Young Ph.D. scholars often find themselves carried away by the idea of getting their dissertation published. Publishing a dissertation as a book is not an unrealistic dream, nor should it be discouraged. However, there are a few pitfalls that most young authors are not aware of. Knowing what to do and what to expect can help keep expectations grounded. This way, there is a lesser chance of getting disappointed and discouraged.
We, at Manakin Press, welcome proposals from scholars who are considering converting their dissertation into a book. Over the years, we have found some of the common mistakes that keep coming back year after year. No matter how good a thesis might be, getting it published is not quite the same as getting it approved by a supervising committee. Here are some of the things to avoid and keep in mind when submitting your thesis to be published.
When Considering Publishing a Dissertation as a Book, Rewrite It like A Book
A dissertation is inherently very different from a book. A book idea may grow out of a dissertation, but in its unrevised form, a dissertation is not publishable. Here is the reason why. Books are written to convey an idea. Dissertations are written to study and analyse an idea. While the idea or the argument is contained within the analysis, it is obscured. A book needs to be readable to a large audience, but a dissertation is only needs to be readable to a very small sub-group of people who specialise in that field.
While in the past, dissertations could be published with the understanding that it might not sell many copies that is not the case now. These days, every published book needs to have a market, even if it is small. Publishing your dissertation as a book and having it sitting in a few university libraries is not enough. Increasing its readability so that it is of some value to more than just the specialists in your field makes it much more attractive to publishers.
In most cases, it is better to use your dissertation idea and start afresh for a book. There is a lot of information that would need to be edited out anyway when printing a thesis as a book. This includes the methodology and most of the literature review. Writing the dissertation would have given you a deeper understanding of the idea in the first place. This should give you all the material you need to publish your dissertation as a book in a more interesting way. Ideally, it should be useful as study material for post-graduate level scholars. If it can be useful to graduate students as well, then that’s even better.
The language used in dissertations is usually dry, which becomes boring to read after a while. While beautiful prose is not necessary when publishing a dissertation as a book, it does help to pique the interest of the reader. An interesting introduction and conclusion that succinctly put across the idea behind the dissertation are also a good way to hook the reader. Overall, it is more important to get the reader interested in reading the idea than it is to cram it full of facts and statistics. While facts and statistics are important, they need to be pared down so the reader is not bogged down by them. In short, when changing your dissertation into a book, make sure it is not boring to the readers.
It Is Better To Be Brief When Converting Your Dissertation into A Book
This might not be a given after the first point, but it still needs to be emphasised separately. A dissertation contains a lot of information that might not have any place in a book. It might have been necessary to show your supervising committee about how much information you gathered during your research. However, when publishing your dissertation as a book, no one wants to read about long-winded details of how you arrived at your conclusion. Omit needless words, as the advice goes.
It probably seems like an odd suggestion considering how many years you spent learning exactly the opposite. The fact remains that while excessively long manuscripts might seem impressive in terms of work done, they will not be read by many. To get people to read it, you would need to make the language interesting and crisp. Get the information across without needlessly adding words. Before you print your thesis as a book, make it read like a book.
Know Your Market before Publishing Your Dissertation as a Book
Every publisher is looking for the next great idea. However, this idea needs to have a market. No matter how brilliant an idea, it has no value if no one wants it. This is why publishers will grab a proposal where the author knows who will buy his book. For this reason, before approaching publishers for printing your dissertation as a book, do a bit of research on where your book could be sold.
Universities and educational institutes are a good starting point. It might help to know if your dissertation idea could be used as reading material. If it can be targeted as a textbook towards doctorate or post-graduate students, that gives it a fairly big market. Similarly, if you make it simple enough for non-academics to understand, the market becomes even bigger. No matter how big or small you think the market is, it is better to know it. This will tell your publisher that you have thought about selling it instead of just printing your dissertation as a book.
It would also help if you had promoters for your books. It is one thing to say you might be able to sell your book in a community. It is another to have active support from that community. It gives the publishers that much more confidence in publishing your dissertation as a book.
Before Making Your Thesis Into A Book, Know What It Is About
There are many instances when publishers receive a book proposal from scholars and it reads no different from a research proposal. Because of the amount of information they have in their dissertation, the authors lose sight of what their dissertation is all about. Before you consider publishing your dissertation as a book, write a proposal that can concisely and briefly say exactly what the book is about.
When publishers get long and verbose descriptions of theses, it tells them that the manuscript is going to be exactly the same. Having the knowledge of a subject is good, but it can be useful only if you can explain it simply. Know what your dissertation is about and be ready to tell others using as few words as possible.
When Publishing Your Dissertation As A Book, Be Ready For Criticism
The role of the supervising committee was to help you accomplish a dissertation that showed off your hard work and knowledge. It might have been a brilliant piece of scholarly work, but might not be suitable as a book. If you have approached a publisher and they have accepted your proposal, it means they like your idea. However, they will want it to be good enough as a book. This might mean multiple critiques and requests to rewrite. This might seem like they are trying to discourage you or attacking your work. However, the very fact that they accepted your proposal should tell you otherwise.
Publishing a dissertation as a book will ultimately cost as must as any other book. Unlike general books, though, this will have a limited viewership. The publishers push for as many sales as possible. This means putting out the best possible product. Since they have enough experience, you should know that whatever changes they suggest are aimed to make the book better.
When Considering Publishing Your Dissertation As A Book, Spend Time On Your Book Proposal
The book proposal is what the publishers use to decide whether they even want to consider your book or not. This gives them all the information about what the book is going to talk about, what educational gap it fills and the market that it would cater to. This is where an academic author needs to work hard to convince them of his book’s viability.
The book proposal needs to be clear and concise. It needs to effectively convey what your dissertation is about. They want to know before publishing your dissertation as a book whether you will be able to communicate with your audience. The best way to demonstrate this is through the book proposal.
While it is incredibly satisfying to see your dissertation published as a book, it is wise to be aware of the requirements. Before approaching publishers for publishing your dissertation as a book, do your homework. Ensure that you work on sending a focused book proposal. Make sure you can concisely and effectively convey what your dissertation is all about. Be prepared to rewrite the information in a manner that is engaging and interesting for the readers. If you can meet these criteria, you have a very good chance of publishing your dissertation as a book.