I will be conducting a workshop at the University of Zurich for advanced graduate students on turning their dissertations into books publishable by (mainly anglophone) university presses.  It will take place over two full days and is focused primarily on doing the intellectual work necessary to generate the draft of a book proposal.  I am pasting the syllabus below.



How to Turn Your Dissertation into a Book

Michael Satlow

Brown University

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce you to the process of turning your dissertation into a publishable book, particularly for an American or British press.  By the end of the workshop, you should:

  • Know how academic presses in the U.S. and U.K. work, and how they differ from European academic presses;
  • Understand the full process of having a book accepted and published;
  • Have clarified, or know how to clarify, the central message of your first book in order to make it publishable;
  • Have identified the likely audience for your book;
  • Have produced (or are prepared to produce) a draft of a book proposal

Prior to our workshop it would be best if you read William Germano, Getting it Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious About Serious Books.  There are several editions and while I would recommend the third edition (which has more about digital publishing) any will suffice.  Eric Hayot’s The Elements of Academic Style: Writing for the Humanities might also be helpful to you.


We will spend most of the first day in structured conversation and most of the second day reading and commenting on each other’s proposals.  Prior preparation of a proposal draft was optional, although you’ll have time during the workshop to sketch out something from which you can work.  You will need access to each other’s proposals for this.  I am not familiar with the logistics available there (do we share on Olat?), but we can always set up a Google drive on the first day if this is necessary.


Below is our tentative schedule and goals.  Obviously this can change.  If I have violated any cultural norms or expectations (e.g., the Swiss never have lunch at 1) this is entirely out of ignorance and I will be happy to learn and correct them.


Tuesday, May 23

9-11:                Introductions and an overview of the publishing process

We will go over the publishing process, focusing especially on the first half of the process: identifying a press (series); making contact and submitting a proposal; the review process.  We will also address some other important issues, such as publishing and academic advancement; publishing in the digital age; the use of editors.

11-11:30:          Break and informal conversation

11:30-1:           The difference between a dissertation and book

We will review the difference between producing a dissertation and book and begin to brainstorm on how this applies to your own project.

1-2:                  Lunch

2-4:                  Identifying your message and audience: What is a book proposal?

We will begin with a full group discussion of the importance of being able to identify your audience and figure out how to present your research in a way that will be most effective for them.  We will also discuss the basic elements of a book proposal and the audience for this document.  The class will then be split into smaller groups of two or three in which you do this with each other.  We will then reassemble at the end for full group discussion.

4-5:                  Individual work on your proposals and individual consultations with the instructor

Wednesday, May 24

9-10:30:           Individual work on proposals and individual consultations with the instructor

10:30-11:         Break

11-1:                Small group work on proposals

1-2:                  Lunch

2-4:30:             Selected participants will present and workshop their proposals to the full group

4:30-5:             Wrap up, final questions, next steps