Online | Nonfiction | Seminar

4-Week Online Nonfiction Seminar: Understanding the Book Proposal

If you want to publish a nonfiction book, odds are exceptionally high that you are going to sell it to a publisher on proposal.

Whether you are an essayist or a subject matter expert, an influencer or even a memoirist, you are joining the ranks of nonfiction writers before you, staring down the mountain that is the book proposal: That most curious (and frustrating) of documents where art meets business.

What absolutely has to be in a book proposal? There are numbers in it? (Why?!) What is the purpose of including competitive titles? How do you pick them? What the hell is an overview? How can what is essentially a sales document possibly showcase the breadth of your literary accomplishments and ambition?

If all the Googling in the world hasn’t helped, don’t worry. In this class, we’ll take four weeks to intensively discuss each part of the book proposal and, together, generate new outlines and fresh new material for your respective proposals. As a writer who sold a book on proposal and also as someone who worked in marketing for years, I’m here as a guide to help your inner editor/fear brain take a backseat and help you understand how to bring art and commerce together in a way that works for you.

This class is for nonfiction writers who already have finished or close-to-finished projects that are fully conceptualized. Having material ready to work with when it comes to brainstorming how to pitch it in the proposal is essential for this class.

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 desktop client so you have access to all platform features.


- The generation of a new, invigorated outline and fresh material for your book proposal

- An improved understanding of the business aspects of the book proposal's function and process (AKA, getting out of your own way)

- Connections and the support of other writers who are in a similar professional stage

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will complete in-class generative prompts and exercises that are designed to help you fill out and/or revise your book proposal. (These exercises vary in length, but will be no more than 500-700 words). There will be verbal feedback within classroom discussion. The instructor will also provide prompts to do on your own time outside of class.

Students should also be prepared to complete short weekly readings and should be ready to participate in class discussion.


Week 1: Introduction & Deep Dive: The real function of a book proposal

Week 2: You, the Businessperson: How to Sell the Shit Out of Yourself (when it’s the last thing you want to do)

Week 3: You, The Artist: Threading Your Voice Throughout

Week 4: You, the Author: The Overview & Tying It All Together

Jeanna Kadlec

Jeanna Kadlec is the author of the forthcoming memoir-in-essays This I Know: A Memoir of Heresy (Mariner Books, 2022). Her writing has appeared in Longreads, ELLE, Glamour, NYLON, O the Oprah Magazine, Allure, LitHub, and more. You can subscribe to her newsletter, Astrology for Writers, and find her on Twitter here.


“This class opens up a whole new world in what it means to be a writer. In eight weeks, I learned so much from Jeanna and others in the class. It was a supportive environment and experience — highly recommend it.”

Enid former student

“Jeanna is such a skilled and generous teacher! She held space for the class to explore the complex feelings and questions that came up around this work and I really appreciated her humor and ability to share her expertise in a way that felt generative and expansive. Highly recommended!”

Britt former student

“Jeanna is a thoughtful and generous teacher. Her course helped me reconnect with the writer within and will shape my work for years to come."

Eleanor former student