In this episode I talk to Dr. Jonathan Doney, Lecturere at the University of Exeter about the process of getting his PhD and postdoc research published as a book. 


Music credit: Happy Boy Theme Kevin MacLeod ( 
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License 


Podcast transcript


00:00:09,000 --> 00:00:15,000
Hello and welcome, R, D And the in betweens, I'm your host, Kelly Preece,

00:00:15,000 --> 00:00:32,000
and every fortnight I talk to a different guest about researchers development and everything in between.

00:00:32,000 --> 00:00:39,000
Hello and welcome to this episode of T, F and the In Betweens. I'm delighted this episode to be talking to my colleague, Dr. Jonathan Doney.

00:00:39,000 --> 00:00:44,000
Jonathan and I are gonna be talking about publishing research as a book and

00:00:44,000 --> 00:00:48,000
specifically being unsuccessful in trying to get your thesis published as a book.

00:00:48,000 --> 00:00:59,000
But thinking about how that material and the learning from the process of failure or rejection can inform other opportunities further down the line.

00:00:59,000 --> 00:01:04,000
So, Jonathan, are you happy to introduce yourself? I'm Dr. Jonathan Doney

00:01:04,000 --> 00:01:09,000
I'm a lecturer in education at the School of Education, University of Exeter.

00:01:09,000 --> 00:01:16,000
And my specialism in teaching is history of education and education policy.

00:01:16,000 --> 00:01:26,000
All right. Thank you very much. And so we we're going to talk today a little bit about experiences of kind of book publishing processes,

00:01:26,000 --> 00:01:29,000
because one of the things that particularly humanities and social science students,

00:01:29,000 --> 00:01:37,000
when they come out of that research degree, often thinking about the kind of, you know, can I publish my thesis as a book?

00:01:37,000 --> 00:01:42,000
And that is something that you tried to do. Is that right? That's right.

00:01:42,000 --> 00:01:45,000
Yeah. With without a huge success, I would say.

00:01:45,000 --> 00:01:52,000
But I did learn a lot of lessons from from that process, which I'm willing, willing and happy to share.

00:01:52,000 --> 00:01:59,000
So how did when you decided that you were when you were thinking about publishing your thesis as a book, what kind of.

00:01:59,000 --> 00:02:04,000
How did you go about investigating whether or not that was possible?

00:02:04,000 --> 00:02:15,000
OK, so that might be helpful to give a bit of background and context to my sort of wider academic networks involvement,

00:02:15,000 --> 00:02:23,000
because I at that point, I had been a co-editor of a journal in the history of education with my supervisor.

00:02:23,000 --> 00:02:29,000
We shared it. And so I was kind of used to dealing with editors.

00:02:29,000 --> 00:02:32,000
Understanding the process of peer review and things like that.

00:02:32,000 --> 00:02:40,000
And I got in touch with a couple of people from different publishing houses who were very keen.

00:02:40,000 --> 00:02:48,000
You know, you've just done a PhD. We would love to publish it. They tended to be I think the term used is vanity publisher.

00:02:48,000 --> 00:02:56,000
So these publishers where you pay a large sum of money and they publish your book as a monograph.

00:02:56,000 --> 00:03:02,000
First of all, I didn't have a large sum of money because I've just been a grad student for three years.

00:03:02,000 --> 00:03:11,000
But also, I was warned by by my  sort of academic champions that what you really need is a book that is published by a reputable company.

00:03:11,000 --> 00:03:20,000
So go to Palgrave, go to Routledge, go to someone like that and see if they'll publish it.

00:03:20,000 --> 00:03:26,000
So I approached I approached someone I knew at palgrave, and they said, oh, yes, we got a lot of this kind of thing.

00:03:26,000 --> 00:03:39,000
Here are some information about how to basically how to show us that you are preparing a book and not just changing a couple of words in a thesis.

00:03:39,000 --> 00:03:44,000
I think that was really useful because, you know, a thesis is written for examiners and no one else really.

00:03:44,000 --> 00:03:48,000
I mean, maybe those who who love you or who you love might read the acknowledgements.

00:03:48,000 --> 00:03:55,000
But on the whole, a thesis is written with the examiners in mind that they are your audience.

00:03:55,000 --> 00:04:01,000
And so the suggestion really was that you don't just say, let's change a few bits.

00:04:01,000 --> 00:04:08,000
You actually take the content of your thesis and restructure it, maybe rework it.

00:04:08,000 --> 00:04:13,000
So instead of thinking what I'm gonna do is quickly convert a thesis into a book.

00:04:13,000 --> 00:04:19,000
Actually, what you do is think I'm going to write a book for which I already have the bulk of the content,

00:04:19,000 --> 00:04:25,000
but I need to express some of that in different ways. I need to give a different sort of introduction.

00:04:25,000 --> 00:04:32,000
Maybe I need to express some of the findings in more in broad terms for a wider audience.

00:04:32,000 --> 00:04:45,000
So I sort of sat down with this guidance and prepared the proposal, which was basically my PhD for a different audience, My PhD is

00:04:45,000 --> 00:04:53,000
quite different from a lot of PhDs because my main contribution to knowledge is a methodological one.

00:04:53,000 --> 00:04:58,000
So might be PdD basically started off as a historical enquiry that ended up being.

00:04:58,000 --> 00:05:09,000
Here's a new method for undertaking historical enquiry. But I'd frame in the in the material I submitted, first of all, I framed it as the content.

00:05:09,000 --> 00:05:17,000
The history of religious education, that's got a very short list of people who'd want to read it.

00:05:17,000 --> 00:05:24,000
And so far, in preparation for this podcast, I looked back at some of the feedback I got on my initial thing,

00:05:24,000 --> 00:05:28,000
and it was, you know, this is a really interesting method. It's a very interesting proposal.

00:05:28,000 --> 00:05:35,000
But the audience is so limited that we can't suggest that it's printed.

