What the Heck Is A Book Proposal (& How Do I Write One?)

What the Heck Is A Book Proposal (& How Do I Write One?)

Live Workshop

September 12, 2020, 11AM-2:30PM PT/2-5:30PM EST

(scholarships offered; see below)

During this seminar for nonfiction writers, we will take a practical look at how to create a nonfiction book proposal that sells.

I‘m a former book proposal coach who specialized in helping those new to the publishing world create and sell their nonfiction books. Along the way, I learned the ins and outs of writing nonfiction book proposals—and I want to share that information with you.

This three-hour seminar, during which I’ll walk you through a book proposal and answer questions about traditional publishing, is intended for those who are inexperienced with the book proposal process. We will also have a guest who knows the answers to the things I don’t: Calvert Morgan, Executive Editor at Riverhead at Penguin Books, who specializes in literary nonfiction (one of his most recent projects is Eula Biss’s newest book, Having and Being Had).

Worksheets will be made available to students, as well as sample proposals from acclaimed authors such as Sarah Weinman, author of The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World, and Morgan Jerkins, author of the New York Times bestseller, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America. Also, there will be live transcription available during the workshop.

Because of the nature of the class, the workshop will be recorded and shared with participants for 24 hours after it takes place, but a recording will not be made permanently available.

If you have general questions about the workshop, such as about content, please DM me at Instagram (esmewwang).

Sign up & be the first to know what workshops will be offered again and when

& alongside important updates, you’ll also receive With Love & Squalor—monthly love letters from me about life, resilience, and making the most of our days.


 I’m offering 44 scholarships to BIPOC in financial need and 10 scholarships to non-BIPOC in financial need. If you are interested in helping to creating scholarship(s), please get in touch with my assistant Chloe at hello@chlobelleo.com.

Loyalty Bookshop, Rachel Berg Scherer (of Midwest Writing & Editing), Katie Adams, and Regina Anaejionu have provided generous donations for BIPOC scholarships.

Doors are now closed for scholarship applications.


A portion of the net revenue from the workshop will be donated to TGI Justice Project.


If you have general questions about the workshop, such as about content, please DM me at Instagram (esmewwang). If you have technical questions about the workshop (about payment, timing, scholarships, etc.), please email my assistant Chloe at hello@chlobelleo.com.

Teaching Testimonials

“My ‘book proposal’ was still just a bunch of ideas in the back of my mind, and scribbled in the pages of my journal.

And then, just as I started to think I really needed to do something about pulling this proposal together, I got an email from Esme Wang, a talented writer and professional editor who has done a fantastic job editing projects for me in the past. Out of the blue, after nearly a year without contact, she says*, ‘I’m just checking in about possible projects. Do you have anything you need editing?’*

Well, funny you should ask… And so, with Esme’s help, I put together an ambitious plan to write my entire book proposal in a matter of weeks, with regular Skype check-ins and frequent reviews. The pressure it puts on me is just what I need and the proposal starts to flow.”

—Beth Kempton, a self-help author whose books have now been translated into 24 languages

Praise For Other Workshops Taught By Esmé

“Your discussion of creating scaffolding, of using notebooks to nurture and grow responses to images, these and more, but most of all your gracious, inclusive presence have made a palpable difference to me. I feel a renewed and new sense of purpose and agency in relation to my writing process.”

Joan F.

“I wanted to say thank you for organising and hosting this wonderful workshop. I really enjoyed it. I was a bit anxious going in, seeing as I haven’t attended live webinars before and was afraid it would be awkward. But I needn’t have worried, as you created a very welcoming and warm atmosphere in those two hours… I really appreciate how open and validating you were while talking about using obsessions to fuel creativity and everyday life.“

Milena T.

“This was such a valuable learning experience, which, for me, sitting here in a small town in India, with limited resources and financial means, this would have been impossible to access, and I thank you for your generosity. It was incredible and almost like a dream for a writer like me to enrich myself with all these things that I learnt yesterday. Thanks to the evolution of technology as well that also made it happen.

It unlocked a whole lot of ideas and strategies to generate new work like allowing ourselves to grope in the dark and follow our obsessions for the story to be made. I am a better thinker and writer today.”

Arpita C.

Esmé Weijun Wang with a blue pixie cut, wearing a floral dress, wire-rim glasses and red lipstickEsmé Weijun Wang is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays and The Border of Paradise: A Novel. She received the Whiting Award in 2018 and was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists of 2017; her short fiction has been included in the Best American Short Stories anthology. She has also received fellowships to Yaddo and MacDowell. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and lives in San Francisco.