10 steps: from dissertation to book contract

Part 1 in the series. So you want to publish your dissertation as a book. Here are 10 steps to getting that done. I encourage others to add more in the comments.

Step 1: Have a decent chunk of work ready to distribute

In general, the book needs to be pretty much written before you can get a contract. Not always. But for your dissertation book, certainly. So have some chapters written which are book chapters, not dissertation chapters. Preferably all of it. You have to be ready to circulate this material upon request. It’s not a great idea to put in a proposal without work ready to go. By “book chapters not dissertation chapters” I mean text that reads like a book reads. In general dissertation chapters have specific puzzles that are set up, rather heavily, by literature reviews. And usually books don’t look like this. They tend to have much of the set up happen in an introduction, and literature is less “reviewed” than it is used as specific puzzles are taken up. Or perhaps better, unlike dissertation chapters which often read like “here is the literature… now here is me,” books are often utterly more self-indulgent. “Here is me, and here is some literature that relates to me.” This is obviously a broad generalization. But a good way to discover this is to find two people who came out of your department (or any department!) whose books you like. Get the dissertation it’s based off. And compare. The differences should be pretty clear. As a second point: it’s always good to have a model to work off. So pick a book you like (preferably a dissertation book), and think through how the person made it a book. It can be a great guide. Continue reading “10 steps: from dissertation to book contract”

book contracts, take 1

So, a few people asked me to write about getting and negotiating a book contract. I hesitate in part because others have more experience than I do in this field. But still, I think there’s a lot of what I would think of as misinformation out there about “the contract” and so I thought I would start a discussion about the phases of the process: thinking about getting a contact, getting a contract, negotiating it, and what the contract basically means. Not for the job market. But just in general. I’ve gone through this three times: for my dissertation book, my next book, and a book that is more textbook-y. And I’ve learned a lot. Next time I’ll write about the dissertation book, and the following time about my second book. But this time, I just have one single piece of advice that changed my life. Joining the Author’s Guild. You can only do this if you’re already published a book. But once you have, you can apply to join, and as I understand it, most folks are accepted. Now, here’s the great thing about joining: free legal advice. So you pay $85/year. And every year you are entitled to having one of the lawyers at the Author’s Guild review a book contract that you’re negotiating. For me, this advice was invaluable. So first post is for already published folks: join the guild. Trust me. It’s the cheapest legal advice you can get from people who really know publishing. They mostly deal with trade books, but they know about academic publishing too.

organizations, occupations, and work

NEW BLOG ALERT: The Organizations, Occupations, and Work section has started up its own blog. Check it out!


I think this is a wonderful idea — an ASA section setting up a blog to discuss ideas, convey interesting research in their area, and dialogue with the public. Check them out. Welcome to the sociology blog world, OWW!

confronting intolerance

I fear that Robert Jeffress’ recent comments are a harbinger of things to come — the public expression of intolerance and bigotry. Now, had this happened against Jews, or gays, or Muslims, or women, or Lations, (that is, “you should vote for Perry over X person because X belongs to _______ group”) I suspect there would have been more rage on the part of the left. But I feel there has been tremendous silence on this issue, and an unwillingness to confront this kind of prejudice. Some of this is no doubt because many on the left are probably happy to see infighting on the right, on the assumption that it weakens them. Some, I suspect, is because of anti-Mormon sentiment. This, after all, is the church that has lobbied against gay marriage, and is seen as being rather conservative. But it is quite a different thing to claim we should confront positions we disagree with than we should not support people because they are members of some group. It is perfectly acceptable to not support Romney for his politics, should you disagree with them. But not confronting and condemning intolerance — even if it is against a group or person we don’t feel a particularly strong affinity with — is a dangerous precedent.

a hero of our time

I posted something on facebook that was rather critical of Steve Jobs. Teppo asked that I discuss it at greater length on scatterplot. So here goes. I think people are not wrong to suggest that Jobs was one of the most influential people of the last quarter century. I would call him “A Hero of Our Time.”* He’s representative of and helped usher in the changes in our world — both profound and disturbing. He changed the way we live our lives, in part by increasing the way in which our relations are mediated by objects (whose distribution could not be said to be anything close to “equal”). He was also a capitalist, par excellence.  Continue reading “a hero of our time”

ask a scatterbrain: lecture recording

A reader writes in, “I discovered today that some number of students have been audio recording my lectures. I never gave my permission for these recordings to be done. I am willing to allow them to keep the existing recordings and make additional ones, as long as they promise to use these digital files for their own purposes, and not sell or distribute them to anyone else without my express permission. I’d like them to sign an agreement to this effect. Can anyone point me to a useful model, and is there anything else I should consider about this issue?”

kanazawa and racism (take 2)

Remember this? When LSE professor Satoshi Kanazawa wrote a post asking why Black women were less attractive? So, LSE has completed its internal review and disciplinary hearing. The result? Kanazawa is not allowed to publish anything that isn’t peer reviewed for one year, and won’t be teaching any required courses at the school. And he has to write an apology. Their response, and Kanazawa’s apology, after the break. I’m not sure how I feel about the response. But I am glad, for the rest of us, that we don’t have to hear his idiocy for the next year.

