My Top Five Tips for Turning Your Dissertation Into a Book–A Special Request Post

This is a repost from 2011.

Today is another Special Request Post.  This one is from Maria, who asks, do I have a template (like my Foolproof Grant Template) for turning a dissertation into a book?

No, Maria, I do not.  The process of turning the dissertation into a book will be different for every writer, and doesn’t lend itself to a template.  But there are some tips that I can offer for easing the process and making it more efficient.  This post is my Top Five Tips for Turning Your Dissertation Into a Book.

Why should you turn your dissertation into a book, you ask?

If you are in a book field, the fact is, your dissertation must be transformed into a book to be of full value to you.  The dissertation alone counts for little in the academic career.  The dissertation serves you only insofar as you can quickly transform it into the commodities that bring value on the market—peer reviewed articles (preferably published before you defend and start the job search), high profile grants that funded the research, high profile conferences in which you present the research publicly, and finally, the advance contract for the book from a major (NOT minor) academic press.  These are the tangible accomplishments that you must have to be competitive for a tenure track position at this point in time.

So here are The Professor’s Top Five Tips for Turning your Dissertation into a Book.

1)  Write the dissertation as a book to begin with.

Write from day one with a wide market of undergraduates in mind.  You want the book to be assigned as a text in undergraduate courses in your field.  Write it so those undergraduates can read it.  Don’t spend endless pages on tiresome, tedious obscurities of interest to 10 people in your sub- sub- sub-field.  Remember that the methodology section will be entirely removed from the book mss.  And the literature review will be almost entirely removed, with a small section folded into the Introduction or other chapters.  Conceptualize and write the entire thing remembering that these sections, while critical to your committee, are short-lived.  Don’t obsess about them; do the minimum, and move on.   In the meantime, put extra effort into a catchy, appealing Introduction and Conclusion.  These speak to readers, and to the editors and reviewers who will judge your mss. for publication.

2)  Make it short.

Academic publishing is in the same epic financial crisis as the rest of the academic world.  Publishers are going out of business right and left, and those that remain are under pressure to publish books that actually sell and make a profit (unlike the old days when it was understood that scholarly monographs rarely broke even).  Publishers must keep their production costs low, and this means they want shorter books.  I can promise you that if you present them with a 500 page monograph on the significance of the turtle as a symbol in 12th century religious iconography in Spain, for example, they are going to send it back with a polite email telling you they won’t be considering it until it is cut in half.

3) Know your market.

The dissertation may be treated like the intellectual achievement par excellence in your doctoral program, but in the real world of jobs with benefits, it is a commodity that has value only when it can be traded for gain on the market.  Ask yourself what sort of class your diss/book is suited for.  Do a google search of such classes and find out what kinds of books are assigned.  Take a look at those books and see what their main selling points seem to be.  Then ask yourself how you can adjust and mold your dissertation to be the kind of book that serves that market (without losing sight of your actual project and findings, of course!).  When you send the mss. to presses, you will be able to feature this “market research” prominently in your cover letter.

4) Don’t be boring.

Write with style and flair.  Just because you *can* write clunky, graceless prose in academia, and get away with it, doesn’t mean you *should.*  Be provocative.  Be original.  Be incendiary.  If your committee shies away from such showmanship, write a shadow chapter that you include once you’ve defended and are ready to send the mss. out to presses.  Presses are not interested in “solid scholarship.”  They are interested in products that sell.  Products that sell have to be differentiated from the competition–ie, they have to be exciting, new, and different.

5) Remember that your committee is not the world.

You have to please your committee to get a Ph.D., but you have to impress the presses to get a career.  Your committee controls you for a few years, but your book establishes your career trajectory for decades.  Set your eye on the prize, and don’t lose sight of it.  Do what you have to to satisfy your committee, but don’t ever forget who is in charge:  you.  You have an agenda, and that is publishing an influential, high-profile book with a top press.  Do not be derailed by committee politics and wrangles over whether you included XX citation in chapter 3 or properly acknowledged ZZ’s work in chapter 4.  Follow your own star, defend your positions, compromise when you must, and move on as efficiently as you can.  The best dissertation is a finished dissertation that is already a press-ready mss.