00:05:35,000 --> 00:05:44,000
So the sense I had was I'd miss the target. Because what what book publishers want is something that's gonna sell.

00:05:44,000 --> 00:05:46,000
Because that's how to make their money.

00:05:46,000 --> 00:05:55,000
The history of R.E. in the 1960s in England, however much I want it to be the case, is never going to be in the top 10 in the Times.

00:05:55,000 --> 00:06:03,000
Weelend supplements. So the feedback, as I say, was, you know, it's interesting but not interesting enough.

00:06:03,000 --> 00:06:12,000
It's too niche. It's too specialised. I spoke to another a couple of other editors and they said, you know, broadly speaking,

00:06:12,000 --> 00:06:19,000
the fundamental thing that editors, you know, commissioning editors looking for is will this sell?

00:06:19,000 --> 00:06:28,000
Will it be a textbook? So actually, what I did is looked again at the content.

00:06:28,000 --> 00:06:36,000
And said, I don't think I would buy that book. To be honest. What did that feel like for them to come back and sort of basically say.

00:06:36,000 --> 00:06:42,000
Yeah, it's interesting, but it's not interesting enough, given that you kind of dedicate three years of your life to this work.

00:06:42,000 --> 00:06:48,000
And obviously you do find it interesting and there are many other people to find interesting, obviously.

00:06:48,000 --> 00:06:54,000
Well, I wouldn't say many others, Kelly, but few I think on the one hand,

00:06:54,000 --> 00:07:00,000
I was I obviously I was disappointed because my my career plan was finished at the PhD

00:07:00,000 --> 00:07:10,000
publish a monograph be the expert, get a job, you know, easy pathway to Professorial appointment.

00:07:10,000 --> 00:07:16,000
I think I think I agreed with some of the feedback, which shocked me slightly.

00:07:16,000 --> 00:07:22,000
I mean, I know I know that my area is niche and I know that it's very specialised.

00:07:22,000 --> 00:07:27,000
Now, obviously, I'm saying that with the benefit of hindsight, since then, I've had a book contract and I've submitted a manuscript.

00:07:27,000 --> 00:07:33,000
So that is obviously going to change. Changed my view on the feedback.

00:07:33,000 --> 00:07:41,000
I think what I also learnt what what I also felt with some of the feedback was it's actually very personal.

00:07:41,000 --> 00:07:49,000
And I've since discovered that both for that and an unsuccessful submission for the later book were sent to

00:07:49,000 --> 00:07:59,000
people in my field because my field is narrow who think that my cutting edge approach is inappropriate.

00:07:59,000 --> 00:08:07,000
And so some of the feedback was actually quite personal. I'm not that was difficult to deal with because it was it was the typical reviewer two.

00:08:07,000 --> 00:08:15,000
You know, if I was writing this book, I would have written something else. And the reasons I would have written those is because you're wrong.

00:08:15,000 --> 00:08:21,000
So that that was harder. I think that the rejection per say, if that makes sense.

00:08:21,000 --> 00:08:28,000
That's a really important thing to acknowledge, is kind of, you know, you appreciate that you agree with some of the feedback.

00:08:28,000 --> 00:08:35,000
But also, you know, even though we we talk about kind of peer review as this wonderful objective,

00:08:35,000 --> 00:08:44,000
kind of idealised process, actually it is incredibly subjective. Fast forward a little bit then to the book.

00:08:44,000 --> 00:08:53,000
That you're working on now, say. This is come out of the original book that you proposed out of your thesis that.

00:08:53,000 --> 00:08:57,000
Had that wasn't accepted. That's right, isn't it? Yeah.

00:08:57,000 --> 00:09:07,000
I mean, it's kind of it's a development in two ways. So first of all, I applied and was successful in getting a British Academy postdoc fellowship.

00:09:07,000 --> 00:09:18,000
After my PhD and that project was basically to take the method that I devised in my PhD and use it in a broad sweep of education policy,

00:09:18,000 --> 00:09:22,000
still focussed on religious education, but rather than just one event.

00:09:22,000 --> 00:09:28,000
Looking at a series of events from nineteen forty four to the present day.

00:09:28,000 --> 00:09:32,000
And so that that sort of expanded the horizon.

00:09:32,000 --> 00:09:42,000
But also as part of that, there was an opportunity to be published through the British Academy imprint, which is with Oxford University Press.

00:09:42,000 --> 00:09:51,000
So I applied for that opportunity. And again, the feedback, the feedback from one reviewer was, you know, this is really interesting,

00:09:51,000 --> 00:09:57,000
potentially very important methodology could be useful across a broad spectrum of policy areas.

00:09:57,000 --> 00:10:01,000
And another one was basically this is this is not a good idea.

00:10:01,000 --> 00:10:11,000
This is completely inappropriate. Straight. You know, I'm disappointed that the writer has not referred to the work of Scholar X.

00:10:11,000 --> 00:10:17,000
That Scholar X, being the person who done the review, is the typical kind of you haven't done what I would have done.

00:10:17,000 --> 00:10:20,000
Yes. So the British Academy said no.

00:10:20,000 --> 00:10:29,000
Which was disappointing again, because obviously having an Oxford University publication would have been a good career starter.

00:10:29,000 --> 00:10:36,000
But what I did is I took I took the proposal that I prepared for that to another publisher.

00:10:36,000 --> 00:10:46,000
I don't think I changed any of it and simply said, please don't send it to Scholar X for review.

00:10:46,000 --> 00:10:50,000
And because, you know, I was advised that that is possible.

00:10:50,000 --> 00:10:54,000
And I thought, you know, and I said, you know, if you need more information about why, they were like, no, that's fine.

00:10:54,000 --> 00:10:59,000
You know, we recognised that there were people who are not appropriate. So we sent it to others.

00:10:59,000 --> 00:11:07,000
And it came back with, you know, a couple of suggestions of how I might slightly improve the text along the lines of,

00:11:07,000 --> 00:11:11,000
you know, some of the work I've done is international comparison.

