From the McMaster University newspaper, The Courier, here are some tips that came out of a workshop given recently to graduate students.
The facilitators were Don Akenson, senior editor of McGill-Queen's University press, and Cynthia Read, executive editor, Oxford University Press (New York). The synopsis, which we reprint with permission, is by Adele Reinhartz, associate dean, School of Graduate Studies, of McMaster.
1. Not every thesis topic is suitable for a book. Some theses may have to be reworked considerably to reach a broader audience.
2. Learn how to write! Contrary to what many of us have been taught, it is perfectly acceptable, and indeed, preferable, to use the first-person singular rather than couch one's (our) own opinions behind the anonymous "one" (or the royal "we").
3. Do not include a lengthy review of the literature in a book manuscript.
4. Brevity is a virtue. Most publishers are reluctant to publish books of more than 250 pages unless the author is already famous.
5. Do not submit an unsolicited manuscript (or, heaven forfend, a copy of your thesis) to a publisher. Most do not have the time to read it.
6. Do send a covering letter, a brief CV, a description of the book, and a writing sample of 10 to 15 pages, after researching carefully to learn which publishers tend to publish books of the sort that you have written. It is fine to send this package to several publishers at once, but more advanced negotiations should be undertaken with only one publisher at a time.