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Research Guides

Submit and Publish Your Thesis

Turning Your Thesis into a Book

“A dissertation is a report, a book tells a story”

Turning a thesis into a book means more than simply printing and binding your thesis as is. Neither will it be a quick touch up or superficial revision. Your book manuscript will likely mean a substantial rewrite of your thesis. Consider the following aspects that will need to change:

Your audience

The audience for the thesis is mainly your committee whereas for a book it may be fellow researchers, professionals working in the field, policy makers, educators, or the general audience. The majority of your readers will be less familiar with your topic than was your supervisor and will be more interested in the bigger picture than in the methodological details.

Your goal

A book has a different purpose from a thesis. A thesis is meant to demonstrate your mastery of the subject and research process. A book is an opportunity to discuss the implications of your research to the larger community. The way you define an audience for your book will directly affect its goal and vice versa.

The structure of your thesis

A book’s structure will be different from that of a thesis. You will need to thoroughly re-order your work into chapters. In particular, the Literature Review and Methodology sections would be shortened drastically or incorporated into the introduction. Copious footnotes typical for a thesis could be transformed into stories.

Your voice

The voice you use for a book is different from the academic voice in your thesis. You will want to edit out the academic jargon, complex sentences, lengthy paragraphs and passive voice. Be ready to show your own voice and clearly say what you think.

When looking to publish a book you would normally follow these steps:

  1. Select a press

    Start by selecting a press that would be a good fit for your topic and audience:

    • Look at your own bookshelf - where have authors published on similar topics?
    • Check presses’ lists in your subject area
    • Consider academic vs commercial publishers
    • Get in touch with acquisition editors at the presses you are looking at to check if your idea will be of interest
  2. Prepare your book proposal

    • Think of your proposal as a pitch that communicates the book’s value in terms of content and your value as the subject matter expert
    • Follow press’s proposal guidelines. Normally a proposal would include:
      • Problems or pain points that the book addresses
      • How the book addresses these pain points and what value it provides to the reader
      • A proposed title
      • Market research evidence that there is a need and niche for the book
      • Contents page
    • A proposal can be submitted to more than one press. Once you get a book deal, commit to that press and discontinue negotiations with other presses.
  3. Negotiate and sign the contract

  4. Other tips from book publishers

    • Having an article published from your thesis may be a good starting point to get a book deal. However having too many chapters published may be a turn off for a press that looks for original content.
    • Consider the timing of publication for your academic career. It takes a while for a book to be written, published, distributed and read. If you would like to proceed with an academic career upon graduation and have reviews of your published book ready for inclusion in your tenure portfolio, you will want to start looking into publishing as soon as possible.

Additional resources on converting your thesis into a book: