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How to Turn Your Doctoral Dissertation Into a Book

After completing a PhD program, publishing your dissertation can help launch your career.

Earning a doctoral degree is a huge achievement. But if you’re like most, the degree itself is not your end goal. You want a PhD or a doctoral degree like a DBA because it can help further your career. The same principle should apply to your doctoral dissertation. Turning your dissertation into a published book can give your career a serious boost. Nothing says “expert in a field” like having published a book. So how do you go from doctoral dissertation to book? You can start laying the groundwork before you’ve even enrolled in a PhD program. Here are some tips.

Consider earning your PhD degree online.

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It probably comes as no surprise that where you get your PhD degree or DBA degree can affect your chances of getting your dissertation published. But the learning format you choose can also play a role. When you enroll in an online PhD program, you’ll complete the majority of your coursework and dissertation from your home, on a schedule that allows you to continue working a full-time job. This offers you multiple benefits when it comes time to publish your dissertation.

If you earn a PhD degree online while maintaining a full-time job, your schedule should become lighten after you graduate. You can spend the time you would have otherwise been studying to transform your dissertation into a book. This brings up yet another benefit to online education. After earning your PhD degree online, you will already have a system in place for working full time while achieving other goals simultaneously. Having the skills to manage your time well can make a big difference when you’re working to be published.

Understand that publishing is a business.

While your dissertation is an academic exercise, the book version of your dissertation will be a commercial enterprise. Even the best academic presses have to make money—which means your book has to sell. Before you even start writing your dissertation, take time to study the market for books that address your dissertation topic. Who publishes those books? Who buys those books? Do they sell well? Are there undergraduate courses that might assign a book on your topic? When you understand where the book version of your dissertation will fit into the existing marketplace, you can write your dissertation in a way that can make publication easier.

Write your dissertation with the intent to publish it.

Yes, your dissertation will be reviewed by your faculty and its quality will determine whether you earn your PhD. That’s important, obviously. But an unpublished dissertation has far less worth than a published one. That’s why you should understand the commercial market for the book version of your dissertation before you start writing and why you should approach your writing as if you’re already writing a book. Your ultimate audience is the one that will buy your book. Writing to that audience’s level of understanding and education now can save you countless hours of revision later. And remember: not all of your dissertation will be included in your book version. Typically, academic books include none of a dissertation’s methodology section and only a tiny fraction of the literature review.

Make it interesting to read.

Academic writing does not mean dry writing. If you want people to read the book version of your dissertation, you should make it as enjoyable to read as possible. Take time to read successful novels and nonfiction books and pay attention to the way good writers use narrative structure and other storytelling techniques to keep the reader’s attention. You are interested in your topic. Make sure you write in way that makes your reader interested, too.

Prioritize publication.

Your ultimate goal is to have a successful career. And publishing a book can help you build that career in ways that just having a PhD cannot. While earning your PhD degree, DBA degree, or other doctoral degree, it will be tempting to focus on the minutiae of the dissertation process. But you should make every effort to keep your head above water and stay focused on writing a dissertation that can be published as a book. You’re not just earning a doctorate. You’re starting a career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online doctoral programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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