How to Publish Your Thesis

Completing your thesis is a major milestone. You will have invested years of research, writing (and re-writing!) into this project, and will probably be feeling exhausted, proud and hesitant in equal measures. Where to now? Many people feel the natural next step is to publish their thesis. This blog will examine the road to formal publication.

Before you embark on publication, you need to ask yourself an important question. Will all the work involved in the publication process be worth it? If you want to continue in academia, or move into an academically aligned profession, then the answer may be ‘yes’. If so, consider the following advice.

We’ve created a checklist to step you through the process of publishing your thesis, unlock it using the social buttons below

Your thesis is not a book!

Publishing a thesis means that you will need to re-write and re-structure your thesis considerably. In particular, the literature review and methodology chapters will become unnecessary. A thesis is intended for (and read by) your supervisors, the examiners and maybe a few students and other academics in your discipline! This is harsh, but true. A book will reach a much wider audience, and general audiences, even academic ones, do not want to read extensive literature reviews in published works. If the methodology and/or theoretical approach are vitally important to your arguments, you will need to rewrite your thesis so that these elements are implicit within your text, rather than the subject of stand-alone chapters.

Rewriting and restructuring your thesis text is probably the most important task for getting your thesis published. Many elements of formal academic writing—the linking sentences and signposting (‘I have shown this, now I will show that’) and the passive language common to the sciences in particular (‘it has been shown that’)—will hold back your book writing. A publisher wants to see text that is vibrant, engaging and elegant. Review your thesis chapter outline to see what theme excites you most and restructure your text around this. Rewrite sentences so they are active and direct; make your writing brave. Don’t hide behind hesitant phrases like ‘It is thought that’ or ‘It has been noted that’. Just say it! Rewriting also involves extensive editing, and it may be worthwhile engaging a professional editor before you submit your manuscript to a publisher.

How to Publish Your Thesis

Research publishers

To do this effectively, you will first need to decide on the most suitable publisher for your re-worked thesis and your particular discipline, along with your potential audience. There are several publishing avenues to consider for a long-form publication:[1]

  • academic monograph (like a book, but often published by institutes aligned to a discipline, or academic journals, who do not normally expect to make significant profits)
  • academic book (either for teaching [textbooks] or research purposes)
  • non-academic book for a wider (general) audience.[2]

Most, if not all, academic publishers have websites where you can discover what disciplines (or sub-disciplines) they publish. What companies published your most relevant, read and oft-cited texts? Look into both big-name and smaller publishing houses. You may need to compile a list of names. Submit to publishers one at a time (this is essential etiquette in the publishing world, even if it takes a few months to get an answer!). Publishers also attend many academic conferences, and this can be a good, informal arena to introduce yourself and make a pitch! Also, let your supervisor know you are interested in publication, and use your networks in your department, university and discipline.

Write a book proposal

Publisher websites will include ‘Guidelines for authors’ or ‘Submissions’ pages: read these carefully and follow the content, stylistic and formatting instructions to the letter. This is vital. Publishers do not have time to read non-standard submissions. Edit, proofread and make sure it looks perfect. A book proposal normally contains information such as potential audience, a chapter outline with a succinct description of content, the academic significance and originality of your argument, your book’s place in the market (what other books is it like or not like?), and from one to three complete chapters to showcase your style and readability. Publishers will rarely ask for a complete manuscript.

Market yourself, not just your book

Build up a digital profile: maintain and update your page on with papers and articles; include a link to your blog (if you don’t have one, start one!). Twitter and other forms of social media can be helpful, if used carefully and not to excess. Become known as the expert in your field: you are the one to appear on radio or to write an opinion piece. This approach is increasingly important today, and publishers will ‘Google’ you if you submit to them!

If you decide to publish your thesis, then know that you have much work ahead of you. You will need motivation, dedication and resilience, all the qualities that got you through your PhD years.

[1] Publishing journal articles is dealt with in a separate blog, ‘How to publish a journal article’.

[2] Writing for non-academic audiences is covered in greater depth in ‘How to write for non-academic audiences’.

We’ve created a checklist to step you through the process of publishing your thesis.
Click the button below to Download.

We’ve created a checklist to step you through the process of publishing your thesis, unlock it using the social buttons below

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