Turning your Doctoral Dissertation into a Book

Stage One: Getting your thesis reviewed by major publishers

Try to get your thesis out to publishers for review in the year after your Ph.D. defence.

What is the audience for your thesis? Considering your audience will help you to write a short 2 page letter to editors as to why they should review your typescript.

What are the publishing presses that have series or publish books on similar topics to your thesis? Ask for advice from your Ph.D. examiners about which presses they think would be most appropriate.

Contact series editors, authors who have published with the presses, and prominent scholars working in your area. Use all the networks you can think of. Get a commitment to review your ms. by at least two presses.

Stage Two: The Review Process

Write a letter responding to reviewer comments. How will you will address these comments and how will you do so constructively to improve the quality and the marketability of your book? Your letter is your ticket to a book contract. You should be aiming to sell your book to press and editorial board members who are unconvinced and who receive many such requests to publish books.

DO NOT go ahead and make revisions suggested by reviewers until you have a book contract. Go with the press that gives you a contract prior to revisions.

Stage Three: The Revisions Process

Devote yourself fully to the revisions task. DO NOT begin a second major project until it is completed in case you lose interest.

Most reviewers will recommend removing laborious and extensive literature reviews or “throat clearing”. One of my (Jacqui’s) reviewers reminded me that I was competing with “Ally McBeal” [A 1990s TV show] for my readers! Have you established a good working relationship with your editor. Have you obtained consent for the use of excerpts, images etc.

Produce a flawless typescript. No copy editor can detect all your mistakes.

Stage Four: Going to Press

From copy editing through proofs and until the publication of a book generally takes up to one year for scholarly books. Make sure you ask when you can expect your book to be published and that you meet all the press deadlines.

Even when you don’t miss a beat, it is a long time after you have completed your Ph.D. before you will see a version of it in press. Have you considered publishing your research findings in other venues simultaneously and for other audiences?