Posts Tagged ‘Publishing’

How to turn your PhD into a book, part 5: the end!

6 January 2010

By Juliana Adelman

I apologise to those of you who have kindly been following this series: it has taken me far longer to get to the end than it should have.  After this post I plan to put all the remarks into a pdf and post that for download on Pue’s.  I hope that someone (or several someones) will then consider adding their two cents and creating a new and improved edition in future.

Perhaps before we consider the final things related to turning the PhD into a book it would be worth outlining the publishing process.  It goes something like this: Read More

How to turn your PhD into a book: part 3, some first revision steps

9 October 2009

By Juliana Adelman

booksI started this series of posts because when I began the project of turning my PhD into a book I would occasionally type ‘turn your PhD into a book’ into Google hoping for some kind of magic.  Perhaps there was a translation engine I could put my text through to save me the agonising pain of revision?  Alas, there is nothing for it except to struggle on, re-reading sentences over and over until you go numb.  With that for a cheery start, I wish I had approached the process in as systematic a manner as I imply below.  It’s hard to be ruthless with your prose without getting discouraged and if you’re not being ruthless I don’t think you’ll accomplish much by way of revision.  Some people certainly have a gift for writing and the rest of us have to make do with revising.  It is hard work and a bit too similar to psychoanalysis to be enjoyable.  The past two posts on this topic have covered aspects of the publishing process, writing a book proposal and choosing a publisher.  In case you haven’t read those posts, I’ll repeat my disclaimer: my only claim to expertise on the subject is that I have successfully navigated the transition from PhD to book (only once, TBTG).  Now we get down to the nitty gritty of actually transforming your academic exercise into a book with an audience of…well at least a few hundred.  The first thing I did was to start taking things out.

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How to turn your PhD into a book: part 2, find a publisher

30 September 2009

By Juliana Adelman

booksThis post assumes you have read part 1 on writing a book proposal.  There are lots of things to consider when looking for a publisher, but probably the most important is whether your book is a match to their list.  First and foremost do your research on who publishes in your particular area, and base your information on RECENT books (not ye olde classics from the 1970s).  In truth, there are probably many publishers which cover your area so once you have a short list you will need to prioritise.  Although I think you can work from the same book proposal, you now need to tailor it to the list of publishers you plan to send it to.  The proposal should look like you are graciously handing them a book which is an ideal match to their list.

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The love song of J. Alfred Proofreader

29 September 2009

Contributed by Myles Dungan

Medieval_writing_deskI’m old enough to have done Latin for the Leaving Certificate at a time when it was de rigeur. I missed out on Greek – I will never know at what cost. Which means I am also old enough to have been taught English grammar and punctuation as an integral part of the learning of that subject. So why have I never managed to quite get the colon or the semi colon, other than in this . . . : ) . . . context? Why am I always confused about words like ‘government’? Do they require a capital letter or should they be represented in lower case? Is it Lord Lieutenant, or lord lieutenant, or even Lord lieutenant, or maybe lord Lieutenant? Perhaps its even Lord LieuTenant. All right, I’m just being silly now. Is it New York Times or New York Times, the Times, or The Times? Well connected or well-connected?  And what do I do about words like ‘sympathise’? I’ve just written the word with a final ‘s’ and my computer programme has changed it to a ‘z’. I will now proceed to creep up on it and catch it unawares, delete the ‘z’ while hollering ‘death to America’ like some crazed Al Qaeda bomber and consign the zed (or is it zee) to my trash. (And yes, I have got English-English as my default but it seems to make no difference) The problem is that if I’m quoting from a 19th century letter, as I am wont to do, the ‘s’ and the ‘z’ seem to be random and interchangeable. Even Gladstone, in personal correspondence, used the form ‘sympathize’  (the computer liked that version). Read More

How to turn your PhD into a book: part 1, prepare a book proposal

17 September 2009

booksBy Juliana Adelman

I should start with some confessions.  First, my only qualification for writing this article is that I have turned my own PhD into a book.  I am not 100% happy with either the PhD or the resulting monograph.  I think probably many first time authors will tell you the same thing.  This is just some advice for people doing solid history research who want to convert several years of effort into an object that others might read.  I reserve the right to give advice which I should have followed, but failed to.  And finally, this is going to be kind of long and probably violate the word limits we’ve set for ourselves.  So if you’re looking for light entertainment, skip to something else.

