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 in 2019 to give scholars a place to learn 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 scholars' 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.

What is the Book Proposal Accelerator?

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 project or even just a book idea, and you leave with a pitch that will help you get it published with a scholarly press.

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 July 1st and August 11th.

Life happens, though, so there is no pressure to finish by August 11th. You will have the opportunity to continue receiving feedback and support at your own pace through the end of November 2023.

Nearly 500 scholars have completed the 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.

How does the Accelerator work?

When you enroll you will receive a complementary ebook copy of The Book Proposal Book. (You can begin reading it to acquaint yourself with the scholarly publishing process, save it for later, or gift it to a friend.)

On July 1, 2023, 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 and share your work for direct 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. Private feedback is not part of the Accelerator program.

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.

The live sessions will be held on the following dates:

Friday, July 7, 2023, 10–11am PDT

Friday, July 14, 2023, 10–11am PDT

Friday, July 21, 2023, 10–11am PDT (with guest Courtney Berger of Duke University Press)

Friday, July 28, 2023, 10–11am PDT

Friday, August 4, 2023, 10–11am PDT (with guest Akin Akinwumi of Willenfield Literary Agency)

Friday, August 11, 2023, 10–11am PDT

Friday, October 6, 2023, 10-11am PDT

Friday November, 3, 2023, 10-11am PDT

Participants will also be invited to participate in an optional 5-day Book Proposal Sprint with daily co-working and Q&A sessions during the week of August 21–25.

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.

The program is structured to enable those who wish to finish a proposal draft within the first six weeks of the program to do so. However, all participants are encouraged to work at the pace that suits them best, and you will be able to post your work and receive feedback at any time through November 2023.

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.

Your guide

Hi, I'm Laura Portwood-Stacer, creator of the Book Proposal Accelerator. 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, 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

What past participants have said about the Accelerator

"The Book Proposal Accelerator is the most valuable professional development experience I've done in my academic career. The Accelerator's clear structure and Laura's consistent guidance demystified the publishing process, sharpened my ability to articulate the ideas and goals of my project, and helped me receive an advance contract far sooner than I would have working on my own."

--Assistant Professor, Illinois

"The Book Proposal Accelerator provided the structure and Laura's feedback provided the guidance (and confidence) to turn a good idea into a winning proposal. I was able to repurpose the book proposal description into a successful fellowship application. Now I have the time to work on my book for an entire year! I cannot recommend the Accelerator enough to anyone looking to jumpstart a book project."

--Associate Professor, Texas

"I tried to write a proposal last year, but quickly felt overwhelmed by the task, simply because I did not know how the process worked. The Accelerator broke the proposal down in smaller, manageable units so I was able to follow through without getting stressed out. Now 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. And, most importantly, I found back my enthusiasm for the topic!"

--Postdoctoral Researcher, Germany

"I was just offered an advance contract (based on my proposal and 2 sample chapters) with a competitive university press. I could not have accomplished this goal without Laura's Book Proposal Accelerator and other offerings. Truly, Laura's insights and guidance made all the difference."
--Associate Professor, Minnesota

"I feel like I have a better handle on my project and the pit of anxiety over it is gone."

--Assistant Professor, Pakistan

"I can't say enough good things about this Accelerator! Laura guides you through not just the proposal, but really helps you envision your project as a real book. If you are an early career scholar trying to write a book, I highly recommend."

--Assistant Professor, Ohio

"The Book Proposal Accelerator pushed me to think deeply about a book I haven't even written yet! As I prepare to write the manuscript, I feel much more confident and clear about my purposes and arguments."

--Independent scholar, New York

"Laura's Book Proposal Accelerator gave me the structure and motivation I needed to get through the process in seven weeks. Her modules made me think about the argument and audience of my book at every stage, which was enormously clarifying in terms of the direction the writing will take. I now have a book proposal that covers everything editors need to see, and thanks to Laura's guidance and feedback I feel confident about pitching it to prospective publishers."

