Getting it published

This is what’s waiting for me on my desk:


You guessed it — it’s time to revise my dissertation for publication. People at the ESSHC conference in Lissabon kept asking me where my thesis was published. Their interest really motivated me to take some action in that department.

I read Germano’s From Dissertation to Book while I was waiting for my delayed plane on the Lisbon airport, and I decided that I need to do what he calls a “deep revision” to turn my dissertation into a publishable book. I need to make my chapters more lucid, strengthen my line of argument, speak more in my own voice instead of that of other critics, and get rid of excess block quotes.

Germano’s book suggests that I don’t contact a publishing house quite yet. He recommends revising the book first, so that I am ready to send it out if a publisher reacts positively to my book proposal. So that is my plan of action now: revise first, then write a brilliant book proposal to sell my Wild Justice: The Dynamics of Gender and Revenge in Early Modern English Drama to a publisher in England or the United States. Ah yes, I probably need a snappier subtitle too.

All practical advice on how to go about turning a dissertation into a published book is greatly welcome!


4 thoughts on “Getting it published

  1. I highly recommend the Germano. I used the article version he published in PMLA some years back to get my Cynic book off the ground, and he has good sensible advice about every stage of the process, which is lengthy, time-consuming, and agitating if you’re on a probationary clock.

    If you need to speed up the process a bit, you could consider showing trusted friends, colleagues, etc. drafts of the proposal while you revise. In fact, your first step toward revision might be the creation of the proposal, then revise toward that goal.

    Good luck,


  2. Concentrate on the proposal…period.

    I write my proposal, have the deal negotiated and receive an advance, long before I write my next book. There’s no reason to waste time on the manuscript if you can’t catch the interest of a publisher with your proposal.

    It helps to not “over think” the process.

  3. Thanks, Dave and Bob, for your advice!

    Dave, I think it’s a great idea to write the proposal first, and to show it to trusted readers while revising. A proposal would need to be very clear on the overall argument of the book, and having a lucid “throughline” (as Germano calls it) really helps in revision.

    Bob, I wish I could negotiate a deal in advance, but with a PhD dissertation, I think matters are slightly different. Publishers simply won’t even look at it, because it usually is not ready for publication. It has all the marks of a dissertation: too much citing of other people’s arguments, a lot of block quotes, and all kinds of side paths that I couldn’t resist taking in my argument. I have to do something about those, but I’ll try not to over think the process!

  4. Pingback: Revising the Dissertation into a Book? « The Long Eighteenth

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