Deciding your PhD topic

Uh oh, too late for that, eh?  In an ideal world, you would have chosen a PhD topic which was so exciting and interesting that your enthusiasm is undimmed after 3, 4, 5…however many years you’ve been at it.  If you are relatively normal you will be sick of your topic by the time you finish writing the dissertation.  However, you will need to refresh your enthusiasm when you start converting the PhD into a book.  When you defend your PhD you are basically answering the question ‘Why is this work important?’  To sell the book to publishers and readers you also need to answer ‘Why is this work interesting?’  You will need to think of why you thought your topic was interesting in the first place and how it might be made interesting to more than the three people who it was written for.  This sounds simple, but is really quite difficult. To convince a publisher to publish your book you need to offer them a compelling reason and ‘a valuable addition to scholarship’ really isn’t good enough.  You also need to think of your prospective readers and consider what is the most important aspect of your research, what you really want people to take away from reading your book.  Now you are ready to…

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The people’s history

9 September 2009

By Juliana Adelman

Marx daughterA very small item caught my eye in the Irish Times‘s weekend magazineTurtle Bunbury, a freelance historian, is offering to write personal histories on commission.  Those of us who won’t be appearing on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?‘ can still get the same service.  You give him the names and professions of each generation of your family and he will produce an illustrated history.  Essays of undergrad length (2,000 words) cost €495.  A ‘book’ of 25,000 words costs €6,500 plus printing costs.  Genius: you write the equivalent of an MPhil dissertation except you get paid for it.  Compare this to the grants in aid of publication which most of us will be asked to find for academic books and it seems like Bunbury is on to a winner.  Sharpening your pencils?  At almost €4/word this is definitely on the high end for freelance writing.  I understand from a freelance journalist friend that she gets about €0.30/word.   And it’s not like she can just make it all up, she has to do research as well.   Perhaps genealogical research might be somewhat more time consuming, but more than 10 times as difficult? I doubt it.  What are you getting from Mr Bunbury in return for his hard work?  Read More

Are you in or out?

1 September 2009

By Juliana Adelman

GutenbergSo Google Book Search inches closer to world domination.  The deadline for authors to opt out of its settlement (made in the US but applicable worldwide) is September 4th.  Is it the best thing to happen to publishing since Gutenberg or a nasty corporation’s way to squeeze authors and libraries?  I’m really not sure myself.  I wrote previously on the settlement on this blog and how it did not seem to be generating significant interest or debate in Ireland despite the fact that all Irish authors and publishers will be affected by it.  And here we are, with only days til the deadline and still with almost no discussion.  In a new and ironic twist, Microsoft and Amazon have joined forces with some author and publishing groups in a class action lawsuit to prevent Google from developing a monopoly.  A recent article in Vanity Fair highlights the legal complexity of the settlement and the confusion of authors over what to do.  I think this could go on for a very very long time.  I don’t have the legal expertise to spell out the consequences for all stakeholders, nor is a blog probably the place to do so.  Since I last posted on this topic I’ve discovered the American Library Association’s ‘Super Simple Summary‘.  Not quite as simple as advertised, but definitely better than the actual document which is, to my tiny mind, impossible.   Read more

Share and share alike

18 August 2009

By Juliana Adelman

pizza_sharing_slice-723637 I’ve been meaning to post on the subject of sharing research results for some time.  It’s been on my mind as I try to finish up publications from my PhD.  I’ll state my prejudices from the outset: I think Irish historians are bad at sharing.  Everyone involved in Irish history academic circles probably knows the story about how Irish Historical Studies (supposedly) had to change its policy of allowing postgrads to self-report on their PhD topics.  Apparently, students took it upon themselves to grab land in a way not seen since the settlement of the American west.  The website is still up, I can’t tell if this story is true.  However, it is indicative of a general attitude towards research work as your own private territory.  This often continues long after the PhD is finished and the result is, I think, damaging to history in general and a big waste of effort.  Of course people give conference and seminar papers and they also look to publish.  For those students who plan a book of their research, many are concerned about someone else ‘stealing’ their work or publishing on the same sources before they do.  If this is you, then I say have some more confidence in your originality!  But the fact is that not every PhD is going to end up in a publication and even for those that do, there is often material which is left out.  If you DO publish, there are some interested parties who your research will not reach.  So the following list suggests some ways to circulate your research.  In the interest of sharing, I’ve taken some excellent ideas from Joe Cain‘s recent article in Viewpoint, a newsletter of the British Society for the History of Science.  I hope to be able to make his article available here soon.  I think it’s a great reference for all PhDs, recent or otherwise. Read more