So, you’ve written a dissertation. Congratulations! But how to turn it into a book? This workbook.
The Dissertation-to-Book Workbook uses targeted exercises and prompts to take the guesswork out of writing a book. You’ll clarify your book’s core priorities, pinpoint your organizing principle, polish your narrative arc, evaluate your evidence, and much more. Using what this workbook calls “book questions and chapter answers,” you’ll figure out how to thread your book’s main ideas through its chapters. Then, you’ll assemble an argument, and finally, you’ll draft any remaining material and revise the manuscript. And most important, by the time you complete the workbook, you’ll have confidence that your book works as a book—that it’s a cohesive, focused manuscript that tells the story you want to tell.
Indispensible to anyone with an academic manuscript in progress, the prompts, examples, checklists, and activities will give you confidence about all aspects of your project—that it is structurally sound, coherent, free of the hallmarks of “dissertationese,” and ready for submission to an academic publisher.
Field Tested on More than 200 Humanities and Social Science Books!
We’re Katelyn and Allison, and we have years of experience helping scholars navigate the messy process of writing books. We met in graduate school and became friends and writing partners. Katelyn is an associate professor of French at the University of Central Arkansas, and Allison is a developmental editor who works with academic clients. Based on her experience of writing and publishing her first book with Liverpool University Press, Katelyn created an online curriculum for first-time book authors—what she wished had existed when she was going through the process—and brought Allison on board to help run it as a summer workshop conducted over Zoom.
In the workshop’s subsequent iterations, we tested the core exercises with hundreds of projects, brought to us by authors from all kinds of situations and with a wide variety of challenges. Based on what we learned, we repeatedly revised the curriculum. The result is this workbook. Our careful development process means that this curriculum works for most humanities and qualitative social sciences book projects, regardless of the field, discipline, or author profile. Because we’ve taken so many authors through this curriculum, we’re confident that it’s systematic enough to help you produce a strong, cohesive book project, regardless of what shape your manuscript is in or how well equipped you feel to tackle it. Alums of our workshops have called this process “hugely clarifying.” They often find they can produce a book proposal with ease and can immediately see what to cut and what to keep in their chapters.
But don’t just take it from us! Here’s what some alums and reviewers have had to say:
Testimonials & Reviews
The Dissertation-to-Book Workbook not only succeeds but excels in guiding scholars through this process of revision. This pragmatic workbook walks an author through clear steps to identify the organizing principle of the book, write and revise the book’s central claims, and then ensure that the chapters actually function well together before the author sends the book to a press. Since scholars often only have one opportunity to convince a press to publish their book, working through this process before sending to editors is crucial–and this is an essential guide.– Rebecca K. Marchiel, University of Mississippi
Based on their years of helping academics revise their dissertations into books, Knox and Van Deventer have distilled their incredible depth of knowledge into a beautifully thought-out book that takes you step by step through the process of revising your dissertation. Too many writing books give vague advice without any practical guidance. This is not that book. From advice on crafting your book’s arc and organizing principle to drafting your book questions and producing chapter answers, this book takes all the guessing out of one of the most stressful tasks academics face. This is the best book I have seen on the topic.-Wendy Belcher, author of Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks
Before completing these exercises, I did not feel very confident about my book project. I intuitively sensed that it continued to be a collection of thematically-connected but disparate chapters that didn’t quite come together into one bigger, coherent whole. And I had a hard time truly articulating how the book was different from the dissertation on which it was based. Each time I uttered the phrase “my book project,” I felt like I was bluffing.
All of this changed after I finished the workbook exercises.
After completing the workbook exercises, I was able to draft and submit a book proposal to an academic press within a month (more like three weeks), and it has now been sent out for peer review. Suffice it to say that I had been spinning my wheels doing furtive work on “turning the diss into a book” without much forward momentum for much, much longer than a month.– Literary/Cultural Studies Scholar