Manakin Press is a place where new authors can find a place to bloom. We like to provide every possible bit of support to young talent. This includes guidance to first-time authors, like scholars who are interested in publishing a thesis. While there are quite a few mistakes that can plague the process of converting a thesis into a book that discussion is for a different post. The first question that needs to be answered is if publishing a dissertation is even possible.
There might be a number of questions that a young scholar might have about the possibility of publishing their thesis in the form of a book. Some of these have been addressed here.
1) Can I publish my thesis in the form of a book if it has never been published before?
Yes. If your dissertation has never been published in part or whole in any journal, you can publish it as a book with no problems. It might be a good idea to check with your university as some might insist on some sort of ownership over work that was done while with them. It is, however, rare and normally does not affect your right to publish your thesis as a book. In some cases, they might want it on their online database but will be amenable to you publishing it commercially as well. Even such case does not affect your decision to print your dissertation as a book.
Any written work that you have done yourself is your intellectual property and you have the right to reproduce it in any form. You will have to make sure that the content is rewritten when publishing a thesis in form of a book. The language and content of a dissertation is completely different from what would be acceptable in a book. Also, any content that is not yours would need permission from the relevant party.
2) Can I publish my thesis if I have made it available online?
Yes. Content that is freely available online, or Open Source, is content that can be copied or reproduced without permission. This is generally done by publishing a thesis on repositories or open access journals.
Most publishers will not have a problem if you have put up your dissertation online. Their main concern is how well you can convert the content into a more commercial format. When printing a thesis as a book, publishers look for simpler writing without the academic jargon so that it is suitable for a wider audience.
Also, a major part of the dissertation would need to be removed as it would only weigh the book down. This means removing the methodology as well as quite a bit of the literature review. This means that publishing a dissertation in book form would mean the end result is vastly different from the source material. Because of this, the free availability of the unedited dissertation would not affect the book’s sales.
3) Is publishing a thesis possible if parts of it were published in a journal?
While publishing your dissertation is still possible, in such a case, you would need to get permission from the publishers to use that content. Commercial publishing, even if it is an extract in a journal, usually means giving the reproduction rights to the publisher. This obviously means their permission is needed if you want to publish that part. However, this is normally just a matter of asking for written permission before publishing a thesis.
In a case where the publishers of the journal are the same ones who have accepted your book offer, this step might even become redundant. Since they are the ones with reproduction rights for those parts, publishing your thesis would not be a problem for them.
4) Do I need permission for publishing a thesis with copyrighted content?
Yes. Any content, whether illustrations, photographs, or extracts from other people’s writing would need permission from the owners. Doing your research in such a case would be helpful. Certain content might be public domain in which case no permission is needed. Also, there is a clause for fair usage where even copyrighted material can be used without permission. In such a case, how you have applied that content in your dissertation will be the determining factor. If you are publishing a thesis with copyrighted content that falls under fair usage, you might not be obliged to get permission from the copyright owners.
5) Is publishing a thesis without editing it a possibility?
No. For converting your thesis into a book, it would need to be edited and rewritten to be more commercially viable. Book readers are generally not interested in the methodology and the amount of literature you studied to support your dissertation. They are more interested in what your idea was and what your opinion is after the research. The more succinctly you can put that across, the more agreeable publishers will be to publishing your thesis as a book.
6) What can I expect when publishing a thesis as a book?
A lot of hard work is what you can expect. The very first step in converting your dissertation into a book is to find a publisher. This in itself is a very important step. In order for the thesis to be accepted, the publishers need to see its potential as a book. It is also important for them to see your ability as a marketable author. This means that your book proposal needs to sell your ability as a writer as well as the idea behind your thesis.
Publishers, when considering your plan of publishing a dissertation as a book, look at how well you can present your point. This includes you being able to tell them in a couple of paragraphs what your idea or book concept, is. They look for how concisely and comprehensively you can explain your idea. It is on the basis of this that they would ask you to send them your book’s first chapter. This makes your book proposal the single most important document for publishing your thesis.
Once you have submitted a successful book proposal that has hooked the publishers, you will then need to submit one chapter of your proposed book. This chapter is a screenshot of how your book is going to read. It also tells them how popular or marketable it will be. How simply you can put your ideas across determines how many people will read your book. The more complicated the language, the fewer the number of people who would understand it. This affects the volume of sales.
Even after the publishers have offered you a contract for publishing your thesis, you will be required to rewrite or at least rearrange most of your dissertation. You will be expected to send in the specified number of chapters every month. Your editor will work closely with you and may ask you to make several changes before even the first draft is complete.
Publishing a thesis as a book may not be a good idea for everyone. In fact, it is recommended that after completing your dissertation, you should wait a while. If after a brief hiatus, you still think it will make a good book, be prepared for a lot of work. In such a case, having a supportive book publisher like Manakin Press can make a huge difference. It is easy to get disheartened by the work and feedback, but with the right publishers, you can end up publishing your thesis as a successful book.