in the Shortcut, I sent an inquiry to an editor at my top choice press and got a very friendly reply the next day encouraging me to submit a proposal and a sample chapter. So I feel that I've already got my money's worth! I'll continue to refer to the materials in the Shortcut as I move ahead with this project.

"Provides the kind of support that I actually need"

Lecturer, Australia

What attracted me to the Book Proposal Shortcut is the flexibility, the sense of structure and overview that it provides and step by step approach. This makes writing a book proposal manageable and also less daunting and anxiety-inducing. I feel like I can tackle the writing process much better than if I were to write the proposal without the course. This is my first time writing a book proposal so I'm grateful for the detailed guide and support that you provide along the way. I know I can do the course in my own time and in bits and chunks as suits my schedule. Also, the timeframe for the course is extremely generous. I don't have to rush to complete it and can take my time to learn an extra thing or two. In short, I'm excited about the course as it suits my needs and provides the kind of support that I actually need.

"I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to use their limited time in an effective way!"

Teaching and Research Associate, Austria

As a first-time-author and the first one at my small academic unit trying to publish her PhD thesis internationally (because the topic is for an international audience), I was trying to guide this new territory. After months of doing research on it every now and then, it felt as if every piece of new information did not quite fit the ones I already had. I felt lost, while, at the same time, I heard the clock ticking for getting my idea out there to avoid the book being outdated or the interest in it vanishing. I purchased the Book Proposal Shortcut to guide me through the process in an active and streamlined way – and that’s exactly what it did. It is a no-nonsense programme that’s helping you to identify exactly what you have to do, it also helps you to understand why you have to do what you have to do, and that is super valuable to me as it creates lasting knowledge and true understanding. The module structure makes this a truly actionable programme to develop your proposal as you go through it and also to check back on certain aspects when you’re finalising and adapting it. Also, the programme does not forget to appreciate the worries of authors and includes much-needed short pep talks as a nice add-on. I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to use their limited time in an effective way!

Your guide

Photograph of Laura Portwood-Stacer

Hi, I'm Laura Portwood-Stacer, creator of the Book Proposal Shortcut. 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 Chicago, University of California, Duke, Minnesota, MIT, 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

How this program works

The Book Proposal Shortcut for Busy Scholars is self-paced. Once enrolled, you'll get access to the curriculum that will guide you step by step through the process of identifying best-fit presses, crafting an outstanding book proposal, and formulating a personalized submission strategy. Each brief lesson provides the same information in three formats—written, video, and audio—so you can consume the content however you like. 

Having personally helped hundreds of scholars navigate the scholarly book publishing process, I've made sure the curriculum addresses all the most common questions and sticking points that I've seen come up again and again. But if you still have questions after viewing a lesson, you can post right in the lesson and I will answer directly, usually within just a day or two.

You'll also get access to a resources library that includes successful proposals from past participants, quick-reference handouts, and a set of accompanying worksheets to help you complete the Shortcut steps. These are provided as Google spreadsheets, as a set of printable PDFs, and as a fillable Word document, so you can use whichever format you prefer.

As a Shortcut enrollee you will be eligible to join Manuscript Works Author Support, a private hub where you can connect with Laura and other Manuscript Works authors and get expert advice on every step of your book publishing journey, from submission strategy to peer review to contract negotiation to book promotion. You will be invited to quarterly live Q&A sessions where you can ask questions, celebrate your progress, and hear from other authors at every stage of the process.


If you are unemployed, precariously employed, or enrolling without any institutional funding support, use coupon code SHORTCUT10 at checkout for a 10% discount.