Here is my dissertation story:

I wrote a doctoral dissertation on why some young, single Japanese women in the early 1990s were demonstrating a striking enthusiasm for studying abroad, living abroad, working abroad, and finding white Western men to be their lovers and husbands.  My peers and professors in my graduate program severely disapproved of this project, and I was told by countless people that it wasn’t “legitimate” anthropology.  However, when I sent the mss. out to presses, not only did I get two competing advance contracts, I ended up getting an actual ADVANCE from the press.  This is practically unheard of for young academic writers peddling scholarly monographs.  The reason?  My book was provocative. It was original.  It had some naughty pictures.  I ignored the negative comments in my department.  And while I was absolutely committed to the project as a scholarly project  – based on the highest standards I could muster of ethnographic fieldwork, theoretical engagement, and disciplinary contribution —  I also wrote it to sell.  And, while it was published in 2001,  in 2015, I am still getting a (microscopically small) royalty check!

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My Top Five Tips for Turning Your Dissertation Into a Book–A Special Request Post — 64 Comments

  1. while I absolutely agree with your advice–and I realize the process is idiosyncratic–it is pitched to a graduate student rather than an assistant professor in the throes of the manuscript revision. any more nuts and bolts advice?

    • Dear Junior TT, thanks for asking. If you have a specific obstacle that’s afflicting you, please tell me what it is, and I’ll respond.

      For now, I do have one piece of nuts and bolts advice for the TT folks, that trumps all other advice, in fact all other advice put together, which is: you must get leave from teaching to write the book. You cannot do it while maintaining a full teaching schedule. It is, actually, impossible. So, if you’re not actually staring down the barrel of year 5, then take a break, and apply for grants. Even one-term or one-semester internal grants can put you over the top. I myself ended up with 2 full years of leave, which is how I both wrote a book and had two children (!) but in any case, schedule in preliminary time to ensure that you are released from teaching to write the book. If you do not succeed in gaining funding, then ask your Head/Chair for a special dispensation. A good department and Head will release junior faculty from teaching to get their publishing done.

  2. Karen,

    While I find most of your advice useful, I was wondering if you could talk a bit more about “knowing your market” (#3 and #1, to some extent). I work on literature, and based on my experience (both as an undergraduate and as a teacher of undergraduates), we rarely, if at all, read secondary criticism in our courses. So I am having trouble trying to imagine how to pitch my book for an undergraduate audience/class. I understand your point about obscurity and also the need to make my research, however specialized, accessible to a broader audience, but I’d appreciate if you could write about this point more.


    • Maria, OK. I would approach this a couple of ways. I’d find out what other books have recently come out from major univ. presses that are similar to yours. I’d study them to get clues about their length and density and jargon level. Id’ study their match with the press that published them–what are the clear emphases of different presses, and which matches your project best? Figure out the most likely “best match” press for your mss. and look at their most recent spring and fall lists. Figure out what their current orientations are, and speak DIRECTLY to those in your mss. Don’t bury them in chapter 4. Find a way to refer to them in the Intro, and to cast your project in that light as you think about the cover letter you’ll submit to the press.

      Second, You HAVE to include a discussion of “market research” in any cover letter that accompanies your mss. to a press. So, here, if your market is not undergrad classes, then what is it? I’d move up to graduate seminars, and finally of course to the scholarly fields your project speaks to. You are far, far, better off if your book intervenes in several fields rather than just one. You want to be able to say, “this book will have an impact on, and be adopted for courses in, fields as varied as women’s studies, comparative literature, media studies, and global studies.” You also have to say what other book(s) your book is “similar to.” So figure that out, and figure out how that book was marketed by its press.

      There is a LOT of detective work that you can do to figure out how to situate your work within markets, and also how to subtly adapt your book mss. to meet the emergent needs of the market.

  3. Thankfully, I am only entering year four and I have a fellowship year up ahead that I won in a national competition. Otherwise I would be (much more) terrified.

    My problem is finding quality mentorship about book writing beyond: you need to get your book done (from my third year review) and “you just need to sit and write it” (which is all ever anyone tells me when I ask them about their process, like it was magic or something). Again, although I realize the diss to book process is different for everyone, it could use a little more demystification.

