Monday, May 11, 2015

Publishing Monographs

As readers of this blog may know, I am beginning a job in academic management in September. However, despite moving into an Alt-Ac role, I want to keep my foot in the door of academia. One way I am going to do this is my continuing to maintain my research output through publications. I already have an article published, and a collaborative book chapter forthcoming, but this summer the goal is to write my monograph proposal to turn my thesis into a book!

My university is great about organising workshops dealing with a wide range of academic publishing. I managed to dig up my notes from a workshop on publishing monographs, and thought it would be good to share what I took from that.

[*note: if your institution offers similar workshops, do attend. They can be invaluable!]

One of the first decisions to face is whether to even publish the monograph, and whether the thesis was better served as multiple articles/

Ultimately, the decision came down to question:

Is the whole greater than the sum of its part?

In my case, I firmly believe that it is important for the thesis to eventually transform into a monograph as it is the first comprehensive survey of an early courtesy text which has never been translated. The thesis simply would not work if divided into multiple parts.

The choice of publisher is obviously an incredibly important one, and one which should be carefully considered. The workshop had this gem of advice:

Stop selling what you have, start selling what they need!

I think this is massively important. You need to know which publishers would be amenable to your thesis and whether it would fit into their publication profile.

The title is also hugely important, as it gives the first impression of your work. Here was some advice I was given on how to rewrite a thesis title:

  1. Less is more
  2. Feelgood factor - upbeat
  3. Situate your work clearly
  4. Macro not micro - be broad in your title
  5. Avoid technical and specialized language
  6. Title: Subtitle -if you do this, know that the subtitle is often dropped by librarians! So think of it as Title [subject area]: Subtitle [this is what I am doing with it]
Other useful things to consider were:
  1. What does your work do that others don't?
  2. Statement about comparable and competing books - know your competition!
  3. What is the unique selling point of this book?
  4. Is there a demand for it?
  5. The importance of the conclusion to give the reader a sense of what it all adds up to and how it will change your field.
Below sums up some of the larger issues about the differences between the thesis and the monograph in terms of content and readership. 


The main thing that I took away from thinking about monograph publishing is that you are NOT SIMPLY publishing your thesis! Significant rethinking of content in relation to audience, as well as being judicious in choice of publisher, is key to success!

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