Guest blog by Glenna Jenkins, freelance (book) editor, active on Peerwith. In her previous post, Glenna shared five good reasons to turn your dissertation into a book. Today, she writes about getting Expert help.
Once your dissertation begins taking on new forms and ideas in your head, then chances are it wants to become a book. But producing a book entails writing a completely different type of narrative. The amount of time this will take will depend on how structured and scientific your dissertation was in the first place. It will also depend on what kind of storyteller you are and whether your topic and approach would appeal to a broad readership.
Writing any type of publishable book is a lot of work. But since you have already completed the research, why not begin with the fun part, which is to put your dissertation away long enough to see it with fresh eyes, almost as if someone else had written it. Meanwhile, look for books that are based on other dissertations, preferably on topics in your field, and read and study them. In each one, pay close attention to the author’s voice and how they use simple words in imaginative ways to lay out their arguments and tell their stories. How they use the active voice to keep the reader rivetted to the page and wanting to read more. Your audience will also be looking for writing that uses plain language in prose that recounts an engaging story on a topic they are interested in and want to know more about.
Your new book will not look anything like a dissertation. Chances are it will not include an abstract or a literature review; nor will it consist of academic jargon, embedded citations, and references to the author’s own work and the work of other scholars and what their arguments are. Footnotes will likely be moved to endnotes and there will be fewer of these. Chapters will not open with introductions that tell the reader what they will be reading. Most readers will prefer to dive into each new chapter, uninterrupted. There will also be fewer and shorter quotations and these will only be used to make the reading more interesting and support what you have to say. There will be few if any subheads. As tables, figures, photos, diagrams and other artwork add to publication costs, these will be used sparingly and only to provide visual images to the discussions.
The writing should be understandable to an educated and curious readership with little or no background in the subject area. Perhaps run a chapter or two by your spouse or a friend. If they cannot understand what you are trying to say, then consider rewriting using the same clean, concise and coherent prose you observed in the books you perused. Using the active voice will also give the writing momentum and keep your readers turning each page to see what you have to say next. You want to convince them to care about what you care about while they are enjoying their reading experience. Precise writing will make your story-telling interesting, engaging and marketable.
Does this sound challenging? For many researchers it would. This is because a good research writer is not necessarily a good prose writer. And a dissertation is not the same as a work of literary non-fiction. So why not consider hiring an Expert to help you do the job?
On Peerwith, researchers can request this service from peers who have some experience as book editors. Still interested? Why not discuss your book project with us: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact any potential book editor on Peerwith, like Glenna, through her own Peerwith.Expert page: https://peerwith.expert/glennamjenkins.