Here are some important considerations, when converting your dissertation to a book:

The Freedom of Writing Your Book

As I’m sure it is easy for you to recall, researching and writing your dissertation required you to satisfy the policies and procedures of the university, the chairperson’s requirements and preferences, and the other committee members’ expectations. If you completed data collection at a specific organization, school, or clinic, you were required to satisfy their directives. None of these restrictions now exist. You are free to write what you want. No limitations. You can express yourself in your own way. You can organize the book in a manner that you feel best presents your ideas. You can add your opinion and your perceptions anywhere and everywhere. You will love it.

Your Target Audience or Readership

If you are gearing the book to the academic community of scholars and educators, you should be able to keep the same style you used in the dissertation. Remember that regardless of who they are, most readers will not want to read a book that looks like a dissertation, which usually includes only the common four or five chapters. So you will want to expand the number of chapters to eight or ten shorter chapters.

If you are focusing your book on the general public, you will want to change the writing style to a less formal conversational tone. The use of personal pronouns “I” and “you” will make a stronger connection with your readers. Also, you could to add chapters by breaking up each of your existing dissertation chapters into multiple shorter ones. Change the chapter titles to more mainstream names that reflect the content of each and which deal more directly with the topics and sub-topics you are presenting. Avoid using the traditional dissertation chapter titles such as: Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results or Findings, and Conclusions, Discussion, and Recommendations for Future Research.

Your Attitude about Getting Your Book Published

How important is it to you that you publish your book? Your commitment needs to be very high because the cost in time, money, and effort will be great. One major advantage to converting your dissertation to a book is that it is essentially already written. Yes, there is still work to be done, but most of the difficult chapters and sections are finished. You will need to make decisions about organization. Transitional sentences and paragraphs must be added.

Traditional or On-Demand Publisher

What type of publisher will you use?  If you select a traditional publisher such as Sage Publications, John Wiley & Sons, or W.W. Norton & Company, once they accept the manuscript they will decide on formatting, layout, and organization. Many traditional publishers will not deal with new authors directly. They only want to communicate with authors’ agents. When your book is accepted for publication, the publisher will assume all publishing costs. An important advantage: they will promote your book through their websites, catalogues, and representatives.

If you decide to use an “on-demand” publisher, you will make all the decisions regarding the issues of content, formatting, layout, and organization. This type of publishing service offers numerous fee-based support services that you may choose to use. Also, the royalties you receive can be very high, when compared to traditional publishers, since you set the selling price of the book. Here are a few “on-demand” publishers to investigate: Author House, iUniverse Publishing, Lulu Press, Trafford Publishing, CreateSpace, and Xlibris Publishing. They offer a variety of publishing services, which vary from the minimal to comprehensive. It is your decision since you are purchasing a pre-publication package, which will cost somewhere between $500 and $1,000 depending on the services you want. An important disadvantage:  the publisher will not promote your book. They will offer promotion and marketing packages at an extra cost.

Regardless of the type of publisher you select, the benefits of publishing a book are significant: you will generally be considered an expert in the subject of the book; you could decide to give lectures, seminars, and speeches based on your book; you can receive a steady stream of royalty income every quarter; if you choose an on-demand publisher, your book will be available into perpetuity; it will feel great to see your book published; and your family and friends will be impressed.

Recommended Sources:

Germano, W. (2001). Getting It Published. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Harman, E., Montagnes, I., McMenemy, S., & Bucci, C. (2003).  (Eds.) The Thesis and the Book: A Guide for First-Time Academic Authors. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Recommended citation for this report:

Wargo, W.G. (2014). AIC Report #13, Converting Your Dissertation to a Book – Some Important Considerations. Menifee, CA: Academic Information Center.

If you would like additional information on this topic, please contact: William Wargo, Ph.D. at or (951) 301-5557.

Published by: Academic Information Center, P.O. Box 2501, Menifee, CA 92586.


Rev. 3-14



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