Publishing the Dissertation as a Book

*See William Germano, From Dissertation to Book (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005)

(and his Getting It Published as well, though it is more general)

-see his article, “Getting It Published” in PMLA 115.5 (2000) 1053-60.

-the dissertation is a genre unto itself—it is written for an audience of about 5 people (your assessors); its form and tone are therefore rather “defensive” for you will be “covering yourself” from known angles of vulnerability; it must show your competence within and command of a field (hence its abundance of footnotes)

-most people (after taking a break and letting the thing “mature” and settle in their minds) feel the need to revise after the final oral examination and the readers’ reports (publisher’s readers’ reports will demand further revisions, of course–there are a number of stages of rewriting here)

-the publishing process is a long and slow one: from submission of manuscript to readers’ reports alone can often be a year or so; final decision, copy editing, proof-reading, indexing, production can take another 1-4 years.

-consult with supervisor and other experts in the field about appropriate presses both within Canada and outside; check which publishers have recently published books in your area

-see MLA Directory of Scholarly Presses and the Association of American University Presses Directory for names of editors, lists of series, submission requirements

-proof-read and check all references once again and prepare a (very) “clean” copy for the publisher

-send an extended abstract (called a “prospectus”) of the (now) book, a table of contents, a description of the work’s scholarly importance and intended audience, your CV, and a letter of inquiry to a range of appropriate presses and wait for replies; add stamped self-addressed envelopes (or international postal reply coupons) for return of manuscript.

-the usual practice is to send the full manuscript to only one press at a time, if you are lucky to get more than one letter of interest in return; however, some presses are willing to read a ms even if another press has first consideration.  Be above board with everyone concerned.

-be prepared for another round of rewriting; if, however, you disagree with some of the recommendations, you can try to argue for retaining your version.  In replying to readers’ reports, never get defensive; always express your appreciation for the readers’ assistance and care in reading!

-be prepared for more work: proof-reader’s questions have to be answered in detail; page-proofs have to be checked carefully; indexing must be done (by you)

Linda Hutcheon