Publishing your first academic book

Publishing your first academic book

If you are an early career scholar who is thinking of writing academic books to advance your career, this article will help you navigate book publishing with more confidence and less stress.

Some scholars attempt to write their dissertation as a book to make the transition easier, but cultivating good writing habits will serve you well throughout your academic career. These include setting up a regular writing routine and submitting drafts on schedule, perhaps asking a supervisor or a more established academic for advice or mentorship before approaching a publisher. It’s important you set yourself deadlines to keep motivated. You can join a writing group if you are not self-disciplined enough to keep going.

The first hurdle is to overcome perfectionist tendencies – ‘difficult’ sections can be fleshed out and rewritten later. It’s important to follow your schedule or there will be no progress. Writing an academic book is more like a marathon, experienced authors suggest a mini-mum of two years and to work on the book for a while before submitting your proposal to a academic book publisher.

It’s important to talk to scholars in your field at conferences and to write articles for journals to start establishing your reputation. Writing for reputable journals might be useful to apply for certain grants where research impact is one of the requisites.

Preparing for book authorship

All experienced authors agree that you need to read widely and be informed of the latest scholarly advances in your field. Many recommend reading William Germano’s From Dissertation to Book, published in 2005 by the University of Chicago Press.

You can also look for videos or interviews where they explain the book publishing process. Many academic publishers offer helpful advice and brochures for academic authors. It’s also recommended to work on your CV, listing peer-reviewed articles and boosting your publication record before you send your academic book proposal out. Publications make you visible as an author – just be careful not to give away your book’s key concept in a journal article.

From book proposal to contract

Research publishing services carefully – not all academic book publishers are the same and your proposal must be a good fit. It is recommended not to send proposals to many academic book publishers at the same time. Start with one publisher, tailor your proposal to its requirements – usually expressed on its website.  

Patience is required; while you wait for the academic book publisher to reply, continue working on the text and ensure you have permissions for any images and other copyrighted materials that appear in your academic book. It might take weeks if not months to receive a reply and if the publisher turns it down, take note of any feedback and send your revised proposal to the next academic book publisher on your list. Please ensure you review your work carefully before submitting to a publisher. The editor will then present your book to the editorial board and if they vote favourably, you will receive a contract. Once you have your contract, you can start revising your academic book and eventually submit the final manuscript.

From contract to publication

You might have to provide a cover image for your academic book – bear in mind that academic book publishers do not normally pay for copyright permissions. Your input might also be requested for publicity and marketing. For instance, you might have to contact academics to write a blurb for the back cover of your book.

Checking proofs is a lengthy process. As your academic book is nearing publication, it’s helpful to research prizes and awards your book could be eligible for and think of journals that might review it.

Sciendo can meet all book publishing needs for authors and institutions, including a self-publishing package. Visit to see what we can offer. 

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