    Everyone told me over and over again not to worry when I was writing my diss that it was “not a book,” to hurry up and “get it done” because “you got job, so you don’t have to worry about it.” Well, believe me it is definitely “not a book” and I am unfortunately facing that music right now the hard way. You do, eventually, have to “worry about it.” However, even a few years in, I feel as ill prepared to write a book as I once did starting the diss. I am a hard worker and I write every day, but I am frustrated to be dealing with similar issues as I did during the diss–the fumbling, the confusion, the dead ends, rough prose–but without a committee whom I can talk to about my progress or whether or not I am on target in terms of quality, my timeline, or to help me with questions like–is my project too ambitious? do I need to add that historical chapter? etc.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on getting the most out of a fellowship on that critical 4th year–as well as what a *realistic* revision timeline looks like for a diss that needs a lot of TLC. It is so easy to get bogged down and get discouraged because things aren’t progressing fast enough–and the unrealistic goals I set for myself don’t help. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: How To Write A Book Proposal |

  5. I finished my dissertation last April, and I very quickly received requests from two European publishers to turn my dissertation into a book. I was thrilled about this, knowing I had VERY FEW publications. My advisor and another committee member were not so keen on this “dissertation-turned-book” idea, saying it would be better to publish several articles from the dissn. They also had reservations about the publishing houses. In fact, when I did not reply quickly enough, one publisher became a bit pushy about sending my manuscript. I politely declined the offers of both publishing houses, only to get yet another offer from a third publisher (who had bought one of the other publishers).

    After reading your blog, I wonder if I made a mistake? Should I have converted my dissn to a book? Thanks!

    • this is an excellent question. And like all excellent questions, it doesn’t have a single easy answer. The main issues here are to me, that you mentioned that the publishers are European publishers. You do’nt mention your field or where you are based and hope to work. If your field is some form of European studies, and/or you are based in Europe or hope to work in Europe, then those publishers might be a reasonable choice. But if you are based in the U.S. and want to work in the U.S., then you most likely made an excellent choice in not accepting their offers.

      Don’t accept the first offer of publication that comes your way!!!! Especially for your book! Play hard to get! And yes, go the hard route–the route of actually publishing a few articles as peer reviewed pubs, and then writing up a proposal for the book and submitting it to the very top presses in your field, most likely based in the United States. This is all time-consuming and difficult and carries more risk of rejection at various points. But the rewards are the REAL rewards, the big rewards, the tenure track jobs and the major fellowships and promotions. A book published by some little-known press does not carry a lot of weight as a tenure-book in the U.S., and it can’t give you the street-cred and the exposure/credibility that articles from the top journals and a book from the top press can.

      Many, many students of my acquaintance have fallen prey to the siren song of the eager publisher anxious to publish their book, and thrown away their primary claim to fame on a publisher that nobody’s heard of, and that doesn’t have the wherewithall to actually promote and advertise the book. And then they are crushed and wonder why even with a book they aren’t getting shortlisted for jobs. That is why. The status of the publisher matters. Go for the very, very best that you can.

  6. Can you publish parts of your dissertation as articles and still publish it later as a united book? Or is it an either/or question?

    • Typically you can get 2 articles out of the book, and in fact you *should* get two articles out of the book (ie, two of its chapters) because putting those out early in high profile journals gives you name recognition and clout when you shop the book to presses. More than two, and you start getting in trouble because presses don’t want to publish a (first) book that isn’t substantially new material. So in the case of a typical 5 chapter book, two chapters out as articles is the baseline to aim for. Of course everyone’s case will be slightly different, and if you have related material that is on the topic but not used in the book, definitely put that out to journals as well.

      • Have you heard about publishing more chapters in other language, that is, two in English and one or two more in other language? I’d assume editors won’t care, since the non-English article won’t be considered duplicate by librarians, but I’m not sure.

  7. Are there any benefits to self-publishing in the absence of a traditional publisher? Competition for publication in Peer-reviewed sites can be a factor. What about publishing on Scribd and others? What are the benefits and downsides? If nothing else, it gets me found on the web besides in Rate-my-professor.

    • Responses coming in on Twitter and FB: innovative online publishing/blogging is increasingly valuable for exposure, etc., but self-published books will play no real role in establishing an academic reputation. The issue comes down to peer-review.

  8. Pingback: Turning my dissertation into a book « Dr. Stacey Margarita Johnson

  9. I wrote my dissertation on seven working class girls in a deindustrialized urban neighborhood as they made the transition from 8th grade to high school. A university press said they are VERY interested in it, so I am busy this summer rewriting it as a book. What do I do with the literature review? What do you mean by folding it into the introduction or sections?

