Last Chance to Join the Book Proposal Accelerator

For Fall 2019

If your “school year’s resolution” is to finish your book proposal this semester, but you’re feeling a little bit lost about the whole enterprise, I’ve got just the thing for you. The Manuscript Works book proposal accelerator, starting next Monday, September 9th, is an 8-week online program that guides academic authors step-by-step through the process of crafting a scholarly book proposal. 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 pitchable final product (with thanks to my colleague Heath Sledge for the suggestion). But it’s also about accelerating your book proposal development process so that, in the space of several weeks, you finish a presentable-if-not-perfect draft that you feel confident talking to acquiring editors about.


During the live weeks of the accelerator, I will provide you with tips and templates to guide you through drafting and polishing all the components of your book proposal. Threads in the group platform will enable you to share your work with other participants and me for direct feedback. Four times throughout the accelerator I’ll host live Q&A sessions via video conference where you can ask any specific questions you may have about your proposal or the academic book publishing process. The days and times of the Q&As will vary to allow maximum participation. At least one of the Q&As will feature a guest acquisitions editor from a university press. I will also be accessible to answer direct questions throughout the accelerator through the group platform.

Any work you do on your proposal draft will be self-paced, though the structure of the accelerator is designed to get you to a complete draft as painlessly as possible if you keep up with the step-by-step tasks. I will not be able to provide private book proposal evaluations as part of the accelerator, but my goal is to provide the tools you need to draft and revise your own proposal with confidence.

At the end of the course you will receive a compiled document with the entire set of lessons and tips, plus a checklist to assist you in making sure you’ve covered all the bases with your completed proposal.


We’ll cover everything you need to put together a complete book proposal document, including how to:

  • identify appropriate target presses

  • give publishers what they want to see in scholarly book proposals

  • articulate your primary and secondary readerships

  • showcase your core argument and contribution

  • assemble a compelling project description

  • expose the structure of your narrative with effective chapter summaries

  • invite readers in with accessible book and chapter titles

  • select and discuss competing titles

  • present contextual information such as manuscript specs and status, author bio, and previous publications

  • calibrate style and voice to your audiences

  • make your pitch to acquisitions editors

  • navigate the acquisitions and review process in scholarly publishing


The accelerator is intended for authors who are preparing to publish a book with a scholarly press in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. You do not need to have your entire book manuscript completed, but you should be able to provide an overview of the project and its component chapters before we begin. You do not need to be a first-time author; several participants in the pilot session of the accelerator were working on second or third books. You may even find the accelerator useful as a way to conceptualize your next book before you write it!

The accelerator is a more affordable alternative to an individual book proposal evaluation with me, plus its structure is designed to guide you through the process of drafting the document (almost) from scratch. This makes it good for people who want some structured help but aren’t ready to splash out on an individual evaluation. The accelerator is also ideal for authors who have been sitting on a proposal draft for months or years and need some motivation to get the damn thing done and off their desk.

You can find more info about the accelerator and an enrollment form here. Enrollment closes on September 8th, this Sunday. (If you think the extra-accelerated winter break session might be better for you, you can get discount pricing on that if you sign up by September 8th.) Tell your friends and colleagues too!