Continue reading “kanazawa and racism (take 2)”


An interesting report came out from William Frey at Brookings. Non-white births are now 49% of all American births. And growth in major cities is now almost entirely made up of minorities (98% of population growth in major cities was due to non-whites). Two good graphs in the report. First, on the racial composition by age:

Second, Continue reading “cha-cha-cha-cha-changes”

but it’s a dry heat…

Great news everyone! Things are really cooling off in Vegas. Today there’s a high of 107. But Sunday and Monday we’re looking at 101, and on Tuesday, the high may only be in the double-digits. What more could you ask for? A cool 99!!! For those of us arrive on Friday (me), I’m sure we’ll really notice the difference after that day’s high of 106. At this rate, I’m not sure how the ASA will find a hotter city for us in 2012, when no doubt we’ll be moved from Denver. But in this, I have faith in them. Perhaps we’ll again leave this land, finding ourselves in Al ‘Aziziyah, Libya (hottest day on record: 136 — in September). Or maybe we’ll help revive the abandoned city of Dallol, Ethiopia (average temperature: 94 — that’s all year people). The solution, of course, leaves the issue of what to do in 2013 — how can we keep topping ourselves? I mean, Atlanta to Vegas — that was a varsity play. But what’s the followup? I guess there’s always hell…

creating a reviewer market — a modest proposal

I find myself reviewing a lot. And as I do, I keep thinking, “this must mean that lots of other people aren’t reviewing, because I review far more than 3 times the number of papers I submit.” And so, last night, when hanging out with Jenn Lena and Usher (or at least, being near him), I thought more about a solution: reviewer credits. Here’s the idea:

1.) Massively increase the cost of submitting papers (but not for grad students). So, increase the amount to something like $500.
2.) But… allow people to “pay” for submissions — or at least vast parts of them — with credits that they get for reviewing papers. Continue reading “creating a reviewer market — a modest proposal”

best bet: bet against the S&P

Nate Silver has a great analysis of S&P national debt ratings. The post is worth a read. I won’t summarize it all here, but highlight two points. (1) “if you were an investor looking for guidance on which country’s debt was the safest to invest in, Standard & Poor’s ratings wouldn’t have done much to help you navigate the headwinds of the financial crisis.” And ever better, (2) “The evidence from the past five years suggests that it may be worthwhile to adopt a contrarian investing strategy that specifically bets against S.&P.’s ratings.” It’s also nice to see STATA output in the NYTimes.

oxford bibliographies online

A new resource for those wanting a quick introduction to different fields of sociology: Oxford Bibliographies Online. The sociology one, edited by Jeff Manza, is now online. These are basically annotated bibliographies of areas of the field. You could read this as shameless self-promotion, as I did one of the entries! But I think folks — particularly graduate students or those who want a quick introduction to a field — will find it useful. It doesn’t replace the Annual Review. But it’s a very handy resource.

in defense of antidepressants

Given my last post, I thought it might be interesting to point to a refutation of Angell’s claims about the effectiveness of antidepressants. It was published this weekend as an oped in the NYTimes. I’ve posted it below as well, since I know many folks don’t have full access to the Times anymore. Kramer’s is a spirited defense. I must say I am on Angell’s side with the evidence. But I think his point about their influence in treating specific diseases rather than general/ambiguous ones is very well taken. As are other insights. I’ll also add that Kramer, as far as I can tell, is not on the payroll of any drug company. Often defenders get smeared with this suspicion. The oped is after the break…  Continue reading “in defense of antidepressants”

interactive tour of the barnes

Back in the day, when I lived in Philly (great city!), I used to spend a lot of time at the Barnes Foundation. For those of you who haven’t been, it has perhaps the greatest collection of impressionist art in the world. And it’s collection is so weirdly displayed that it has a unique charm difficult to describe. The museum is moving from its home in the suburbs to downtown Philly (by many of the other museums). And folks worry that the place may lose its charm. We’ll see. I just made a trip down there again this Spring, before it closes in preparation for the move. Felt pretty nostalgic about it. Anyway, if you’ve never been, you can see what this place is like through an interactive tour on the NY Times. It’s not just impressionist art. In the main room, make sure to look at the Matisse, almost on the ceiling… Many of the paintings you can learn more about by clicking on them. Enjoy!

your daily kafka

The New York Review of Books put up this new translation of a (very) short story, “A Message from the Emperor” by Kafka on its blog Friday. I keep returning to it. A thing of beauty. Following it is a note on the text by the translator. Enjoy:

The emperor—it is said—sent to you, the one apart, the wretched subject, the tiny shadow that fled far, far from the imperial sun, precisely to you he sent a message from his deathbed. He bade the messenger kneel by his bed, and whispered the message in his ear. So greatly did he cherish it that he had him repeat it into his ear. With a nod of his head he confirmed the accuracy of the messenger’s words. And before the entire spectatorship of his death—all obstructing walls have been torn down and the great figures of the empire stand in a ring upon the broad, soaring exterior stairways—before all these he dispatched the messenger. The messenger set out at once; a strong, an indefatigable man; thrusting forward now this arm, now the other, he cleared a path though the crowd; every time he meets resistance he points to his breast, which bears the sign of the sun; and he moves forward easily, like no other. But the crowds are so vast; their dwellings know no bounds. Continue reading “your daily kafka”