From Dissertation to Book Workshop

The American Sociological Association invited me to present a workshop at the 2012 annual conference on the dissertation to book process. Knowing that my personal experience writing a book differed from many of my colleagues, I started the workshop planning process early and by investigating others’ experiences. After identifying common themes, differences, and resources I wrote an abstract and identified colleagues who would add a perspective different from my own.

What follows is a brief summary of the workshop, its goals, the workshop team, and a set of resources.


PhDs are often encouraged to transform their dissertations into books. Yet the audience, content, structure, writing, and voice of a dissertation (i.e., thesis) differ dramatically at times from a published book, even one that is based on the dissertation’s data and arguments. In writing your dissertation, you figured out something important and explained it in a way that your advisers would understand and validate. For your book, you need to tell the story differently, with fresh insight, clarity, and a new readership in mind. This workshop will help you do that.

Workshop Goals

This workshop breaks down the dissertation-to-book process into key elements and considerations. Depending on where you are in the transformation, your focus will change. However, there are some basic elements. The workshop:

  • Describes how a book manuscript differs from a dissertation
  • Explains key stages in the process of developing a manuscript based on dissertation research
  • Identifies common stumbling blocks and ways to address them
  • Provides resources and ideas about where to look for help

The Team

If you’re reading this website, you already know that I’m Gayle Sulik – an independent scholar, health advocate, and research associate affiliated with the University at Albany. What you may not know is that my book “Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health” – originated back in 2001 with my dissertation research. After completing the dissertation (2004), which focused on women’s survivorship, care, and decision-making, I expanded my research into breast cancer culture and industry to learn how the system worked. After several smaller research projects, I spent one year on a research fellowship from the National Endowment from the Humanities to complete my research and write the bulk of the book. I published “Pink Ribbon Blues” with Oxford University Press as a “cross-over/trade” book with the intent of expanding public dialogue about what works and what doesn’t in breast cancer culture. This was six years after the completion of my dissertation. The take-home message for scholar-authors: be persistent.

Astrid Eich-Krohm, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Southern Connecticut State University. She is a qualitative sociologist with research interests in gender, international migration, aging and health. Her migration research focuses on recent German migration to the United States by comparing settlement/return decisions of German families in the U.S. Most importantly, her research focuses on the larger role of the family especially the spouses who are often considered “tied migrants” without much say in the decision process of returning or settling. She is the author of “German Professionals in the United States: A Gendered Analysis of the Migration Decision of Highly Skilled Families” (LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2012).

Dr. Eich-Krohm offers insights about the importance of balancing personal and institutional expectations when writing a book, and why she decided to publish in a “book series.”

Meika Loe, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Colgate University. She is the author of “Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond” (Oxford University Press, 2011) and “The Rise of Viagra: How The Little Blue Pill Changed Sex in America” (NYU Press, 2004). The latter was based on her earlier dissertation research. Dr. Loe’s critical scholarship on culture, age, medicine, technology, and gender has appeared in a range of academic journals, and she has spoken with numerous media outlets in addition to writing about aging on the Aging Our Way Blog.

Having written one book based on her dissertation, and a second book based on new research Dr. Loe offers important “take-aways” about the publication process.

Adina Nack, PhD., is Associate Professor of Sociology, Gender, and Women’s Studies at California Lutheran University. She is also Director of CLU’s Center for Equality and Justice and a Senior Research Fellow for the Council on Contemporary Families. In the field of women’s health, Dr. Adina Nack has made an impressive debut with her book, Damaged Goods? Women Living With Incurable Sexually Transmitted Diseases, which highlights years of medical sociology research. Known for discussing taboo topics from a sociological perspective, Dr. Nack connects readers with women who boldly shared their stories of living with medically incurable STDs. An author, blogger, and public speaker, Dr. Nack is a strong advocate for comprehensive sexuality education and has been featured in two MTV documentaries.

Dr. Nack. shares insight into the book production process and the crucial importance of “marketing and book promotion” for those who are reaching out to a broader audience.


On May 11, 2012 Astrid Eich-Krohm and I participated in an ASA Professional Webinar about the Dissertation to Book Process. It may be run again this fall. In the meantime, here are the powerpoint slides from the ASA workshop, and a companion handout.

Powerpoint Slides »

Companion Handout »

Suggested Citation

Feel free to download, use, and share these materials. When you do, please use the following citation:

Sulik, Gayle, Astrid Eich-Krohm, Meika Loe, and Adina Nack. 2012. “Professional Development Workshop: From Dissertation to Book.” Presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 19, Denver, CO. Retrieved [Date] (

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