Answers to Your Questions about the Book Proposal Accelerator

Hi Manuscript Workers,

First, I need to acknowledge that this has been a tough week in the US, with multiple police murders of young people and the ensuing use of outrageous violence by the state, police, and military to suppress dissent. If your thoughts and efforts are not with your scholarly book project, that’s beyond natural and understandable. In times like these, I see one of my roles as staying present to provide some stability and a framework for people who do want to turn to their scholarly work—especially those whose work focuses on matters of racial justice—so you can get that work out into the world without getting tripped up by the (often mystified) ins and outs of the publishing process.

To that end, as you may already know, the next session of my Book Proposal Accelerator will open for enrollment at 9am PDT on May 1st, 2021. The session will run synchronously from June 4th to July 22nd, with weekly live Zooms and daily responsive feedback from me when you share your progress in the online platform. There’s lots more information here, but I’ve received a few questions that I think are worth addressing directly in this newsletter.


Question: Will the Accelerator be offered again after this June–July session?

Answer: In all likelihood, yes. I hope to offer the synchronous version again in January–February of 2022 and June–July of 2022. I will be adjusting the content a bit and possibly migrating to a new online platform, so the price will likely increase in 2022. I am also working on an alternative option for people who can’t or don’t want to participate in the synchronous sessions, but I won’t have details about that to share until later this year.

Question: Will scholarships be available again this time around?

Answer: Yes, I always try to make a few spots available free of charge. These are designated for those who genuinely find the enrollment fee to be a hardship, and I prioritize scholars from communities that historically have been marginalized in the academy. This time around, I will particularly prioritize scholars from the Global South. I will share more details about how to apply for one of these spots later in May.

Question: Do I need to have anything prepared before the Accelerator starts?

Answer: You’ll get the most out of the Accelerator if you have a rough description of your book project and can at least loosely outline and summarize the chapters you intend to include. These things will probably change over the course of the Accelerator, so they definitely don’t need to be set in stone before we begin. When you enroll, you’ll get access to some prompts to help you write down some of this stuff, so it’s ok to sign up before you have those rough drafts ready. You’ll probably just want to have something down by the start date of June 4th.

Question: Do I need to have anything prepared in order to participate in the Zoom sessions?

Answer: No, the live Zoom sessions are very informally structured in a Q&A format. It’s essentially like coming to office hours with me, except more people usually show up than would if I called it “office hours” (haha). Many people just come to listen and learn from others’ questions. You won’t be put on the spot and there’s no obligation to participate actively. The Zoom sessions with guest editors work similarly. They’re a chance to pose your questions directly to working acquisitions editors (this time around they will be Raina Polivka of the University of California Press and Mary Al-Sayed of the University of Chicago Press) but there’s no pressure to speak if you just want to listen. No one is going to make you do a live elevator pitch of your book, I promise (the very thought makes my blood run cold).


Question: I live in a time zone or have care/work obligations that make attending the Zoom sessions inconvenient. How will these be made accessible to me?

Answer: I will be providing written transcripts (with participant names redacted) of all the Zoom sessions for those who can’t attend live. The sessions with guest editors will also be video and audio recorded, with the recordings made available to download after the fact. Unfortunately, I can’t shift the regular times of the Zoom sessions (Fridays at 10am PDT) because I’ve found that having a regular time every week works better than trying to hit different times, and because this is the time that works best for me to facilitate the sessions amid my other obligations.


Question: Is there a deadline to sign up by?

Answer: I will accept enrollments until the capacity is reached, so there’s no hard deadline I can tell you in advance. Previous sessions of the Accelerator have reached full capacity before their start dates, so I would just say that the sooner you sign up (starting May 1st) the more likely you are to secure a spot. There’s no waitlist once the group is full.

Question: How long does it take to complete the curriculum?

Answer: The Accelerator is designed to get you to a complete draft of your book proposal over the span of seven weeks, if you’re able to devote a few hours a week to working on it. I have seen people complete the curriculum and draft a proposal in as little as two weeks, though that’s not the norm. Some people continue to work on their proposal after the synchronous Accelerator session ends. I make all the materials accessible to download, so it’s completely reasonable to keep working after the session ends if you work at a slower pace or something comes up in the middle of the session that prevents you from staying on track. I have a strict no-productivity-shaming policy because everyone has their own pace/timeline and that’s fine.

Question: Do you also offer one-on-one book proposal services?

Answer: My doors are currently closed to new one-on-one clients (sadly). I do have a Quick Proposal Eval service, designed for people who have completed a draft of their proposal and want personalized feedback on it plus some help creating a targeted submission strategy, but I’m fully booked for now (with a waitlist) and have closed down scheduling until I can catch up. I do give personalized feedback within the Accelerator. Participants are welcome to share drafts of their proposal components and I respond within the group platform so that all the other participants may benefit from the feedback as well. If you’re looking to work on a proposal with me in the foreseeable future, the Accelerator is the way to go. :)

Any other questions? You can respond to this email or message me directly at laura@manuscriptworks.com. Wishing everyone a safe & healthy week, against the odds.