00:11:11,000 --> 00:11:17,000
And then one of the comments was just make the reason for the international comparison a little bit more obvious.

00:11:17,000 --> 00:11:25,000
But otherwise, they accepted it. They wanted to change the title and the title they proposed

00:11:25,000 --> 00:11:33,000
I was not happy with. And I was I was stuck because I thought, well, you know, I'm on the cusp of a monograph.

00:11:33,000 --> 00:11:38,000
Contract. Do I want to argue about the title? Well, I do.

00:11:38,000 --> 00:11:41,000
I care about the title and they accepted the title I suggested.

00:11:41,000 --> 00:11:45,000
So both in the title and in the content of the book,

00:11:45,000 --> 00:11:53,000
the book is now very much a methodological explanation and guide to statement archaeology, which is my thing.

00:11:53,000 --> 00:12:07,000
Yeah. And it uses a series of case studies from RE, two of which came from the page day and two of which are more recent work as part of the postdoc.

00:12:07,000 --> 00:12:13,000
So in that respect, significant elements of the PhD are now included in the monograph,

00:12:13,000 --> 00:12:20,000
a couple of other bits I've published separately as journal articles. And the method,

00:12:20,000 --> 00:12:24,000
the method sort of which begins and ends is that the monograph to be published early

00:12:24,000 --> 00:12:30,000
next year hopefully is just an extension of the material I've prepared for the PhD.

00:12:30,000 --> 00:12:36,000
So it kind of feels like it is the monograph from the thesis with a couple of bits at it.

00:12:36,000 --> 00:12:42,000
But it's restructured in quite a significant way. So that instead of being a book about the history of R.E.,

00:12:42,000 --> 00:12:51,000
it's a book about statement archaeology and the history of RE is the basis of the worked examples, but all the way through it's as you know.

00:12:51,000 --> 00:12:56,000
And think about how you would use this in your study. This is the kind of question that I have asked here.

00:12:56,000 --> 00:13:02,000
What kind of question would you ask? And so on. So it is quite a different beast now from what it was.

00:13:02,000 --> 00:13:13,000
And I think I think because of why it has a better position in the market and will be useful to to people who are interested in RE

00:13:13,000 --> 00:13:20,000
And I think it's that that's seems to be say the things that when I talk to people like that this is published,

00:13:20,000 --> 00:13:24,000
that's this this seems to be the core of it is actually, you know,

00:13:24,000 --> 00:13:29,000
it's you hope it might just be changing a few words here and there, but it's actually,

00:13:29,000 --> 00:13:33,000
in a lot of cases, a complete reframing because like you said, you write a thesis for your examiners.

00:13:33,000 --> 00:13:39,000
It's for a very particular audience in a very particular and go.

00:13:39,000 --> 00:13:45,000
And so it's constructed in a very particular way. And if you were kind of wanting to reach the wider academic audience,

00:13:45,000 --> 00:13:53,000
but also the kind of potentially the wider, you know, a student and or public audience, actually,

00:13:53,000 --> 00:14:05,000
a lot of people are reframing the work based on what is what is more of interest to the field rather than kind of the requirements of examination.

00:14:05,000 --> 00:14:12,000
I think that's absolutely right. And I think I would encourage people when they're thinking about how to develop their thesis

00:14:12,000 --> 00:14:18,000
into a book is is think about as many different possible groupings who might be interested.

00:14:18,000 --> 00:14:25,000
So, I mean, like I say, my book is primarily a methodological handbook with a lot of stuff about religious education policy,

00:14:25,000 --> 00:14:33,000
but actually the audience that would be interested. You've got masters level students undertaking their own research projects, PhD students

00:14:33,000 --> 00:14:41,000
but you've also got historians of education policy makers and policy shapers, people who are interested in social history.

00:14:41,000 --> 00:14:46,000
You know, there's quite a lot of social history and contextualising some of these policy moves,

00:14:46,000 --> 00:14:50,000
initial teacher trainees who are going to go into the humanities.

00:14:50,000 --> 00:14:57,000
So think as broadly as possible about who might read your book and how you can sort of tick as many boxes.

00:14:57,000 --> 00:15:01,000
And one of the big things I say, you know, from experience is if there's an international market.

00:15:01,000 --> 00:15:05,000
So I think I added a paragraph about the US.

00:15:05,000 --> 00:15:10,000
I've got quite a lot of stuff in there already about Scandinavia, because that's where I do my comparison.

00:15:10,000 --> 00:15:11,000
That ticks an international box,

00:15:11,000 --> 00:15:19,000
which which keeps publishers happy because they can then think about marketing this book beyond beyond our own shores,

00:15:19,000 --> 00:15:26,000
whether it's into Europe or the US or any sort of Anglophone type country.

00:15:26,000 --> 00:15:34,000
So think broadly and then kind of write in a way that tickles the ears of those sorts of people.

00:15:34,000 --> 00:15:41,000
It is going from the very specific niche kind of contribution that you make in the thesis.

00:15:41,000 --> 00:15:49,000
And broadening back out again, kind of doing, almost doing, going in the opposite direction to what you've been.

00:15:49,000 --> 00:15:53,000
Well, you've been doing for a number of years. I think so, yeah.

00:15:53,000 --> 00:16:01,000
I mean, I know some of the some of the books, the monographs that I've read that have been theses.

00:16:01,000 --> 00:16:06,000
They maintain the level of detail that PhD thesis requires.

00:16:06,000 --> 00:16:17,000
But they contextualise it differently if that makes sense. Whereas I think probably I would argue for mine, I, I stepped back from some of the detail.

00:16:17,000 --> 00:16:24,000
For example, you know, I had five or six thousand words just on how Foucault does historical enquiry.

00:16:24,000 --> 00:16:29,000
Now most sane people would say that's too much in a thesis, let alone a book.

00:16:29,000 --> 00:16:32,000
I think I've got a page and a half in the book about it.