    • You want to remove the lit review for the most part, as that is one of the hallmarks of a dissertation that must be removed from the book. However, it is certainly valuable to refer briefly to work on the subject that plays a role in your analysis, so you’d break off chunks of it, and put some in the intro as appropriate, and/or some in the various chapters where they are relevant. But you don’t want a big fat tacky “lit review” chapter, or even whole section of a chapter, as that is a thing to leave behind in graduate school.

  10. Hi,

    I’m in my last year at university and I chose to write a dissertation. There aren’t many books in the area I’m researching. Once I finish my dissertation, do you reckon it would be possible to publish – considering I’ll only have done an undergraduate degree and no masters/PhDs?

  11. I wrote my dissertation back in May of 2009. My mother passed away quite suddenly during fairly routine heart surgery a few months later. It was devastating; she was my best friend. My father starting dating a neighbor three weeks later and this woman hates my sister and me. She stole many of my mother’s things, and convinced my father to sell the rest along with my family home, all without telling us. They moved to another town, and now I barely speak to my father. I tell you all this to explain why I was derailed when I should have been publishing chapters from my dissertation. I presented a couple of chapters at conferences, and received a positive response. I exchanged information with a fairly reputable publisher, but by the time she tried to get in touch with me, I was in a black fog. That was three years ago. Can I recover from this? Is it over for me?

    • I believe you can recover from this if you want to; you just have to start building up the record now that would have happened then, without the trauma. That’s difficult but doable.

  12. Dear Karen,
    If you have a four-chapter dissertation that you are turning into a book manuscript, is it still advisable to publish two out of four of the chapters as peer reviewed articles?
    Many thanks

  13. This is all excellent advice, thanks. I was wondering if you could also provide some more details on the actual structure of the all-important book prospectus? I’m working on one now.

  14. Hi Karen,

    Thank your for advising about publishing a dissertation as book. In my case, my dissertation was an exploratory study about the effect of ethics education on undergraduate accounting students in an African country, where ethics is not taught in accounting-related programs in public colleges. There a lot of studies published on this subject matter; but, none of those was conducted and/or published in such a country. Now, I am wondering whether to publish my entire dissertation in academic journals or, just publish parts of it as articles. Nevertheless, I am also wondering if it is a good idea to have my dissertation published as a book. Honestly, I am a little bit confused. Would you please advise?

    Thank you and best regards,


  15. Hi!
    First, I’d like to thank you for having a blog like this because it’s so incredibly helpful for people like me. I just finished writing a dissertation of my own, and I’m looking to turn this into a book. The whole process seems so daunting that I’m actually wondering if it’s at all possible. Certainly my supervisor and faculty committee have all recommended that I get it published, but I do realise that a dissertation is very different from a book manuscript.
    My dissertation is based on US-China relations in East Asia.
    I’m not currently affiliated to any institution, though I have work experience in the field. My problem is that I don’t know quite how to go about adding anything of value to this, besides updating it and re-writing it to sound peppier rather than pedantic.
    Can you help with this?

    Thank you!


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  17. I have a more practical question. So I am considering turning my dissertation into a book, but this is not something that I considered at the time that I started my dissertation. Although my participants were annonymous and used pseudonyms to protect their confidentiality, do I have to go back and track them down to get their permission…I am specifically thinking if I want to use a direct quote as in example. The participants signed the informed consent for the dissertation and were aware that it would be published as a scholarly journal, but not as a book that could be purchased. Please give me your perspective.

  18. Hi Karen,

    Thank you for this wonderful website. I always find such good advice here. I am finishing my dissertation and applying for some jobs and postdocs at the moment. My issue is that I don’t think it makes sense to revise my dissertation into a book. I think that two of my chapters would be great as journal articles, and I have what I think is a good plan for a closely-related second project that would make a good book. Do you think I have a case for postdocs if I’m proposing to start work on this second project during the postdoc, rather than to revise the diss? My advisor says this is a good plan, but he’s not particularly savvy about the current market. Thank you for your insight!

