No matter what kind of author you are, if you want your work published, you’ll eventually have to deal with the publishing industry and writing a book proposal. But writing a book on an academic subject, scholarly literature, is entirely different than submitting a creative, fictional work or attempting to get a manuscript published in an academic article.
Navigating the landscape of book publishing requires planning and persistence. Even previously published authors have a hard time getting their work approved. As a researcher looking to publish your dissertation, you know you have something great after you’ve spent years putting everything together, but how do you convince the editor of that? With these tips, you can craft a persuasive book proposal to stand out from the crowd and make it more likely that your document will be seen by those who get to make the approval or rejection choices.
What’s the Difference Between a Book and a Dissertation?
No matter how long your dissertation is, it is not a book. Yes, it’s lengthy and interesting, but chances are the audience interested in your subject material is highly specialized and, therefore, minimized. Convincing a publishing company to spend the money on printing it is going to be a difficult endeavor, but not impossible.
When you write a dissertation, you’re taking subject matter in the form of your research and that of other scholars who have worked on the same topic before you. A book has a plot with characters and builds from the beginning to a natural progression of the final conclusion. Your dissertation explains your research and takes it to its final outcome.
Dissertations are the product of years of research, fact checking, data collection and analysis, and writing the results. Once it’s complete, the author then presents their findings to a review committee, who then makes observations and comments about the final presentation. A book, on the other hand, pulls the reader into the story and develops a connection with them. Because of this major difference, the writing styles of these two publications are night and day. Dissertations contain details, analyses, and explanations, while books are engaging with prose and descriptive words that entertain the reader. The voice and context of a dissertation is totally opposite of that of a book.
Strategies to Craft a Creative Proposal
Any book proposal requires the author to have developed at least a solid foundation of their book prior to submitting a letter to the editor. To ensure you are ready for the proposal aspect and avoid wasting your time and the publishing company’s, take some time to do the legwork. Talk to people you know who have published their dissertations and get advice about where yours stands. Have someone outside of your field read your book and make sure it’s clear enough to be understood by those outside of your specialty so you can market it to a wider audience. Connect with a literary agent and an editor to guide you through the process.
When it’s time to write the proposal, use these tips to craft a letter that focuses on what the publishers want to see:
● Keep it short and succinct. Avoid long, detailed proposals that basically copy what the dissertation says.
● Include a book description that is one page long, containing elements such as your introduction, argument, contribution from the research, and an outline of the book.
● Add a table of contents that has a short description of each chapter.
● Let the publisher know who the intended audience is for your work instead of leaving them to make assumptions. Include a section about any competitive books and how yours is unique.
● If your manuscript isn’t finished quite yet, give a date of when you expect it to be finished and what still needs to be done.
● Complete your proposal with the name and contact information of anyone who reviewed your book for you and your personal biography, including your expertise and prior publications.
Above all else, take the extra precautions to get your book proposal reviewed by an editor to make sure there are no errors. You want to be creative and professional, and mistakes are a quick way to lose a publisher’s interest!