3 Strategies and 5 steps to developing your dissertation into a manuscript
Let’s set the record straight. “A dissertation is not a book.” In her recent TAA webinar, “Writing Your First Book: Developing Your Dissertation Into a Manuscript”, Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz of MargaretEdits shared practical strategies and tips for bridging the gap between completing your dissertation and writing a compelling book manuscript.
During this session, Puskar-Pasewicz offered three strategies for making the transition from dissertation to book and then suggested five steps to get started on the journey.
Strategy #1 – Stake your claim
When considering your transition from a novice academic writer working on a dissertation to that of an established author working to develop that research into a book, Puskar-Pasewicz offers these four ways to stake your claim:
- Develop an argument that is open to debate – make sure that the main argument is not merely an indisputable statement or a widely accepted position
- Make your argument clear & engaging – it should be so clear that you can put it into one or two simple sentences
- Keep your argument consistent – make it clear to your reader how each chapter bolsters your main argument and theme
- Be bold – use first person and active voice in your argument
Strategy #2 – Establish your authority
This strategy involves a mental shift whereby you develop your own scholarly voice. In transitioning from a dissertation to a book, you should shift from an over-reliance on quotes from other scholars to prose which interprets the evidence for your readers in your own words.
Strategy #3 – Answer the “So What?” question
The final strategy requires you to provide a persuasive answer to the “So What?” question. This can be done with intellectual answers, practical answers, or both.
In contrast to the narrow focus often associated with a dissertation, when preparing an intellectual answer to the “So What?” question, ask yourself why other scholars in other disciplines should want to read your work. Rather than simply focusing on a gap in the literature, focus on why that gap needs to be filled by your research.
From a practical perspective, when developing the book proposal “you need to persuade an acquisitions editor that your book will sell to the broadest possible audience”. To determine your audience, think about who might benefit from reading your book. Puskar-Paswicz then advises, “once you know your audience, write to your audience”.
5 Steps for getting started
Finally, Puskar-Paswicz suggests the following five steps to get started developing your dissertation into a book:
- Determine your timeline
- Re-familiarize yourself & get re-inspired
- Assess what needs to be done
- Create a research & writing schedule
- Develop a regular writing practice