  19. Hi Karen,

    I’m an MFL teacher in a secondary school in Uk and I got a PhD in E-learning and Applied Linguistics two years ago by now. After the awarding, I went into teaching because I needed a job and now I’d like to (re)start with researching. Unfortunately I’ve got just an article published so far and I need to publish more in order to start looking for jobs in (US) University field. When I got my Phd, the Viva external supervisor suggested me to publish one chapter of my dissertation, and now I’d like to start from there. I’m doing some research, in order to update my potential article, but I’m a little bit “rusty” and I’d need some general advice on how to publish and how to start to go into teaching at University with a postdoc, visiting assistant professor, no tenure-track position, etc. . I would like to write the article in English (the dissertation is in a foreign language) to make it internationally interesting. First, do you think is it possible to me start presenting my proposals as independent researcher? Unfortunately not being affiliated with any University, I don’ t have a mentor/advisor. Second, how can I know which are the major academic press in my field? (I know, it is a silly question, but that’s is). Would it be indicated starting with a peer-reviewed journal? Thank you in advance, Karen. Any further advice/suggestion it will be more than appreciated. (And I know, first think I should improve my English, of course 😉

  20. Dear Karen,

    I wanted to ask you about the practice of publishing journal articles out of your dissertation before sending a book proposal. In what way do the already published ‘chapters’ support or compromise your case for a book proposal? In a sense, publishing articles helps you have a wider dialogue and improve the quality of the dissertation by taking it beyond the advisor/committee, but in another sense, it puts part of your book already out there. Can we say that as long as these articles are published in reputed journals, you are reinforcing your case for book publication? Any thoughts on this subject would be extremely helpful.

  21. Could you tell us how to send the book out to presses? When I see a “provocative” book that I think my book has the potential to be, and then i look at the publisher, and then I go to the publisher website, it always says that they accept the books only through an agent. How did you approach publishers? I assume you did not use a book agent. I’m a bit confused about this process of approaching publishers with the proposal.

  22. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for offering so much insight through your blog. I have completed my book proposal for my phd thesis that i have been working on for some time. I need to include a sample chapter. I was thinking to include one of my empirical chapters that are the core of the discussion. I have removed some sections that will not appear in that book chapter. However i was wondering do i need to fully present the chapter as it will appear in the book? Changing the language to a less academic one and relating the discussion to wider issues will take quite a bit of time. I look forward to your res ponce. Thank you so much. Stratis

  23. Part of this seems like good advice, but part seems just awful. The goal of having your first book be aimed at undergraduates seems terrible, and I can’t imagine wanting to hire or tenure someone who seems to be doing that. Is “The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job” aimed at undergraduates? It’s bad to write something only 10-15 people want to read, but fine to write something that 500-2000 will read, as long as you’re not depending on royalties for your income.

    It’s as though you were giving advice about how to write scripts for films, and you said “try to dumb it down so you can sell it as a made for TV movie.”

    • I think you are missing her point – she isn’t saying ‘dumb it down’. She makes it clear her own manuscript was written to the highest standards of the discipline and field. She is saying writers should increase the readability of their texts. Write the manuscript to high standards of scholarship, but if you are writing in a way so jargon-filled and obscure that an undergraduate can’t read it, you should have cause for pause. Even University Presses can no longer afford to lose money on books written for only 15 scholars in a feild, no matter how fine the work. All authors submitting manuscripts to scholarly presses now have to think about reaching the widest possible audience – it is far better for a press if the book at least breaks even on the sales of a book

  24. Greetings,
    I wrote a dissertation in late 2013. Thinking about submitting in academic arena but not sure how to do so.
    Appreciate any suggestions.

  25. I defended my PhD thesis in 2014 and received the top grade. It was recommended by my opponent / examiner that I turn the thesis into a book. The dissertation was in a way already a book (both in some print versions and as a permanent link to an electronic database, but it would be legitimate to write a book for another publisher, so that is not the problem). The problem is that I was so sick of the PhD work and (over?)eager to start on my postdoc that I procrastinated with the book revision (i.e. making the the thesis more about the theory and less about individual novelistic analyses) that I wonder whether it is too late. At the moment what little time I have left from a university lectureship ( a VERY teaching-intensive job description) goes to my postdoc monograph and I cannot focus on two research projects at once. Which should I prioritize? The PhD thesis can be located by other researchers quite easily, but it is still a dissertation, not a “real” book -even though it is well written per se.