00:16:32,000 --> 00:16:38,000
I mean, the other thing that you can do, which I did quite often, is where you where you don't want to move away from the detail.

00:16:38,000 --> 00:16:48,000
You can write in general terms in the book and you can reference your PhD because with, you know, the library there available for people to consult.

00:16:48,000 --> 00:16:56,000
Absolutely. And so you don't have to give up that sense of of the detail and the richness and the integrity of what you did.

00:16:56,000 --> 00:17:03,000
Thinking a little bit more about the process, because I think that's something that feels really almost mystical to people.

00:17:03,000 --> 00:17:10,000
So you sent in a proposal. So what kind of format did that take?

00:17:10,000 --> 00:17:16,000
So most publishing houses that I'm aware of will publish their format.

00:17:16,000 --> 00:17:18,000
You know, if you look look on the Web site for all, you know,

00:17:18,000 --> 00:17:24,000
authors submission to and then your chosen publisher, yeah, they will usually have some kind of pro forma.

00:17:24,000 --> 00:17:33,000
And is it you know that there are similarities. So, you know, I proposed title give a 300 word description of what the book is.

00:17:33,000 --> 00:17:43,000
You usually have to give chapter outlines, you know, chapter title, what the chapter will cover, how many words you expect it to be.

00:17:43,000 --> 00:17:47,000
And quite a lot of stuff about intended audience. Yeah.

00:17:47,000 --> 00:17:53,000
And also an analysis of competitor. Competitor titles.

00:17:53,000 --> 00:18:03,000
So by being in the system of submitting author, I've also been asked to review a few publications in my field and proposals.

00:18:03,000 --> 00:18:07,000
And some of them, you know, this is this is the only book on this topic.

00:18:07,000 --> 00:18:12,000
It's essential because it's core reading for these modules and others.

00:18:12,000 --> 00:18:19,000
You get a list of fifteen or twenty competitor titles and nothing about why this is different.

00:18:19,000 --> 00:18:28,000
Yeah, I think those kind of really those kind of marketing positioning in the market kind of questions are quite important.

00:18:28,000 --> 00:18:37,000
And I guess if that's got a lot of similarities to how you position the the scholarship is kind of filling a.

00:18:37,000 --> 00:18:39,000
A gap is as having originality.

00:18:39,000 --> 00:18:48,000
It's just thinking about it in less in terms of original contribution to knowledge as it is to mark, as is thinking about the market.

00:18:48,000 --> 00:18:54,000
It's a sounds like it's doing something very similar. I think it's a similar kind of approach in the mind.

00:18:54,000 --> 00:19:00,000
You know, that's the kind of thing you have to think of. Why what is it that I'm going to do that either hasn't been done before?

00:19:00,000 --> 00:19:06,000
Or I mean, one thing that I've seen quite often is books that have been published 30 years ago.

00:19:06,000 --> 00:19:10,000
There are key texts here, you know, are out of date.

00:19:10,000 --> 00:19:16,000
And this this will update the established scholarship in the field, kind of saying.

00:19:16,000 --> 00:19:23,000
So those kinds of things are important. I was very lucky because because of my sort of contacts,

00:19:23,000 --> 00:19:33,000
I had someone who had recently submitted a successful book proposal to Oxford University Press, and they sent me their proposal.

00:19:33,000 --> 00:19:41,000
And obviously, the topics were completely different. The structure was different. But you kind of get an idea of what kind of things make this.

00:19:41,000 --> 00:19:46,000
It's a bit like doing a funding bid or an application for a funded PhD

00:19:46,000 --> 00:19:51,000
You know, if you look at successful ones, you kind of get an idea of what what works.

00:19:51,000 --> 00:19:57,000
Yeah. So I would encourage, you know, particularly early career academics if they're looking for that.

00:19:57,000 --> 00:20:06,000
Ask your ask your existing networks, even if their fields are slightly different or their topics are slightly different.

00:20:06,000 --> 00:20:12,000
And I'm always willing to share my my proposals both for funding and for publication,

00:20:12,000 --> 00:20:18,000
because I think one of the ways we learn how to do it is by looking at ones that I've worked, say.

00:20:18,000 --> 00:20:22,000
You submit the proposal, they got back and said, yep, no, no.

00:20:22,000 --> 00:20:27,000
Oh, no. If only it was as easy as that. So I submitted.

00:20:27,000 --> 00:20:31,000
I submitted to Routledge and Routledge, published on their website.

00:20:31,000 --> 00:20:37,000
Who they're commissioning editors are for different fields now because of a project I'd worked on with other colleagues.

00:20:37,000 --> 00:20:48,000
There is someone who worked in religious education. So what I did first was sent the proposal to him and said, I realise this may not be your field,

00:20:48,000 --> 00:20:52,000
but, you know, could you have a quick look because there was already some kind of relationship.

00:20:52,000 --> 00:20:56,000
Could you have a quick look and or let me know who I should send it to? Yeah.

00:20:56,000 --> 00:21:02,000
And he said, oh, yes, the person you need is my colleague so-and-so. So I sent it to her.

00:21:02,000 --> 00:21:09,000
I actually see she used the policy editorial lead because that's where the book has been.

00:21:09,000 --> 00:21:13,000
That's another thing to sort of perhaps come back to is where do you position your book?

00:21:13,000 --> 00:21:20,000
Yeah. So she had a quick look at it and said, let's have a quick chat.

00:21:20,000 --> 00:21:27,000
There was an initial just one to one conversation with her, and she said, I think, you know, add some detail to this, maybe change there.

00:21:27,000 --> 00:21:33,000
Be open to the possibility of the title being being adapted.

00:21:33,000 --> 00:21:39,000
Once I'd done that, she then takes it to the editorial board meeting.

00:21:39,000 --> 00:21:44,000
You know, with her support, they came back with a couple of suggestions.

00:21:44,000 --> 00:21:51,000
Sorry. And in between that, I discussed it with her. Then it went to review and I had the reviewers comments back to me.

