There are no books in my collection that I value quite as much as the one’s that would (or should) fall into the category of ‘Academic Therapy’. Designed with the intention of providing helpful practical guidance on topics such as academic writing, how to teach, or getting published, these texts inevitably end up more therapists couch than An Idiot’s Guide to…
My first of these type of books was Becker’s Writing for Social Scientists, a comfortingly small book that, rather than scoldingly reminding you of the grammar you should have learnt years ago, soothingly assured me that feeling completely at odds with your own brain, was actually fairly common amongst the academic population. I haven’t read Becker for a while so for the moment all I will say is this: If you get the feeling that, despite wanting to write, despite knowing what to write, and despite the deadline that means you have to write, that your brain is conspiring against you, then you need to read Becker.
The most recent addition to the Academic Therapy collection is William Germano’s From Dissertation to Book. The title says it all; how to turn your recently minted PhD thesis, into a marketable, pleasantly readable (lets admit now that they usually aren’t) book. Coming from the position of both a social scientist, and as an editor, Germano understands…. he just understands. Germano understands that in all likelihood you would like your thesis to be a book, but would rather never look at the thing again. He understands that you are plagued with doubt about whether you’ve actually done anything worthwhile for the past however many years that thing took you. He understands that your literature review exists only because the people in charge of the shiny certificates said you had to. However most importantly, he also understands what an editor is thinking when you naively hand them your book proposal and say “I wrote a book me!”
If you’ve just finished your PhD, and you’re thinking that maybe, just maybe, that slab of paper you just created might have a book in it somewhere, Germano will help you really decide if you do, and then tell you what to do. The practical advice is brilliant, from prepping the manuscript, through revising, restructuring, it’s all there. However where it shines is the therapy. The book never makes you feel like you should be the expert, nor that something is obvious. You’ve just finished your PhD for God’s sake, you’re lucky you survived in the first place. You don’t know anything about publishing, you were busy contemplating the minutia of your topic and trying to remember to eat now and again. You might be an expert in your field, but equally likely you know bugger all about how the real world works.
Not to worry, Germano’s got your back. With a soothing sympathetic tone this book will guide you not only through the practical hurdles, but also the one’s your brain will throw up for you too.