How to publish a Monograph?

By Mehtap Söyler

Congratulations! You have successfully defended your doctoral dissertation and proven your competence to work as an independent scholar. It’s time to turn your thesis into a monograph and contact publishers with global reach. Does this sound difficult, even terrifying?

Not necessarily. On the contrary, this step can be an exciting learning experience. And bear in mind that it increases the credibility and visibility of your work immensely.

While I was writing my thesis at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences, it was a great encouragement to see the published books of alumni. Now, I want to share my publication experience with you and provide you with a guide that describes the process of publishing a monograph.

This process starts in fact before sending a proposal to an editor, and it ends when your monograph reaches the bookshelves. As usual, planning ahead saves time, since the whole process takes  between 1 1/2 and 2, in some cases even three years – depending on the speed of peer-review process, the extent of revisions, and the schedule of the production team.

I strongly recommend writing an article to be published by a peer-reviewed journal during the PhD. It helped me to test a few theoretical arguments of my thesis. It was also an exercise in reducing complexity and redundancy, writing clearly, and reaching a broader audience.

However, I must add, while publishers seek to discover authors who have already entered the international scholarly debate, they would probably reject reviewing books whose main content is already available. Global publishers review manuscripts that do not require extensive re-writing or reorganization. You need to have revised and reorganized in a book format before approaching publishers. Below you find some clues to revise your thesis.

To avoid

  • Explanations that are not germane to the specific subject
  • Massive, jargon-laden expositions of information, cataloging, and large chapter introductions
  • Inflationary usage of capitals, boldface, italics, etc.
  • Tables, figures, and appendices that are not critical for supporting your argument.

To do

  • Revising headings  and subheads
  • Bringing all essential information into the body of the book: integrating explanatory footnotes, if they are necessary at all.
  • Receiving feedback from your mentors, supervisors, and from other authors whether your manuscript is ripe for submission.

For choosing a publishers, I took the suggestions of mentors and peers seriously. They directed my attention to “book series”. Especially with regard to case studies that cover a particular subject, regional area or country, publishers allocate books to relevant series. I made a list of series that would best suit for disseminating the findings of my research.

Evidently, global academic publishers look for scholarship that has an appeal in competitive book market. In writing my book proposal, I underlined the major distinguishing features of the monograph in terms of political relevance of the subject, competing works, and methodological and theoretical innovation. I also addressed the lacuna in academic scholarship on the deep state phenomenon in Turkey, one of the most resilient aspects of Turkish politics.

Below you find the main criteria applied in the peer-review process for the eligibility of the manuscript.

Material & Innovative Capacity Is the material new or contributes to a new, compelling understanding of the known material by offering an original approach and creating new avenues of discussion?
Sources & Contribution to Scholarly Debates Were original sources incorporated?

How and to what extent were the available scholarly debates synthesized?Suitability of Readership & Marketing PotentialWhat is intended (main and subsidiary) readership? Is the scholarly style suitable for this readership? Would the manuscript be useful for students and professors? At what levels?

Can the manuscript be an essential purchase to be included in syllabi and recommended reading lists?

Reviewers send their advisory reports usually in about 3-6 months. If these reports recommend publication unanimously, the editor sends a contract, in which a deadline for the submission of the final typescript is indicated.

I received three positive reviews, which offered helpful criticism and comments. While making revisions, the most important challenge I was confronted with was aligning the changes in the empirical parts with methodological and theoretical arguments. Moreover, I incorporated recent developments. Now I am more able to show the diversity of underlying domestic dynamics that affect the prospects of democracy in Turkey, as well as the international embeddedness of Turkish politics that is reshaped in an uncertain and fragile regional environment. The interdisciplinary platform offered by the Research Laboratory “Constitutional Politics in Turkey” supported me in reflecting on this complexity and clarifying the line of my reasoning.

I want to conclude by giving you an approximate timetable of the production process, which starts after submitting the final typescript.

At this point, you have made all revisions suggested in the advisory reports and sent your final typescript to the editor. From the submission of final files to the publisher, it takes approximately seven months before the bound copies of your book reach the warehouse to be distributed to libraries and bookstores.

  • First, the manuscript is checked and prepared for production by editorial assistants. Once the manuscript is handed to the production team, you are not allowed to make any revisions except minor correction of typos and grammatical errors. You also need to have received permission for the publication of tables and graphs, which are not your own creation.
  • Second, the production team assesses and schedules the process until publication.
  • Third, the team copyedits and typesets the manuscript.
  • Fourth, first proofs are created. At this stage, you make corrections and revise proofs checked.
  • Fifth, the manuscript is finalized and prepared for printing.

Finally, the manuscript is printed, bound and published. Depending on the information you have provided the editor and marketing team about the sales points, subject areas, course levels and areas of the world where your book has particular relevance, your book will find its place in the bookshelves of libraries, bookstores, and eventually in the hands of readers.

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