  26. Pingback: From Dissertation to Book: A Few Things I Learned Over the Past 10 Years – History From Below

  27. Hi Karen,

    I wonder if you can reassure or advise me. I started researching and writing a book nearly 20 years ago. I found myself unable to access academic literature and so embarked upon a PhD. My intention, when undertaking the PhD was always to write the book. My supervisors were supportive of this and the thesis passed without correction last year at a Russell group university in the UK last year.
    Since then I have been writing a book proposal for my ideal publisher (with whom I have already published) and adapting the thesis. I have cut out the methodology chapter, integrated relevant parts of my (discursive) literature review into the body of the text, and am in the midst of writing a new introduction. My substantive chapters have fallen quite easily into shorter chapters that I think more appropriate to the practitioner readership I want to reach. Apart from these changes, the thesis and proposed book are pretty much identical.
    I was very worried, when discovering, during the thesis submission process, that my thesis would be made available online. I embargoed the online version for a year, and was (verbally) assured that the university library would seek my consent before making it available.
    I was really, really upset to discover this evening that not only have they not honoured this assurance, but that I didn’t even have to go through an academic website to access my thesis in its entirety.
    As you so rightly point out, publishers are interested only in commercial viability. Despite reassurances from my supervisor, I fail to understand why a publisher would be at all interested in publishing a book so closely based on a document that any Tom, Dick or Harry can access in seconds.
    I’m not interested in an academic career and only undertook the PhD in order to support my book. I’m really worried that in doing so I made a really big mistake.

    • My advice is to proceed with the proposal and the revised manuscript and just see what happens. Most people really don’t know how to, or want to, access “published dissertations” and they aren’t nec. competition with your published book. I would not disclose to the press anything about this. It’s their job to do due diligence. Just proceed with your publishing plans.

  28. Dear Karen,

    I’ve stumbled upon your website by sure luck as I’ve been having some trouble finding specific information to my predicament. I’m a freelance newspaper journalist and have been writing for quite some time, I’ve sort of created a signature style for myself in my local newspaper and I’m quite fond of it. I’ve been approached by a professor to turn her dissertation into a book, it’s a historical recount on the style of clothing in a specific geographical area. I somehow as able to turn the paper into an actual book, a readable book instead of a research paper, but I seem to have one problem. What do I do with footnotes? I’ve excluded the names of authors within the text itself and just added a subscript number, but where should I place the footnotes in the book? Do I have them all added up at the end of the book? Do I add them at the end of every page as footnotes?

    It’s my first time turning a dissertation into a book and I’m still figuring out the ins and outs, I’ve edited it a number of times to perfect the written word, to make it easier to understand and I hope I was able to achieve it. The footnotes are a problem that I can’t seem to figure out. Do you have any advice I can use please?

    • This is something you shouod discuss with the author, but basically you’re deciding between footnotes or ENDnotes (where they are all at the end) and given that you’re aiming for a very readable book, endnotes are probably the way to go. But again, this will also hinge on the publisher’s requirements as well. If you don’t want to ask the author but want to present her with a finished doc, then do endnotes. Also, please be aware that WordPress and any other word processing programs, have an endnote/footnote function that will put in the subscript number and automaticlaly open the endnote/footnote space to type in.

  29. Dear Karen,
    I just stumbled over your website while searching for information and advice on publishing. Few weeks ago I successfully earned my PhD from one of the top UK universities. My examiners were very happy with the quality of work and recommended that it would be good if I publish it as a book since my career interest is not in the academia at the moment.
    When I started my research that was not part of my idea but with the interest it generated from my supervisors and examiners, it is something worth considering. My work is a qualitative research. I will be keeping tab with you for more professional guide on how to kick start getting it turned into a marketable book.
    Thanking you in advance for your wonderful assistance.

  30. I’m so happy to have stumbled on this page. I have a real practical question about transforming the dissertation into a book manuscript. Some of the advice here suggests that it’s fine to include 1-2 peer-reviewed journal articles from the dissertation as book chapters (with the journal’s permission, of course). But what about a journal article from your dissertation that may be a co-authored piece?

    For example, one dissertation chapter I was fortunately able to transform into a published article with much help from my advisor and so the piece became a co-authored article. If I receive permission from the journal to use it for a book chapter though then do the personal pronouns in the article remain intact in the book manuscript (e.g., “we” rather than “I”)? Do I state that this one chapter is a co-authored chapter and keep all the language the same in that chapter as t appears on the article (copy and pasting the journal article, word-for word)? I don’t think I’ve seen that before in a monograph but this is new terrain for me. Or is there typically wiggle room to change the language of that particular chapter to better fit with the book as a sole authored piece while still referencing the co-authored published article?

    I think it would be odd if the book shifted from one chapter where “I” might be suggesting X to then mention that “we” are suggesting X. Yet at the same time my co-author for the article helped me further articulate such ideas for the dissertation chapter to actually be published as an article and I want to give credit where credit’s due. Thank you!

