The Academic Book Publishing Process: Five Texts to Check Out

For those wanting to boost their academic writing skills there’s plenty of sound advice around. But if you’re a more advanced scholar and looking to publish your first academic monograph, you might struggle to find writing advice that benefits you at this stage in your career. Whereas most academic writing manuals focus on essays or dissertations, you’ll now be looking for instructions on how to write a book. For everyone’s benefit I’ll share the texts I found most helpful myself. They are by no means the only good books on advanced research writing but if you start by checking them out, you’re well prepared for your next project.

Rowena Murray – Writing for Academic Journals 

Murray has published multiple excellent books on academic writing for students – her book on the PhD process is particularly useful for candidates and supervisors alike. If you’re looking to up your writing game, publishing a research article in a journal might be a good place to start before you commit to writing an entire book. Apart from offering practical tips and exercises, Murray also acknowledges the insecurity that comes with setting out as a writer – a nice touch which makes this book feel like a comfort blanket as well as a teaching aid.

William Germano – From Dissertation to Book 

Like many first-time monograph authors, you might consider turning your PhD thesis into a book. All it takes is some editing and you’re good to go, right? Not really. Germano patiently explains that a thesis and a book are different beasts and teaches you how to change one into the other. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot of work. But if you don’t know where to start and want to maximize your chances of success, ignore this manual at your peril.

Anthony Haynes – Writing Successful Academic Books 

Does what it says on the tin. This book is for the slightly more advanced writer who might be working on one or more projects and would like to know more about the publishing process as a whole. Written by an experienced academic publisher, it offers great insights in the workings of a rather opaque industry and arms the reader with the ability to negotiate contracts, collaborate with editors of all sorts, and manage their project efficiently.

The Writers and Artist’s Year Book 

Not an academic writing manual per se but indispensable if you consider yourself to be a writer who happens to be an academic, instead of an academic who writes. Every edition offers updated sections on copyright and financial issues – and while academics don’t like to think about these things, they are an unavoidable aspect of your practice. If you’re serious about marketing your book, you’ll also find plenty of ideas in this handbook, as well as motivational reflections by well-known writers.

Your Publisher’s Website 

I know, not a book, although some publishers offer free ebooks packed with writing advice. You’d be surprised to know how many people submit book proposals without studying the instructions supplied by their chosen publisher. Don’t make the same mistake. If they want you to format your proposal in a certain way, comply with their instructions. Larger publishers also offer advice on the publishing process as a whole, as well as marketing. I know, a dirty word for many academics, but a field you’d better familiarize yourself with if you want to reap maximum benefit from your hard work.

Image Leah Kelly via Pexels

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