Dissertation to monograph: Some lessons

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I’m pretty happy to be able to report that today I submitted the indices and final corrections on the galley proofs of my book entitled, Karl Barth on the Filioque. The book is part of a larger series simply called “Barth Studies.” If all goes well, the book should be rolling off the press in the next month or two!  For a description of the book from the Ashgate site, go here.

So here are five things (three a bit more serious, two less so) I learned about transforming a dissertation into a published monograph:

1)  Start thinking about and planning for the Index from day one of the process if you are required to supply it on your own.  I wish I had kept track of how many hours I spent completing this laborious task! I just know it adds lots and lots of hours at a point in the project when you think that you are nearly done! In other words, you really shouldn’t say, “Oh, I’m done the book. All I have to do is create an index.” That’s like saying, “Oh, I have the wood for the house. All I have to do is nail it together!”

Oh, and don’t assume that indexing software will necessarily make the job go likety-split. I did use a demo version of a program called Textract that helped get me going, but even after the software has done its initial magic, there is still a lot of work to do.

2) Even if you are only going to be doing minimal editing (rather than extensive revising or adding of sections), be prepared for some surprises that will take a lot longer than you expect. My own project was actually on the “minimal editing” end of the spectrum, but I still ended up doing significant revision of a couple sections, and adding a new six or seven page section that I felt simply couldn’t not be included. Again, this meant a significant number of hours.

3) Between the time that you finish the dissertation and the time that you begin working on the monograph, keep a separate bibliography of new sources that come up that may need to be incorporated. Even though the gap between completion of the dissertation and the publication of the monograph for me was only three years, I still ended up having to do some significant searching through my own files and additional research to ensure I wasn’t missing something significant that had come up in the meantime. Even though I didn’t add too many more sources, I still did end up appending some. Had I kept an ongoing bibliography in the intervening time, this would have saved me a lot of work.

As for a couple less serious things I learned and recommend to you:

4) Take at least some time to marvel at how it is possible for a manuscript to have been read dozens of times by several different sets of eyes (including professional editors), and yet still end up with over 50 corrections needed in the final galley proofs! Nevertheless, despite the marvel of this impossible possibility, I won’t be surprised if there are still a few errors in the final copy!

5) Try not to cry too much when you find out that Amazon.ca is listing your book to retail at $117.31! (But here’s the good news, folks: If you pre-order a copy of my book today, you can get it for $68.61! What a steal of a deal! So you might as well  buy an extra copy the kids and grandkids, too!)

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4 thoughts on “Dissertation to monograph: Some lessons

  1. Congratulations David, I very much look forward to picking up a copy … and thanks for sharing what you’ve learnt about the transition from dissertation to monograph. Jason.

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