00:21:51,000 --> 00:22:03,000
Yeah. To change the proposal before it went to the editorial board and the editorial board agreed it subject to a change of title.

00:22:03,000 --> 00:22:09,000
And then once once they agreed and you've agreed with them the changes,

00:22:09,000 --> 00:22:16,000
you get offered a contract and the contract is to produce the manuscript within a given amount of time.

00:22:16,000 --> 00:22:26,000
So how long did that take between, say, between the kind of initial contact and getting the contract?

00:22:26,000 --> 00:22:30,000
So I think the initial contact was January, and I signed the contract in September.

00:22:30,000 --> 00:22:39,000
Wow. Now, that's partly because my commissioning editor was off sick for a while, but I mean, that's not an unusual.

00:22:39,000 --> 00:22:44,000
It's not an unusual timescale, particularly if there is a bit of to ing and fro ing.

00:22:44,000 --> 00:22:53,000
Yeah. And I think it also depends on the publishing house, because I think some some that have big structures,

00:22:53,000 --> 00:23:03,000
you might send it to the person you think and they they without you knowing, send it on to a colleague before it even gets any kind of indication.

00:23:03,000 --> 00:23:11,000
It's a really important thing to be aware of that actually, when it comes to book publishing, things can move incredibly slowly.

00:23:11,000 --> 00:23:13,000
Yeah, I think I think that's right.

00:23:13,000 --> 00:23:23,000
And I think I mean, if it taking the whole thing from when I first approached that publisher, which was what do we know, it was January.

00:23:23,000 --> 00:23:31,000
Twenty, eighteen. And I I have just finished completing the page proofs in the last couple of days.

00:23:31,000 --> 00:23:36,000
Wow. So there'll still be another month or so before it goes to press.

00:23:36,000 --> 00:23:43,000
Yes. But, you know, obviously part of that time I've been writing the book.

00:23:43,000 --> 00:23:50,000
Because one thing I didn't want to do, what some people do is they write the book and then they submit a proposal and then they might

00:23:50,000 --> 00:23:57,000
have to do quite a lot of changing according to what proposal changes the editorial board require.

00:23:57,000 --> 00:24:04,000
Whereas I had the structure of the book in my mind and then I've written it according to the proposal, we've agreed.

00:24:04,000 --> 00:24:08,000
So I guess I've got two questions. And on that say, I mean.

00:24:08,000 --> 00:24:14,000
Even though you have the structure, you you know, you hadn't written the thing as a as a whole before you went to proposal.

00:24:14,000 --> 00:24:23,000
It sounds like from your from your the you from your PhD n and from the that you wrote it on you.

00:24:23,000 --> 00:24:28,000
I'm guessing you had quite a reasonable amount of text already.

00:24:28,000 --> 00:24:32,000
I had the basis of a lot of the time. I mean, for the two chapters that came from the PhD

00:24:32,000 --> 00:24:38,000
It wasn't a copy. Copy and paste job. But it wasn't it wasn't a starting from scratch.

00:24:38,000 --> 00:24:45,000
There were chunks, particularly chunks of primary evidence that I did just copy and paste across.

00:24:45,000 --> 00:24:56,000
But I think what I would say is before I said send the book's proposal in, I knew what I'd found and I knew what the structure of the arguments were.

00:24:56,000 --> 00:25:05,000
Yeah. Because, you know, I think for for this route, the book chapter summaries were about four or five hundred words per chapter.

00:25:05,000 --> 00:25:09,000
Yeah, but you need to know enough about what you're gonna say.

00:25:09,000 --> 00:25:17,000
What's your supporting evidence to be able to test to satisfy them that it's not just a you know, you can't be too general.

00:25:17,000 --> 00:25:23,000
You have to be specific. Yeah. I'll talk about this act. I'll talk about these policymakers in the process.

00:25:23,000 --> 00:25:30,000
When did you actually start writing the book? Did you wait until you got the contract or did you start kind of earlier?

00:25:30,000 --> 00:25:31,000
What I think.

00:25:31,000 --> 00:25:42,000
I'd started writing a book a while ago, probably after I finished my PhD, because because I knew that there were bits I wanted to publish.

00:25:42,000 --> 00:25:48,000
So in terms of sort of text on page, I suppose by the time I submitted the proposal,

00:25:48,000 --> 00:25:54,000
I might have had forty thousand words written out of eighty five thousand total.

00:25:54,000 --> 00:25:58,000
Okay. So yeah, sort of with half of the book written.

00:25:58,000 --> 00:26:02,000
I mean a lot of that was just plain old as it says in this paragraph.

00:26:02,000 --> 00:26:07,000
Describe in this paragraph account for. Yeah.

00:26:07,000 --> 00:26:14,000
And then you kind of fill those gaps in. But I was I'd heard stories of people who'd written a book.

00:26:14,000 --> 00:26:21,000
Written a proposal based on the book they'd written, had the proposal talked around and accepted, and then they basically were starting again anyway.

00:26:21,000 --> 00:26:26,000
Yeah, I thought the sensible thing was just, you know, it's bad enough write in one book.

00:26:26,000 --> 00:26:31,000
I certainly did want away two for the price, you know, two books for one publication.

00:26:31,000 --> 00:26:37,000
If that makes sense, you've got to be you've got to be persuasive enough to the publisher that they think.

00:26:37,000 --> 00:26:41,000
I won't say they think you finish the book, but they think you can write the book.

00:26:41,000 --> 00:26:49,000
And also, I didn't take before with a proposal. I had to send a completed chapter as an exemplar of my writing.

00:26:49,000 --> 00:26:55,000
And that was one of the chapters that I'd already adapted from the PhD And that was that was okay.

00:26:55,000 --> 00:27:01,000
So by the time you getting to the point of writing and you've done the proposal, you submit the example chapter,

00:27:01,000 --> 00:27:08,000
you've had all of these back and forth conversations, like you said, you've got such a clear idea of of where the market's going.

