Producing, dealing with, and surviving a manuscript; a message to authors beginning to scale a mountain.
I want to post this as I am in the final stages of proof reading my manuscript. The publishers have sent it back to me for checking as they prepare to send it to press.
I think for even the most aloof student there is always that lingering knowledge that when you do a PhD, you are basically writing a book. The truth is that you are writing something ‘book length’, you are proving your skill at managing a cogent argument over upwards of 80,000 words. The truth of the matter is that turning a PhD thesis into a book is a miraculous feat.
I never really entertained the idea that my doctoral research would become the basis for a book. However, when the examiners both stressed that the material was worthy of publication, I took it to heart. I realised that if I was going to transform my thesis into a book it would be a mammoth task. I felt knowing the scale of the task would enable me to endure the rough terrain with greater resolve. In part I was right, I did however underestimate the conceptual shift of the task.
I made massive efforts to redraft the text so it was more accessible, less defensive, and more characteristic of a book than a thesis. after the best part of 18 months I had mostly achieved this. But about a third of the text was too academic and needed to be refreshed and made accessible. This is when I embraced on supplementary research and injected some fresh perspective into the text.
In truth the process of reproducing a manuscript from a PhD is pretty much like doing another PhD. It is hard work and you do not have the same structure of support or guarantee of a final award.
William Germano’s book about how to get ‘serious books’ published was a huge aid. I recommend this whole heartedly to anyone considering a similar endeavour. I also encourage you to carefully consider some of his polemic wording. In the melodrama, there is much experience and good advice. I also got some excellent feedback from other academics, people who had actually published books. Their insights were invaluable.
I shall also make a post soon that gives a basic walkthrough of what the process encompassed so people learn a bit of the mystery of how a bunch of ideas become a book you actually hold.