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I have just completed a PhD by research, which I think has some merits in being available as a book (This is, of course, my personal opinion). The research cuts across several fields (e.g. sociology, public policy).

I am wondering what I need to do to take the next step.

In particular:

  1. How do you turn an academic piece like the dissertation (which is written for the examiners) into a book (which is for the general public)?

  2. How do I find publishers who specialise in my field?

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10  
Have you asked your advisor about this ? Much like "Don't walk. Run", this could serve as a generic answer for so many questions here :) –  Suresh Jan 9 '13 at 4:38
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What are your goals for publishing. Do you want to make money? Do you want it to count towards tenure? Do you want it to educate the general public? Promote your research? –  StrongBad Jan 9 '13 at 13:01
    
I want to promote my research to (1) make it widely available and (2) to get some kudos for my CV. Unsure how these two goals could be reconciled. –  Javeer Baker Jan 9 '13 at 23:12
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I mean, a PhD dissertation is written for the examiners (with detailed referencing) but a book to educate the public has a more relaxed and reader-friendly style (i.e. less referencing details etc.). –  Javeer Baker Jan 9 '13 at 23:21
    
@JaveerBaker if you start your comments with an @, like I did here, the person will receive a notification. I would say that books for the public don't have a more relaxed referencing style, they just have less detail that needs to be referenced. –  StrongBad Jan 10 '13 at 9:22

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I published my PhD thesis as a book in VDM verlag. It publishes PhD dissertations and working with them is quite easy. The only problem is they put a relatively high price on your book and this might reduce the sale of your book. Due to this problem, I have received no royalty from my book yet. So if you think any other publisher can do better (financially) it is better you consider another publisher. Their publishing strategy is based on printing on demand. It means they publish a few copies of your book and sell them to some big libraries around the world. Then if an individual purchases your book online, they publish it for him as they receive the order.

If you want to publish your book quickly and easily, you may want to use their service.

for more information about their work see Wikipedia on VDM_Publishing or their website www.vdmpublishinggroup.com.

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Thanks for the links. This looks promising. It appears they publish it at no cost to the author. –  Javeer Baker Jan 9 '13 at 23:04
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I disapprove recommending specific publishers on such a wiki, instead general criteria for the choice of publisher should be discussed. Furthermore, I would not recommed the VDM Publishing Group. First, they publish all offered books, there is no quality control. Second, they do not edit books but publish your very manuscript with all possible spelling and layout errors. Have a look at the description of the criticism on Wikipedia! –  non-numeric_argument Aug 14 '13 at 9:40
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VDM does indeed have a very bad reputation around here. Basically, their business model seems to be to approach almost any completed PhD and master's thesis author in some fields and offer them to publish their work as a book. Which, in their case, means putting the PDF up for print-on-demand as is. I would be loath to even call a VDM work as a 'book' on my CV. –  xLeitix Dec 31 '13 at 8:33
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@xLeitix: So why does VDM have a bad reputation? They trust on the decision of the theses committees and publish the work that has been accepted by an academic institution. I don't see why it is a bad practice. IMHO it is only unconventional, not bad. About who calls what on his/her CV: There are many academics who publish journal papers and/or conference papers by paying lofty page charges (because otherwise their work would never get published). And they do not hesitate to list these kinds of publications in their CV!!! So, what is wrong to list a published thesis in the CV? –  Vahid Shirbisheh Dec 31 '13 at 12:00
    
Pay-to-publish is a terrible thing (unless of course its simply a publication fee in a respected journal), and comparing VDM to this only makes VDM look even worse.... –  Behacad Sep 21 at 18:23

Why do you want the book?

  • For prestige?: publishers who contact you, don't do any review and charge high prices will only increase your prestige to those that don't know them (and these are probably not those you want to impress).
  • For dissemination?: why not just put the pdf available (as was already recommended)?. Those who are interested will find it, those who are not will probably not buy a PhD thesis
  • For money?: I doubt you will really make much out of it.

My recommendation: put it as a pdf on your website / your school's dissertation repository. If you see that lot's of people download it, consider an improved version as book.

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In many disciplines (especially the humanities), it is still obligatory to publish a monograph in order to get a PhD. Although, there is shift to cumulated PhD theses with articles in peer-reviewed journals, sociology, at least in Continental Europe, still values monographs. –  non-numeric_argument Aug 14 '13 at 9:50
    
These questions are very important and I suggest they be considered. In my field, a book published by a shady publisher would only make you look worse as an academic. –  Behacad Sep 21 at 18:25

If your university does not require you to publish your dissertation as a book, I would be very reluctant to invest the time needed to get your dissertation published. I would put the PDF of your dissertation on your own website, making it available to everyone who wants to look at it. I would spend the time needed to rewrite your book on writing more peer reviewed articles. Either by publishing chapters from your dissertation, or by doing new research. I think publications are more important than a book, especially for someone like you who still has only a few publications.

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Your first question is quite tricky (to answer and to do). It depends on what you mean by "the public". A version for academics needs little change from a thesis. For students you need to consider how to highlight what can be learnt from your work. For the general general public, you'll have to start thinking about rewriting perhaps quite a bit, keeping your language accessible and building a narrative. As I am in a different field, perhaps some or all of this is already a part of your thesis.

The second question is simpler, who publishes the books that you read for your thesis?

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As a partial answer, Springer used to publish (theoretically) outstanding PhD thesis in Mathematics in its 'Lecture notes in Mathematics' as research monograph. However I do not know how many of the published volumes are Phd thesis. Definitely a (math) thesis requires a lot of polishing and rewriting before publishing.

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After my PhD I got out of a blue email from a publisher and eventually my book ended up published and on Amazon. So sometimes the publisher scouts the theses.

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please provide more guidance! –  Javeer Baker Jan 10 '13 at 23:24

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