Online | Nonfiction | Seminar

1-Day Nonfiction Seminar: Turning Short Pieces Into Book Proposals

In this one-day seminar, writers of pieces of humor, journalism, and other shorter online forms will learn the nuts and bolts of putting together a book proposal. In this viral age, you never know when a piece can take off – and all of a sudden opportunities are coming your way that you need to act on!

We’ll cover the pieces of a standard book proposal, talk about creating/maintaining a platform, discuss finding comparable titles and how to compare them to your own work, and create and refine shorter pieces you will need for any proposal, such as author bios and an idea of how to situate your writing and voice in the larger marketplace.

Students can expect to walk away with a clear understanding and outline of the pieces of a book proposal, an author bio that emphasizes their unique voice and area of expertise (rather than just a list of credits), and a series of actionable steps for going forward in terms of platform, contacting literary agents, and publishing as a business.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- A firm understanding and breakdown of the shape and pieces required for a book proposal

- A unique, workshopped author bio that can be used at a moment’s notice

- Action steps related to creating and/or maintaining a platform that works for you, that publishers can refer to when they look at your work

- Advice on soliciting and looking for literary agents who are a good match for your project

- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will be sent a series of exercises the week before the class that will take between 1-2 hours to complete.

Caitlin Kunkel

Caitlin Kunkel is a satirist and producer with bylines in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. She co-wrote the humor book "New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust, and Equal Pay," named one of the 10 Best Comedy Books of 2018 by Vulture. She’s the co-founder of the comedy site The Belladonna, created the online satire writing program for The Second City, and co-founded the Satire and Humor Festival. She teaches and speaks on satire and writing across the US and internationally.


"I absolutely, 100%, would not have sold my book without Caitlin's guidance and advice. My editor and agent both were like "Wow your proposal was so great!" and I was like "I truly cannot take credit..." and that is my absolutely full-throated recommendation for this workshop."

Taylor Kay Phillips author of the upcoming gift book, "Midwestern Guide to Conversation"

"There are not enough good things to say about Caitlin Kunkel’s teaching! Her deep knowledge, kind tips, and crystal-clear instruction took me from staring with confusion at a blank page to developing my own book proposal in no time at all. Her generosity is unparalleled and, as an editor, her feedback made my writing exponentially better. Seriously, take this class."

former Catapult student

"Caitlin Kunkel was the teacher I needed to take my humor writing to the next level. She's a gifted writer, a knowledgeable instructor, and the most insightful editor I've ever worked with. Her feedback on my work was invaluable. I published nearly every piece I wrote in her classes and ended up recouping my tuition and then some."

former student

"Caitlin is pretty great, you guys. She teaches with insight, offers notes with purpose and respect and pushes you farther than you think you can go - over and over again. Her enthusiasm for her students and their work puts Walmart Greeters to shame. And her sense of humor is as twisted as they come. For the record: that is a compliment."

former student

"I had tried my hand a few times in satire writing but never quite nailed it, until I took Caitlin's workshop. She helped me understand the importance of having a clear target and approach to my pieces, because I tend to be all over the place with my writing. Needless to say, the piece I wrote during Caitlin's class ended up being my first submission and published piece in McSweeney's! And that's not a reflection on my writing so much as Caitlin's awesomeness. Take her class, you won't regret it."

former student

"NEW EROTICA FOR FEMINISTS accomplishes what the best satire always should: it's smart, funny, and, most importantly, necessary. I loved it. So will you. I could have kept reading forever."


“This erotica made my loins enflamed with desire... to smash the patriarchy. I would gladly read a whole book of it and pay even a whole Man’s Salary to purchase said book. It deserves to be promoted as much as any high-performance woman in the workplace.”

Alexandra Petri WASHINGTON POST columnist

"The Belladonna is the new Onion, a combination humor/fake news/lifestyle parody site from a sharp, female and/or feminist point of view that delivers precise, critical blows to toxic masculinity, the dumbass patriarchy, and dumbassery in general. In that spirit, Belladonna editors Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor, and Carrie Wittmer wrote a piece for MCSWEENEY'S that rightfully went viral for its relatability and hilarity: NEW EROTICA FOR FEMINISTS in which women’s constantly unfulfilled wish for equality and decency and to not be treated like sex objects is expressed via short erotic stories, like a paragraph from a romance novel, or a letter to Penthouse. Well, they turned the idea into a whole book of inspiring and vital “erotica.” For example, when Juliet dumps Romeo because their relationship is clearly toxic, or a fantasy about Tom Hardy filling one’s fridge with LaCroix and then playing with a rescue dog."