Table of Contents
The time and effort you’ve put into your PhD work is extremely valuable, not just for you, but for other researchers. But maybe you’re wondering if your PhD work is of interest to a broader, general audience; perhaps as an academic book, or even a general interest publication. But taking your thesis or dissertation from a journal article to a full-length book is not as easy as sending it as-is to a potential publisher.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the essential steps, and tips for getting your PhD work published as a book.
From Thesis to Book – Things to Consider
Since most PhD work is published as journal articles, there are different things to consider when you weigh your options on future publication of your research. Depending on the scope and breadth of your topic, you may want to just use parts of your dissertation or thesis in a book, or collaborate with other researchers to contribute to a collection of research on a topic. Another option discussed is to turn a thesis into a journal article, as a first step to writing a full-fledged book on the topic.
But if your aim is to publish your PhD research as a full-length book, then there are some things you need to consider. These are the same things a potential book publisher will be looking at as well, as their aim is to connect the work of their authors with their readership. It’s this relationship, between the writer and the reader, that publishing companies value when considering if a book will connect with its audience.
First and foremost, will the book be of interest to a broad section of the publisher’s readers? Secondly, a publisher will consider if the quality of the work is high, especially if their audience consists of scholars, experts and researchers in the field of your topic. And, finally, since the nature of a research thesis requires peer review and detailed analysis of its findings, so will a similar process be needed for a book related to the research. Therefore, the publisher will be asking itself if the work will hold up to the demands of a review by experts in the field.
Whereas a dissertation exists to fulfill graduation requirements, and has an extremely limited audience, a book fulfills a different purpose. That is, to bring the work to a broader audience. Likewise, a book is a much more personal undertaking, where your voice as an author is developed, and even featured, as an important aspect of your writing. The very format of a dissertation compared to a book is like comparing apples to oranges.
How Long Does it Take to Turn a PhD Dissertation Into a Book?
As alluded to above, turning your PhD thesis into a book means you have to adjust many aspects of your dissertation. For example, writing for a broader audience than just your dissertation or thesis committee. This essentially means that you’re rewriting your dissertation, so how long that takes comes down to several factors, including how quickly you work, how much time you can dedicate to the work of editing and rewriting, and if you have support.
It might be best to think of your PhD thesis as an outline of a book, whereas each section in the dissertation is expanded to be of interest to a wider audience. With that in mind, realistically, you should count on at least 18 months to two years, minimum, to transform your dissertation into a book. More if the work is complex and significant additional research is needed, and less if you’re working with collaborators who will contribute to the process.
Five Essential Steps
Turning your dissertation into a book means you’ll have to, in some ways, start from scratch. This includes the title, chapter titles and even references. Your book will be much more readable and personal than your dissertation, and essential pieces of information will be highlighted and expanded.
Step 1 – Titles: The title of your book is the first thing your audience will be exposed to. Likewise, chapter titles can tell the potential reader/buyer much more about the content of the book than even a well-written blurb can. Give some thought to book and chapter titles to help formulate your initial outline of how the book can be structured.
Step 2 – Initial review and editing: Go through your thesis to see how sections of what you’ve already written will fit into the outline that you’ve created using your first draft of chapter titles. Here you’ll probably recognize that you already need to change things up, and that’s ok. This initial review will help you solidify things as you go to the next step.
Step 3 – Additional research: After your initial review, you’ll notice where you need more information to flesh out key aspects of your work. This will also come in handy for quotations by other writers that can help make your writing broader in scope.
Step 4 – Active revision and editing: Now you’re really rolling up your sleeves. This step may very well take the vast majority of the time you need to work on changing your thesis into a book. Here also is where you will be stretching your writing muscles, making your voice much more engaging and interesting than is required for a thesis.
Step 5 – Proposal: You’ll have to submit a proposal to your publisher of choice. This is an additional step all publishers require, and at the very least it should include your working title, keywords, information about the author and/or editor, a description of the book’s audience, background information on the research, benefits to the audience and more. See this article for more information on what to include in a book proposal.
Language Editing Plus
You may already know about our Language Editing Plus services for publishing in research journals, but did you know that Elsevier also provides book editing services? Find out more here, and get started today!