Advice Books

Now that I'm at the stage of reformulating my dissertation into a book project (a process that's been moved from back burner to front this week for me), I find myself strangely drawn to advice books on the topic. The best I've come across, and probably the best known, are:

Beth Luey, ed. Revising Your Dissertation (UC Press, 2004)
Sometimes the authors get more caught up in prescriptive ruminations on writing style than on nuts-and-bolts advice, but I haven't found a better first step introduction to the process of revising for an academic manuscript.

William Germano. Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books. (Univ of Chicago, 2001)
The how-to of submitting a manuscript - and the whys of academic publishing - laid out in an engaging, readible writing style. Will guide you from inquiry letter through contract and proofing.

It's not that how-to books provide flawless advice; in fact they tend to contradict each other on key points. And obviously, one's advisors and colleagues can provide guidance on the expectations of the discipline better than any book. Still, the books offer the advantage of being written by academic editors themselves, revealing what they are looking for.

I'd be curious what any readers think of advice guides, or if they'd have any suggestions to offer.

By the way if you're earlier in graduate school career, it's not too early to spend a summer afternoon reading these books. No, I don't think third-year grad students should be plotting their first book already, but it's worth knowing as you enter in the long dissertation process what's going to be expected when you pop out at the other end.

Finally, I should point out a resource many readers are undoubtedly familiary with,

Kristin Thompson, "Fair Usage Publication of Film Stills" Cinema Journal 32.2 (Winter 1993), 3–20, available at SCMS website.

Thompson provides a good summary of fair use considerations, though this article sees the legal issues as more complicated and points to anecdotal evidence contradicting Thompson. I've yet to navigate the tricky terrain of copyright in academic publishing. Success and horror stories welcome.


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