From thesis to book
Many NIAS Press authors are first-timers, and we pride ourselves on the help we are able to offer to help them turn their thesis material into a proper monograph manuscript. If this sounds like something for you, here are a few points we think you need to consider.
A thesis is not a monograph
In a nutshell, a thesis is written by a student to impress a few colleagues, while a book is written by an author to interest a range of readers. This creates many concrete differences. In comparison with a book, a thesis is often overly cautious and defensive in its arguments, leading to over-documentation, over-referencing and excessively lengthy theoretical and technical sections. A thesis is generally much more technical both in approach and in language. Few structural demands are made of theses, but books must have narrative flow and an inner logic carrying the reader forward. Indeed, a thesis is intended to be give away free, while a book must compete with pints of milk and Picasso prints for its readers’ cash.
There is valuable new input
While a thesis may have had good critical input from the candidate’s supervisor(s), the final critical evaluation by international authorities only comes after the thesis has been produced. Additionally, the critical contribution that can be made by any good academic publisher through external peer reviewers and in-house editing can be of great help in revising text for a monograph. The result is bound to be a far superior piece of writing.
You have a new audience
The audience for a thesis consists of supervisors and examiners, and its purpose is to impress these few people with your grasp of academe in general. The audience for a book is everyone within your field, and hopefully also a number of people outside it, and the author’s is to engage and absorb these readers. You should think about who exactly the audience for your book is, and try to write the kind of book they would most like to read.
Begin by looking at your dissertation again with new eyes. (If possible, it is a good idea to let a thesis rest for a few months first – you can see more clearly if you first gain a little distance.) What does it offer that you believe is new and of interest to other scholars? How can these points be assembled coherently and in a logical and interesting way? What you need to do is reveal your argument, clearly and without any ‘over-dressing’.
There is material necessary in a thesis that has no place in a monograph, so you must edit thoroughly and ruthlessly. For instance, a 100-page review of the theoretical literature to date is highly inappropriate in most books. Likewise, a good thesis has vastly more footnotes than a good book should have, and a detailed methodology section in a monograph is likely to raise both yawns and eyebrows.
If you would like more concrete advice and you think your project is suitable for NIAS Press, our editors look forward to hearing from you.
If you would like more advice but are not yet ready to commit your work to any particular press, we recommend a book published by NIAS Press with someone in your situation in mind: Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Feb. 29 2016
After a year of 48-hour days and frantic juggling, first copies of the printed volume of End of Empire: 100 Days in 1945 that Changed Asia and the World, edited by David P. Chandler, Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa, finally reached the NIAS Press office this morning.