Hello, Manuscript Workers!
This week I’m celebrating the fourth anniversary of this weekly newsletter! I know a couple hundred of you have been here since the beginning in 2019 (thank you), but almost 9000 of you have joined at some point in the intervening years. Some of you have subscribed or signed up for one of my programs just in the past week. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to reintroduce myself to everyone.
I’m Laura Portwood-Stacer and I run a one-person editorial consultancy called Manuscript Works. I launched my business in 2015, after pivoting out of a full-time academic teaching position (a visiting assistant professorship in the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU).
Before that, I earned my PhD in Communication from the University of Southern California. I attended undergrad at Michigan State University and spent my whole life in Michigan before moving to Los Angeles for grad school. I currently live in Los Angeles again following a nine-year stint in Brooklyn and Long Island.
My mission in starting an editorial business was two-fold. First, I needed a fulfilling job that would generate a sustainable income because I no longer saw an academic career as a viable pursuit. And second, I wanted to help people—like myself—who found themselves navigating the hidden curriculum of scholarly publishing without much guidance or confidence. I had published a monograph based on my dissertation but felt like I was fumbling my way through it the whole time. As I learned more about scholarly writing and publishing, I realized there were so many things I “should” have known and done with my first book, but didn’t. My hope was to save other scholars from some of the specific regrets that I experienced and to help people feel really good overall about the books they were trying to put into the world.
It’s been eight years since I set out on that mission, and I’m very satisfied with how it’s going so far. I began by offering 1-1 developmental editing services to individual authors, and I now offer online courses, institutional workshops, public webinars, and an archive of free resources to share the insight I’ve gained into scholarly book publishing.
In 2021, I had the good fortune of publishing The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors with Princeton University Press in their Skills for Scholars series. I’m working on another book that I hope will further demystify the scholarly editing and publishing process — more on that soon when I have firmer details to share.
I think that’s probably enough about me for now. If you want to learn more, you can always check out my website.
Now I’d like to hear why you’re here! How did you first learn about Manuscript Works and why have you stuck around with this newsletter? What questions do you have about scholarly editing and book publishing that I can help with in a future edition of the newsletter? If you work in publishing, what topics do you wish aspiring authors knew more about? Please leave a comment on this post to share your thoughts.
As an anniversary gift to my wonderful readers, I will select three commenters to receive a free ebook copy of The Book Proposal Book. I’ll contact you directly if you’re a winner, and you can tell me whether you’d like the book sent to you or to the recipient of your choice.
Thanks again for coming along on this ride with me!
I first heard about you and The Book Proposal Book through word-of-mouth as I was developing my book proposal. An an unaffiliated scholar, I craved guidance through the process. Following your instructions helped me to land a contract offer from a commercial academic press last month. I'm now seriously considering a career pivot to academic editing once the book is finished and plan to take your Developmental Editing course sequence at that point!
I got your Book Proposal Book and it was tremendously helpful in preparing my SUCCESSFUL book proposal! My book comes out with a major academic publisher this June! Wooooooo!!!!!! I came to the newsletter subsequent to the book. In a future newsletter, I'd love for you to write about how to draft more books. How does it feel different? Is it easier? Is it more challenging in some ways? How much can or should someone repeat what is in a previous book so as to accommodate new readers? Another topic could be how to do a book proposal with a coauthor. My pal and I did this VERY successfully so maybe we could coauthor a post with you! Thank you for your work -- you've been very helpful to us and your book is worth every penny and more.