00:27:08,000 --> 00:27:13,000
It's then kind of sitting down and doing the thing.

00:27:13,000 --> 00:27:24,000
So we will momentarily we will gloss over the process of writing as if it it's an, you know, click your fingers magically.

00:27:24,000 --> 00:27:33,000
It happened. So at what point did you send kind of drafts to your editor?

00:27:33,000 --> 00:27:45,000
So I. I didn't. They they issued a contract and initially my contract was for the complete book to be ready in April this year.

00:27:45,000 --> 00:27:56,000
OK. Once we got towards April, I sent a very, very nice email that said, you know, this is this is not going to happen by April.

00:27:56,000 --> 00:27:58,000
Can I have till July?

00:27:58,000 --> 00:28:07,000
And because I also wanted to push back the publication date for for strategic reasons, I didn't want the book published in the current REF cycle.

00:28:07,000 --> 00:28:13,000
I wanted it published in the next REF cycle. So they said, well, yeah, bearing in mind you're not in a hurry to have it.

00:28:13,000 --> 00:28:21,000
Then we're happy to put the date back. So I submitted the whole manuscript in July.

00:28:21,000 --> 00:28:30,000
Yeah. And in the process after that is that, first of all, the editor who has commissioned the work reads the piece.

00:28:30,000 --> 00:28:36,000
Yes. Basically to check that you've supplied what you agreed. Yes, of course.

00:28:36,000 --> 00:28:39,000
So I think it was three or four week turnaround.

00:28:39,000 --> 00:28:47,000
And I have an e-mail from her saying, you know, you've not only supplied what we asked for, but it's extremely well-written and very engaging.

00:28:47,000 --> 00:28:57,000
Yes. Which is a technical book on a documentary analysis technique, I think is I said, can I put your comment on the back in the blurb?

00:28:57,000 --> 00:29:03,000
Then it goes to copyediting that they then send back questions like, you know,

00:29:03,000 --> 00:29:09,000
you've sometimes you've used ize, sometimes you use ise, which should it be throughout?

00:29:09,000 --> 00:29:15,000
They ask questions about missing references or references are incomplete.

00:29:15,000 --> 00:29:24,000
That takes about a month. Yeah. Then it goes to typesetting, and I think that took about another month.

00:29:24,000 --> 00:29:33,000
So the best in a sense, the bits that they do take about a month, six weeks at a time, and then you get an email saying, hey, is your galley proofs.

00:29:33,000 --> 00:29:39,000
Please let us have them back in three days. Oh, wow. Which I responded.

00:29:39,000 --> 00:29:44,000
Thank you very much for the opportunity. I will have them within the next fortnight.

00:29:44,000 --> 00:29:48,000
And so far it's been. Oh yes, of course. That's fine. Don't.

00:29:48,000 --> 00:29:56,000
Don't be afraid to say to your publisher. Hang on a minute. You know, that's not a realistic timescale.

00:29:56,000 --> 00:30:01,000
So the situation at the moment is that I've got I've got the marked up proofs I need to enter the

00:30:01,000 --> 00:30:11,000
corrections onto the system and then I won't see the text again until I get physical copies delivered.

00:30:11,000 --> 00:30:14,000
So there's no sort of submission of drafts along the way.

00:30:14,000 --> 00:30:20,000
Certainly in my experience, I don't know how other publishers work, but my sense is that they're not interested.

00:30:20,000 --> 00:30:24,000
Once they've awarded the contract, what they want is the finished text.

00:30:24,000 --> 00:30:32,000
Yeah. So. At what point or is there a point at which it is going to go out to?

00:30:32,000 --> 00:30:38,000
Review is again, so obviously the proposal went through a peer review process. But does the book, the manuscript as a whole.

00:30:38,000 --> 00:30:44,000
Go out for a full review in any way? Well, with this one, no.

00:30:44,000 --> 00:30:48,000
I've got friends who have published with Palgrave or when they submitted the

00:30:48,000 --> 00:30:55,000
manuscript that was read by a couple of external readers before it was accepted.

00:30:55,000 --> 00:30:57,000
Now, obviously,

00:30:57,000 --> 00:31:07,000
my take on that is my book is such a close resemblance with the book that I was contracted to write that it didn't need to go out to review,

00:31:07,000 --> 00:31:12,000
or it may simply be that that's just a delay in the process.

00:31:12,000 --> 00:31:19,000
And, you know, usually there's some kind of reward, I suspect. So, you know, it costs it takes time.

00:31:19,000 --> 00:31:26,000
I think that might vary by publisher. It's important to say that there will always be variations in inexactly.

00:31:26,000 --> 00:31:31,000
How publishers deal with entry is different. These different elements say.

00:31:31,000 --> 00:31:36,000
So the next time you see you see it, it's going to be. A physical copy.

00:31:36,000 --> 00:31:40,000
It's gonna be a physical copy with. With covers and a title on it.

00:31:40,000 --> 00:31:48,000
Which is gonna be quite scary, but also exciting. So have you seen things like cover art or anything?

00:31:48,000 --> 00:32:01,000
Yeah, I am. I was hoping I. I've got a friend who's got a picture that was painted by a relative after that relative had read some of Foucaults work.

00:32:01,000 --> 00:32:06,000
And it's an amazing picture. I was hoping that that could be the cover of the book.

00:32:06,000 --> 00:32:18,000
Because it's got that link with Foucault's theory. But I was sent a bland collection of 12 different covers from which I could choose one.

00:32:18,000 --> 00:32:23,000
So I chose in consultation with my artistic director, my daughter.

00:32:23,000 --> 00:32:29,000
I chose one. And they said, yeah, we can't use that one on your book because that's for a different series.