  31. Would these tips still apply for independent scholars who have a master’s degree but no PhD (and aren’t interested in obtaining one)? Or should people in that category look to scholarly trade?

  32. Hi Karen,
    I have an issue that has not been addressed anywhere on your blog yet. I am 7 months out from finishing my Ph.D. and finishing my book proposal while still on the market. The press asks for a competing texts section. I’ve discovered that a tenured professor included the original argument that I made previously in a peer-reviewed article in her book several times while claiming that she was the first to make it. An entire chapter is almost verbatim.This book was published by a highly esteemed academic press. My question relates to the competing texts section of the proposal that the press asks for given that there are only a handful of books that compete with my (heavily) revised and expanded dissertation. Do I critique her book or point out that she was not the first to come up with the idea in the proposal when comparing how her book differs from mine OR do I leave her book out altogether? How do I handle this in my competing books section? Based on my research, there is no point in publicly calling the scholar out as professors in her position are untouchable and it would only serve to hurt my career. Since there are only a handful of competing books, I don’t want ignoring her book from such a major press to seem like an oversight to the press. I found this, but it does not help me with the nuts and bolts of navigating my proposal: Thoughts?

  33. Pingback: February Blogroll: Book Visions Edition – Bite Thumbnails

  34. To figure out how to work in some of my lit-review-y type things, I picked first books from people I’d known as grad students (who got good contracts), and then compared them to the dissertations – which I could download or consult in the school’s library. Very useful!

  35. Hi Karen:) I feel somewhat overwhelmed as I am unsure of what to do with my dissertation manuscript book. Would it serve best broken down and published as articles? Is it best to pitch it to publishing companies? Please advise.

  36. Pingback: Tackling Revisions | GradHacker | Education| Day and Night News

  37. Pingback: Tackling Revisions

  38. wow
    good for you! I had a quick question–i am interested in turning my dissertation into a commercial paperback book, like something you would pick up in the airport, as my field site is a popular vacation destination…I want to impact average Americans and not necessarily scholars…any advice on what steps to take?

  39. Hi Karen,
    I have a more specific question about writing the introduction to a book. A lot of the books I read as a medical anthropologist have extensive and theoretically thorough introductions that draw on large bodies of existing theory, laying out for you how this particular book builds on existing work on , for example, subjectivity, the state, personhood, liberalism , or whatever. These intros can be helpful for giving student readers a sense of the field (which maybe publishers will like, thinking about the student market?), but they can also be long and boring. Other books have tiny introductions that just get straight to the author’s point, and don’t worry so much about engaging other people’s work. I tend to like this second approach, not because it’s less work, but because you can jump right in and develop your own ideas. it feels liberating. But my hunch is that you’re only allowed to do the second strategy if you’re already a famous scholar. I’m writing my first book, based on my dissertation. What would you advise?

    • this is advising beynond the scope of a blog comment response. I suggest you consider working with a developmental editor about this, and if you want names, email me.

  40. Hi!, am a publisher and have been approached by many scholars who want to turn their dissertations to books, i want to gain some valuable skills in doing this kind of work to offer them some assistance. I would like to get a mentor to assist me in case you know of some one, kindly help me

  41. Hi there,
    I think your article is fantastic and really interesting but I had a further question for you.

    I have just finished my degree in Business Administration (finished at 84% with dissertation mark as 90/100), and I have just accepted an offer to become a lecturer at an FE college. When I submitted my dissertation proposal to my tutor at the college, he asked me if I wanted to publish the research with him as a book (he’d be a co-author). I was ecstatic at this idea but now that I’m starting a career in education I’m wondering if this isn’t the right thing to do. Do you think this is a good idea?
    I have no real understanding of publishing research and I’ve been working as an administrator for the most part of my career, only now going down the route of lecturing. My newer long term goals are to get into lecturing at a university after getting my master’s and then working up through the chain. Do you think publishing this piece of work through my college now would be a mistake? The college has just won an award for being a very successful college so they have a good reputation but I’m not sure what publishing now would mean to me and my career?
    Sorry for long winded question! I don’t know if this helps but I am 22, living in England and my dissertation topic is; Attitudes towards unfulfilling employment: A generational analysis.
    Thank you so much! 🙂

  42. Pingback: From Dissertation to Book: Advice for Future Authors | Beyond PhD Coaching

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