What do you do when you want to turn your research into a publishable piece of scholarship – either a book or a scholarly journal article? Perhaps your thesis was very well received by your dissertation committee and you were encouraged to seek a publisher for it; perhaps you have a research leave or are looking towards tenure or promotion as you progress in your academic career. How do you begin to get the results of your research published? What is the role of the editor, how do scholarly publishers acquire books, what do you need to do to get your thesis ready to submit a book proposal to a scholarly or university press? Every reputable publisher of scholarly books or journals should have a link on its web site related to “manuscript submissions,” but this is pretty cut and dry information. What would be most helpful is if you could actually have a conversation with someone who worked at the press and who was in a position to advise you on what to do. Luckily, several scholarly presses have posted useful videos on YouTube that are just such conversations. Here’s a summary of some of the ones I’ve located so far, I hope you find them helpful:
One of the first videos I’d recommend is from Duke University Press and it’s editor, Ken Wissoker. He discusses how Duke UP decides what kinds of books should be on its list of offerings and the job of the acquisitions editor in getting authors to write those books.
Next, the Canadian website, University Affairs (a clearinghouse for information and advice for the Canadian university community) has posted over 50 videos on YouTube covering all aspects of publishing a scholarly book – choosing between a scholarly and a trade press, what to expect from the review process, what publishers expect in revising a dissertation for submission, and a host of other topics. While some are specifically related to publishing opportunities from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (and so not available for Amercan Ph.D. graduates), many of the videos provide excellent information on how to revise work, how to choose a publisher, royalties, and other aspects of publishing that none of us were born knowing. Here’s a link to the University Affairs You Tube Channel; ranging in length from about 1 minute to about 10 minutes, these videos are worth your time. One succinct one is on turning your dissertation into a book (the first 2:55 of this video mostly deal with Canadian-specific issues, so if you want to skip to that mark on the video you won’t miss anything significant):
What about journal publishing? Duke has a brief video, “Behind the Covers,” on how an issue of a special issue journal, South Atlantic Quarterly, comes to press. It coincides with the recent makeover of the journal under it’s new editor, Michael Hardt, and discusses the process of getting the themed issue from idea to published work.
If you have the time and are more oriented to the social sciences, you might want to look at the series of videos on “How to Publish in a Top Journal“, based on a July 2010 lecture by Professor Daniel S. Hamermesh, of the Economics Department at UT Austin. His presentation at the University of Humbolt was divided into 11 videos discussing a number of factors in publishing in economics, from selecting a topic, to identifying top journals, to the difficulties in getting published in good journals.
For those of you in STEM fields, I recommend my colleague, Christina Chan-Park’s, recent blog post on “Where to Submit an Article.”
There are a number of good books on this subject. For grad students looking to turn their dissertations into scholarly publications you might check out:
- The Thesis and the Book: A Guide for First-Time Academic Authors, from the University of Toronto Press
- From Thesis to Book from the University of Chicago Press
- Revising Your Dissertation: Advice from Leading Editors from the University of California Press
For faculty looking for advice on book publishing take a look at:
- Writing Successful Academic Books from Cambridge University Press
- Handbook for Academic Authors also from Cambridge
- Inking the Deal from Baylor University Press
And for journal articles check out:
- How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper from Oryx Press
- Writing a Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success from Sage Publications
Good luck with your publishing agenda!