00:32:29,000 --> 00:32:42,000
So in the end, I cover I've got it's not the one I've chosen, but it has the kind of corporate link with books in policy,

00:32:42,000 --> 00:32:46,000
which is useful for me because I kind of wanted to position this more in policy

00:32:46,000 --> 00:32:51,000
than in sort of religious education theology or anything else like that.

00:32:51,000 --> 00:33:02,000
So I'm not hugely unhappy with the outcome. But, you know, it shows you how constrained you are as an author about some of these decisions.

00:33:02,000 --> 00:33:08,000
Yeah. And I think that the thing you said about the identifying it is so visually as corporately as policy.

00:33:08,000 --> 00:33:18,000
It's interesting you mentioned that earlier about and about it being part of the policy series and the kind of positioning of the book.

00:33:18,000 --> 00:33:21,000
Can you say something a little bit about that?

00:33:21,000 --> 00:33:30,000
Yeah, I mean, I think so, as I sort of hinted earlier on, religious education, there's not a huge sector of educational research.

00:33:30,000 --> 00:33:37,000
It's a very niche field. And actually, the work that I do is religious education by accident.

00:33:37,000 --> 00:33:45,000
My my motivation and my intellectual project, if you like, is about understanding how policy development works in real life.

00:33:45,000 --> 00:33:54,000
It just so happens that I've worked on religious education because that's where I've had ways in or pre-existing knowledge.

00:33:54,000 --> 00:34:02,000
Because I know developing my career as an early career researcher, I want to develop an identity as a policy researcher.

00:34:02,000 --> 00:34:03,000
So to me,

00:34:03,000 --> 00:34:16,000
getting the book published in the policy staple was really important because to have it published is as a religious education book would in a sense,

00:34:16,000 --> 00:34:26,000
keep me constrained within that very narrow field where I've already established a reputation by moving to a slightly broader intellectual silo.

00:34:26,000 --> 00:34:29,000
I suppose there is scope for more development.

00:34:29,000 --> 00:34:35,000
And it's I mean, it's already led to some interesting discussions about other education policy projects.

00:34:35,000 --> 00:34:42,000
So it's been successful. But I think I think the piece of advice that I was given, I would pass on when thinking about publication,

00:34:42,000 --> 00:34:47,000
if think about what you want your academic identity to focus around.

00:34:47,000 --> 00:34:52,000
Yeah. Because lots of us do PhDs to a sort of a combination of what we're interested in,

00:34:52,000 --> 00:34:59,000
but also what we can get funding for, what our supervisors interests are, where where there is a gap.

00:34:59,000 --> 00:35:07,000
I mean, I think of Einstein as the example because his PhD was nothing to do with theories of relativity.

00:35:07,000 --> 00:35:12,000
But that's what he's known for. Yeah. He's not not known for his PhD work, is known for his work afterwards.

00:35:12,000 --> 00:35:15,000
And I think it's an opportunity.

00:35:15,000 --> 00:35:23,000
Getting a book published is to create an early career researcher is a huge thing and it's a thing that gives you opportunities.

00:35:23,000 --> 00:35:31,000
So think about the opportunities. Where do I want to be positioned and how do I then get this book of this monograph?

00:35:31,000 --> 00:35:35,000
How do I then use that as a stepping stone to where I want to be, if that makes sense?

00:35:35,000 --> 00:35:38,000
Yeah, absolutely.

00:35:38,000 --> 00:35:44,000
And within that, I wondered if you could just say a bit more about so you said about delaying it because you didn't want it published.

00:35:44,000 --> 00:35:49,000
You wanted it published in the next REF cycle. So what was the.

00:35:49,000 --> 00:35:59,000
What was the rationale for that? OK. So because of the way the REF works, we're all encouraged or demanded to submit,

00:35:59,000 --> 00:36:04,000
you know, X number of papers at whatever, you know, five For star articles.

00:36:04,000 --> 00:36:12,000
I know that's ridiculous. But, you know, the pressure is to produce a certain number of For star articles or three star articles within the REF cycle.

00:36:12,000 --> 00:36:18,000
I'd already I've already achieved that through publications that I've done in the last few years.

00:36:18,000 --> 00:36:28,000
So if I had got the book published in the current REFcycle, I would have just ended up with, you know, 10 articles from which to choose.

00:36:28,000 --> 00:36:33,000
And then when the clock resets for the new REF cycle, I would have had nothing.

00:36:33,000 --> 00:36:42,000
So it was suggested strongly to me, hold the book back. And then that gives you a starting point for the next REF's cycle.

00:36:42,000 --> 00:36:52,000
You know, you've already got a good solid. Submission sitting on your desk waiting rather than starting from scratch.

00:36:52,000 --> 00:36:56,000
So it's simply that that kind of strategic planning.

00:36:56,000 --> 00:37:01,000
Yeah, and I think with what you said about kind of how you position yourself.

00:37:01,000 --> 00:37:04,000
And how you want to position your academic career?

00:37:04,000 --> 00:37:15,000
These are incredibly important considerations and particularly with things that like the REF cycle and kind of forward forward planning, I guess.

00:37:15,000 --> 00:37:19,000
So what have you learnt from the process of doing the book?

00:37:19,000 --> 00:37:28,000
I would say I've learnt a lot. You know, I've learnt some some fairly fundamental practical skills, like if you're going to write a book.

00:37:28,000 --> 00:37:32,000
You have to change the way that you live. To make it possible.

00:37:32,000 --> 00:37:45,000
Go. For the the year between getting the contract and submitting the manuscript, I spent the first two hours of every working day working on the book.

00:37:45,000 --> 00:37:48,000
OK. Yes. Because it doesn't write

00:37:48,000 --> 00:37:58,000
You know how much I wanted it to write itself So there's the practical level, I think, on the on the sort of career development level,

00:37:58,000 --> 00:38:04,000
you know, the importance of a book I'd completely underestimated. Well, I when it was first suggested, it was like, yeah, you know, well,

00:38:04,000 --> 00:38:09,000
I've done a couple of articles, a book, you know, a book will just be another thing like that.

