How a Dissertation Becomes a Book

The first book of most academic historians is a strange creature: a dissertation that has become a book. How and when should newly minted Ph.D.’s transform those dissertations into books? It is one of the most important and — often — most perplexing moments in an academic career. This is the first in a series [Read More…]

How Much Do You Need To Read Before Writing?

A reader and friend asked me recently about a key issue in the writing process: I feel like I need to read everything, then write, and even then, I’m unsure of when to have outlined and when to have allowed my new research to impact whatever working outline I may have going. I would love [Read More…]

How Not to Market a Book

John Turner had an excellent post last week on book marketing for academics. I have also written here before about the counterintuitive art of promoting books. Many academic historians (and other professors) range somewhere between squeamish to clueless on how they might actually reach out to a general audience. But our lack of outreach often [Read More…]

Choosing a Book or Dissertation Topic

John Turner recently had a fabulous post on “Publishing without Perishing” which is full of excellent suggestions on how to survive writing your first book or your dissertation. There’s much fodder there for discussion, but today I want to consider the issue of selecting a dissertation topic. Of course, my perspective is shaped by my [Read More…]

Why Are Academic Books So Expensive?

[Today’s post is taken from one of my author newsletters. It is a question that comes up so often that I thought I would share it here.] Many an academic author has had the experience of proudly announcing the publication of his or her new book, only to have someone ask “Why is it so [Read More…]

The Counterintuitive Art of Promoting Books

Everyone seemingly wants to be an author, and most authors want to promote their books. We want to sell copies, of course, but we also want to promote the ideas within our books. The best piece of advice I can offer regarding book promotion is that if you wait until your book is published to [Read More…]

Do You Need a Literary Agent?

I routinely get asked about using a literary agent in securing book contracts. Is this something that authors, academic or non-academic, should consider? It depends on what type of publishing you wish to do. For most academic publishing, you don’t need a literary agent, because academic publishers are not generally engaged in “trade” publishing, meaning [Read More…]

Serendipity in the Stacks: A Case against Bookless Libraries

Several months ago Florida Polytechnic University opened a brand-new library. Its architecture, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is striking. Even more striking is what this library lacks: books. I’ll repeat that: you can’t check out any physical books at FPU’s library. You can, however, read from a screen. Staffers say that electronic workstations give students access [Read More…]

Five Great Books on Evangelical Christianity

My recent post “‘Evangelicals’ Who Are Not Evangelicals” generated quite a discussion about who’s in, and who’s out of the evangelical camp. The study of evangelicalism has seen an amazing renaissance in the past fifty years, so here’s a list of five excellent books on evangelicals and their history. The usual disclaimers: I’m not including [Read More…]

New Year’s Resolution: Read More Books!

[Today’s post is from my Patheos archive] Happy New Year! I have routinely resolved at the New Year that I’d like to read more, and to read more intentionally. (Of course, a major part of my job as a history professor is reading, and much of that reading is pleasurable, but I am talking about [Read More…]


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