--Lecturer, Australia

"The Book Proposal Accelerator is a fantastic platform and experience, and well worth every dollar. I’ve begun sending out the book proposal, and after going through the process I'm much more confident in my ability to articulate what makes my manuscript different and, hopefully, publishable. Just as importantly, my manuscript’s introduction is already a bit stronger, and I’m more confident talking about it. I’ll certainly be spreading the word to colleagues."

-- Associate Professor, Canada

"I was hesitant at first to sign up for the Accelerator because I had flashbacks to creative writing workshops gone awry, but Laura truly created a safe online learning space where folks from all different levels of experience could learn from one another. And I've learned so much in a short period of time. I appreciate the opportunity to read the interdisciplinary in-process writing of other participants and to engage in exercises that helped me to plan the skeleton of my manuscript. I will be recommending the Accelerator to my colleagues and peers."

--Assistant Professor, New York

"While I have written books, coedited volumes, and special issues, I feel I should have known some of the things I am learning now, but I do not. Academia can be an intimidating place but Laura's approach feels like one of rare kindness and acceptance – that I am taking my not knowing as an opportunity (rather than weakness)."

-- Assistant Professor, Czech Republic

"I was a participant in the Book Proposal Accelerator in 2020. To be honest, I wasn't as active a participant as I'd hoped to be when I signed up, due to a bunch of very 2020 reasons. But a little over a year later, I was able to sit down with the workshop materials on my own and really work through them (with the assistance of Laura's book, happily). In late 2021 I sent my proposal and sample chapter to two presses and got favorable feedback from both acquisitions editors. In early 2022, my dream press had the materials sent out for peer review. Happily, the reports were positive and last week the press voted to offer me an advance contract. I wanted to share this data point on the success of Laura's approach to the proposal development process, even for folks unable to fully engage in the Accelerator program while it's happening. Like many would-be academic authors, I've spent quite a while with my book project stuck in a web of anxiety and neuroticism (compounded of course by how much that worry can slow down the work of actually writing!). The concrete guidance and structure Laura provides for working through the proposal was key to me getting out of my own way. I also appreciate the tone Laura takes, acknowledging the difficulty of the process with empathy but treating it as something surmountable with sustained work and a solid grasp on the process."

--Research scientist, Texas

"The materials in the Accelerator are truly wonderful and (perhaps even more importantly) Laura's overall approach has been really refreshing and inspiring. Too many people in academia seem to confuse being "honest" with being mean, and the atmosphere that Laura has been able to create here is a refreshing alternative to all that. That's especially helpful given that so many of us are sharing materials that are in-process or under-baked or unfinished. Thank you!"

--Assistant Professor, Florida

"I learned about Laura during a random encounter. My mentor forwarded an event called "What BIPOC Authors Need to Know About Academic Book Publishing" in November 2021. I found Laura's presentation at this virtual event extremely useful. Afterward, I signed up for her newsletter. Laura's weekly emails were insightful. Without knowing more about her, I signed up for Laura's Book Proposal Accelerator course. While I would not usually make a sizable investment without further due diligence, it was clear that Laura was an expert in her field and that her workshop was what I needed to keep me on task with meeting my book writing goals. Laura and the value of her workshop far exceeded my expectations, and I received a return or benefit on my initial investment. Laura is extremely knowledgeable, graceful, engaged, responsive, and generous. I love that she presents materials using different modalities for varied learners and preferences - for example, she provides written lessons in audio and video formats. I also appreciate Laura's templates, which offered an excellent guide and roadmap to the book proposal process that I plan to use for future reference. Laura provided insightful and timely feedback to my submissions, which demonstrated her deep level of engagement, care, and investment in my success. Also, Laura did more than show me how to write a proposal; she also helped develop content as if she was an editor. She connected me to presses in her network, invited presses as guest speakers, and provided other unexpected add-ons. Finally, Laura gives honest, gentle, and encouraging feedback, leaving no fuel for our insider-critic or imposter syndrome, increasing productivity and outcomes. I highly recommend Laura and her course and am incredibly grateful for random encounters that become essential investments with exceeding value. I would retake this course and have already shared it with my institution and friends who have signed up. Thank you, Laura!"

--Postdoctoral Fellow, California

Who is the Book Proposal Accelerator for?

The 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 July through November 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 [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.

This course is closed for enrollment.