00:38:09,000 --> 00:38:14,000
But it's not the way that it's viewed, particularly in terms of job applications and progression.

00:38:14,000 --> 00:38:20,000
A book is a big thing. And and the all the publication house is a big thing.

00:38:20,000 --> 00:38:25,000
Yes. So, you know, people were asking me, I interview.

00:38:25,000 --> 00:38:29,000
Oh, yeah. You've got your work on a book. Who's publishing it? That was the question before.

00:38:29,000 --> 00:38:32,000
What's it about? Yeah. Which I think is interesting.

00:38:32,000 --> 00:38:40,000
So I've learnt I've learnt that I think I've learnt more about how to negotiate the process of putting together a submission.

00:38:40,000 --> 00:38:49,000
Getting comments on it, sending it to the right person. You know, that sort of process your side of things.

00:38:49,000 --> 00:38:58,000
But I think what I've learnt also is that many of my colleagues are hugely academically generous and also very interested in what I'm doing.

00:38:58,000 --> 00:39:03,000
I tend to think that my work was so niche that no one else really had any interest.

00:39:03,000 --> 00:39:12,000
But my colleagues have been hugely supportive, very encouraging. I mean, it's a bit like when you start a new job, you know, how's the job going?

00:39:12,000 --> 00:39:16,000
How are you getting on? Anything you need? Maybe like when you do.

00:39:16,000 --> 00:39:20,000
Each day when people say instead of saying, have you finished yet?

00:39:20,000 --> 00:39:25,000
They say, can I give you some money or buy you a meal? It's a bit like that, you know.

00:39:25,000 --> 00:39:29,000
How's the book coming on? Yeah, I see it quite encouraging.

00:39:29,000 --> 00:39:35,000
So. We also have learnt quite a lot about myself because I didn't I didn't believe that I could do PhD

00:39:35,000 --> 00:39:43,000
I come from a very chequered educational background. But I left school with with few qualifications.

00:39:43,000 --> 00:39:46,000
And each time I, you know, I got my degree, I got my masters, I got my PhD

00:39:46,000 --> 00:39:55,000
Each time I thought, well, I didn't believe I could do it. And in a sense, getting the book finished showed me that I could.

00:39:55,000 --> 00:40:03,000
Other people around me believed I could, but I didn't always. I think the biggest lesson for me is actually you can.

00:40:03,000 --> 00:40:10,000
Yeah. And I think the final lesson is don't rush into writing a book.

00:40:10,000 --> 00:40:13,000
Because it is a lot of work. It's worth it is hugely rewarding.

00:40:13,000 --> 00:40:18,000
And, you know, I'm so looking forward to hearing from people who are using the method that I've devised.

00:40:18,000 --> 00:40:25,000
But there are easier ways to spend your life and work you.

00:40:25,000 --> 00:40:36,000
So in the process of writing, writing the book, where you finishing the postdoc and starting the job you're in now, we say we I working full time.

00:40:36,000 --> 00:40:41,000
For about. Six months. No more than six months.

00:40:41,000 --> 00:40:46,000
I started my current role as a lecturer in September last year.

00:40:46,000 --> 00:40:56,000
OK, but September 2019 and I submitted the manuscript in July 2020 and I didn't get the contracts till September.

00:40:56,000 --> 00:41:02,000
So most of the time that I was working on the specific book, I've been working full time.

00:41:02,000 --> 00:41:07,000
Say, I was think that that kind of doing two hours on it every day, like in the morning,

00:41:07,000 --> 00:41:11,000
was that the way that you managed to kind of the balancing of the work?

00:41:11,000 --> 00:41:17,000
Yeah. Yeah. Because prior to that, I you know, I spent three years with my postdoc.

00:41:17,000 --> 00:41:24,000
I spent, you know, working on the book all the time. But, you know, a lot of that was research.

00:41:24,000 --> 00:41:35,000
You know, archive research, data analysis, redeveloping the method, you know, networking meetings, etc.

00:41:35,000 --> 00:41:41,000
And I did quite a lot of other projects alongside that kind of teaching other places.

00:41:41,000 --> 00:41:47,000
So. I did try to have a a day, a week on the book.

00:41:47,000 --> 00:41:55,000
When I first started this role, but it's it wasn't manageable, partly because I can't write flat out for seven or eight hours ago.

00:41:55,000 --> 00:42:04,000
Yeah, partly because however much you set aside a day and lock yourself away and turn your e-mail off, people still find you and they still demand,

00:42:04,000 --> 00:42:10,000
whereas somehow it's more acceptable when people knock on your door eight o'clock in the morning and say, have you got time for a meeting?

00:42:10,000 --> 00:42:15,000
You can say I'm free at lunchtime or I'm free later.

00:42:15,000 --> 00:42:23,000
And that's okay. So, yeah, at this point, I mean, it's sort of one of those things that you achieve it by chipping away a bit at a time.

00:42:23,000 --> 00:42:26,000
And for me, a couple of hours a day was the way to do it.

00:42:26,000 --> 00:42:34,000
I know that for some people they write best, you know, in big, long chunks, maybe at the weekend or they take a day away from the office.

00:42:34,000 --> 00:42:36,000
But I think you have to do what works for you.

00:42:36,000 --> 00:42:44,000
I would also say over the course of the whole project, what works for me has changed at different times.

00:42:44,000 --> 00:42:48,000
I should be be responsive to be be okay with that.

00:42:48,000 --> 00:42:58,000
Thank you so much to Jonathan for a really fascinating discussion about the publishing process, about failure, about rejection,

00:42:58,000 --> 00:43:10,000
but also about finding and articulating your identity as an early career researcher and and placing yourself within your field, moving forward.

00:43:10,000 --> 00:43:15,000
And that's it for this episode. Don't forget to like, rate and subscribe and join me.

00:43:15,000 --> 00:43:42,408
Next time we'll be talking to somebody else about researchers development and everything in between.


Share | Download
Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App