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 finishing a proposal by mid-July.

After the core weeks of the program (June 1–July 15, 2022), you'll receive ongoing support in the form of group co-working sessions, monthly Q&As, and continuing opportunities to get feedback on your pitch at your own pace until the end of May 2023.

There's no obligation to stick around for the full year of the program — the extra time and support is simply there if you need it.

Over 400 scholars have completed the Accelerator to date. They've landed contracts with competitive presses such as Oxford UP, Princeton UP, University of California Press, MIT Press, and more.


How does the Accelerator work?


Starting June 1, 2022, you'll get access to worksheets, sample proposals, and 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.

There's no pressure to share your work if you'd prefer not to, though I don't offer private feedback as part of the Accelerator. Past participants have said that much of the value of the Accelerator lies in seeing how other people craft their proposal material and how I respond to it.

We will also have live coworking and 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 (the first hour will be quiet coworking time, the second hour will be group Q&A):

Friday, June 3, 2022, 9–11am PDT

Friday, June 10, 2022, 9–11am PDT

Friday, June 17, 2022, 9–11am PDT

Friday, June 24, 2022, 9–11am PDT (with guest editor Bridget Flannery-McCoy of Princeton UP)

Friday, July 8, 2022, 9–11am PDT (with guest editor Jenny Tan of U Penn Press)

Friday, July 15, 2022, 9–11am PDT

Additional live check-in/Q&A sessions will be held monthly for the remainder of the program (usually on the first Friday of the month). Ongoing co-working sessions will be scheduled in response to participant demand.

Attendance at the live sessions is optional, as 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 Accelerator if you can’t attend the live sessions.

Transcripts and recordings of the Q&A sessions will be provided for those who can't attend live.

The program is structured to enable those who wish to finish a proposal draft within the first two months 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 May 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 co-working 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 ManuscriptWorks.com.

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 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 year of ongoing support 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 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.

The Book Proposal Accelerator has reached capacity for the 2022 session.


The Manuscript Works Newsletter will announce enrollment details for the next session (projected to begin in summer of 2023) when they become available.

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