Laura Portwood Stacer

How to Pitch Your Book to Scholarly Publishers

Overcome common sticking points with scholarly and university presses


Laura Portwood-Stacer


Live on March 25, 2022, or watch recording


Nonfiction authors who want to work with university or scholarly presses


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

If you’re working on a serious nonfiction project, an academic monograph, or a book with regional appeal, a university press or other scholarly publisher might be the perfect fit for your project. But academic publishing has distinct norms and expectations, and understanding what they are will increase your odds of a successful pitch.

In this 75-minute webinar with Laura Portwood-Stacer, an experienced developmental editor and publishing consultant, you will learn:

  • how scholarly presses differ from trade publishers (and what advantages scholarly publishers offer)
  • the key steps of the acquisition process and how to navigate them
  • how to evaluate presses for fit and approach relevant editors (yes, you can approach without an agent!)
  • how to pitch if you don’t have a finished manuscript
  • how to grab an editor’s attention with a strong working title
  • what to expect from the peer review process

Most academic publisher websites provide information for prospective authors, including guidelines for submitting a book proposal (that info might be buried in the site menu somewhere, so be prepared to dig for it). You’ll learn what the submissions terminology means, plus get a high-level overview of book proposal writing, including:

  • what scholarly publishers love to see in book proposal submissions and how to make yours stand out
  • red flag issues often found in book proposals
  • how your comparable books analysis makes a case for a fit between the book and the press
  • why the table of contents and chapter summaries are so important

Whether you’re hoping to publish your first book or you’re a seasoned author, this class provides honest advice on how to overcome common sticking points and get your book published.

Who should take this class

  • Writers of academic books and academic monographs
  • Writers of serious nonfiction books
  • Writers working on a book of regional appeal

This class isn’t suited for:

  • Fiction writers and poets
  • Memoirists or those working on a “hybrid memoir”
  • Anyone who wants to publish with a major trade house (e.g., Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster)

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Friday, March 25, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:15 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Fee: $30

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

Laura Portwood Stacer

About the instructor

Laura Portwood-Stacer is the founder of Manuscript Works, a publishing consultancy helping scholarly authors get published since 2015. Laura has helped hundreds of prospective authors craft book proposals and land publishing contracts through her online programs. Her clients have published with dozens of competitive scholarly publishers, including Harvard UP, Yale UP, University of Chicago Press, University of California Press, Duke University Press, the MIT Press and many more.

Laura is the author of The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors, published in 2021 by Princeton University Press. Before becoming a freelance developmental editor and consultant, Laura received a PhD in communication from the University of Southern California and taught media studies at New York University. Her first book, an academic monograph, was published by Bloomsbury in 2013.

As an academic based outside of North America, but embedded in a system that gives great credit to books published by its academic presses, Laura’s knowledge of the North American publishing structure and editors’ expectations has been invaluable.

Client / student

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. After working with Laura, 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 my enthusiasm for the topic!

Client / student

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.

Client / student

All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. After roughly 60 minutes, Laura will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.