3 Steps To Setting A Realistic Writing Goal

Whether you are writing a journal article or turning your dissertation into a book you need to start writing it. There are lots of things that can distract you from writing. However, if you set a realistic writing goal, the unexpected things that come up during the day will not derail you.

Studies show that those who write every day are more productive than those who go for weeks without writing. Writing every day even makes you more productive than those who go for months without writing and then set aside one or two months to focus on writing. You might think it will be hard to write every day. But with a little planning you can do it.

Follow the steps below to set a realistic daily writing goal:

1) Define Whether You Are A Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Or Late Night Person

Ideally you should plan your time to write around the time of day when you are most productive. If you are a morning person, get up a half hour earlier and devote the extra time to writing. I am a morning person so I write every morning.

2) Have A Set Amount Of Time Devoted To Writing Every Day

Set aside as little as 15 minutes a day. Whatever amount of time you can make a daily commitment to writing is fine as long as you stick to it. Ten minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, etc. Whatever works for you.

3) Put Your Writing Schedule On Your Calendar

With a calendar you can see your other work and family obligations. Writing will become a part of your daily routine. By putting your writing schedule on your calendar you are telling yourself that your writing project is important.

Taking the time each day to write is your responsibility. There will be no one standing over you to make it happen. Having a realistic writing goal is the first step to completing your writing project.

Write every day and before you know it you will have completed your article or your book.

When you finish one project take a week or two off. Then begin another journal article or book. Writing every day will make writing a natural part of your academic life. And your articles and books will flow smoothly from one to another. Your colleagues will wonder where you find the time to do everything. You will know that it is through planning that you accomplish your writing goals.

7 Ways To Get Organized Before You Turn Your Dissertation Into A Book

Before you write one word you should first get organized. Being organized will make your dissertation into book project go smoothly. If you don’t know where to start do the following:

1) Plan your writing project from start to finish. On a sheet of paper write down each thing you have to do from researching through writing. Take time to think through this list. Developing a comprehensive list may reqire a few days. Take this sheet of paper with you wherever you go. When a task relating to your book comes to mind write it down.

2) When your list is complete estimate how long each task will take. Will completing your research take a day, two days, a week, two weeks, a month, three months? Build in extra time for each task in case the unexpected arises. Therefore, if for any reason you have to interrupt your book project to take care of a crisis, you can go back to your book without undue stress when the crisis is over.

3) Designate a specific time each day to work on your book project. If you are having a hard time coming up with a chunk of time to devote to your book, start with just 15 minutes a day. Devoting 15 minutes a day is better than doing nothing and wishing you had time to work on your book.

4) Locate a peaceful environment where you will go each day to work on your project. If you will constantly be interrupted at your office, designate a workplace at home. If you are having a hard time finding a place to work at home, get up before everyone else while your house is quiet or stay up until your family has gone to bed. The first thing you should do in your peaceful environment is transfer Steps 1-3 to your calendar. Now you have a working plan to follow. Check your calendar each day to see what you should be working on in relation to your book project.

5) Place all your research, notes, articles and book related material that you plan to use in one place in your peaceful writing environment. Therefore, you will have everything you need at your fingertips and you will not have to wonder whether an item is in your office or in your briefcase.

6) Notify family, friends, and colleagues of your designated writing time and tell them in a loving way that you should not be disturbed during this time.

7) Streamline your professional schedule. Only accept very important invitations. Only attend very important events. Don’t look for excuses to abandon your schedule.

If you follow these tips you will be focused on starting and completing your book project. Having a plan to follow will take you all the way to completion.

Margaree Mitchell loves teaching scholars how to expand their expertise through the written word. She is the author of the upcoming DISSERTATION INTO BOOK CHECKLIST.

What Do You Do After Turning Your Dissertation Into A Book?

Now that you have finished writing your book the next step is to get a publisher.  Unless an editor has asked to see your book manuscript, do not send it to publishers.  Most editors, including those at academic publishing companies and university presses, want to see a book proposal.

They want to know:

– What your book is about?

– What makes your book unique?

– Why you are the right person to write this book?

– Is your book topical?

– Who will purchase your book?

– How can these potential readers be reached?

– Does your book have global appeal?

– What is your vision of your book?

– Do you have contacts with well-known people who would be willing to write a foreword for your book?

– What are your areas of expertise?

– What similar books exist?

– When will the final manuscript be ready?

– What will you do to help sell your book?

– Do you have any special connections that will help sell your book?

A good book proposal answers all of these questions and more.  Different publishers require different material in your book proposal.  Now is the time to work on your book proposal.  It’s not one size fits all.  The best approach is to set aside time to work on your proposal.  In fact, you can keep the same schedule you had when you worked on turning your dissertation into a book.

Spend time crafting each of the following sections for your book proposal:

– Cover Letter

– Title Page

– Overview

– Markets for your book

– Promotion Plan

– Competitive Analysis (of similar books)

– About the Author

– Table of Contents

– Chapter Summaries

– Introduction

– Sample Chapters

– Curriculum Vitae

After completing the sections needed in a book proposal, select a list of publishers you want to approach.  Now go to their websites and look for their submission requirements.  Put together your book proposal for publisher #1 based on that criteria.  You will notice that publisher #1 has different submission requirements than publisher #2.  However, because you have taken time to put the parts of a book proposal together, you can easily customize your proposal to each publisher’s requirements.  Some publishers might only want to see one chapter, other publishers will want three chapters.

Take time to do a thorough search of books for the Competitive Analysis of books that are similar to yours.  I have heard time and time again this refrain, “There are not any books like mine.”  Not true.  Just because you don’t know of any doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.  You have to dig and find them.  I’m sure your prospective publisher knows what they are.  If you say that there aren’t any books like yours or similar in content, you are showing your limited knowledge.  In the Competitive Analysis you will give a brief description of each book selected and tell how your book is different.

Half of the elements of a book proposal should already be completed because you have  turned your dissertation into a book manuscript.  Your Target Market, Table of Contents, Chapter Summaries, Introduction, and Sample Chapters should already be done. Take time to put together a realistic Promotion Plan on what you plan to do to promote your book.  Update your Curriculum Vitae.  Craft a winning Overview.  Always write a Cover Letter specific to each publisher.

Turning your dissertation into a book manuscript is quite an accomplishment.  Take time to congratulate yourself.  You have successfully navigated the journey of transforming your dissertation into a book.  You have achieved something that has caused many to fall by the wayside.  Take the time to enjoy your success.

But don’t take too long.  Now you have to get busy and place your book with a publisher.  A professional, well-written proposal will do just that!


Margaree Mitchell loves teaching scholars how to expand their expertise through the written word.  She is the author of the upcoming DISSERTATION INTO BOOK CHECKLIST.




Writing Chapters

You have done all the preliminary work needed to transform your dissertation into a book manuscript.  Now you are ready to actually begin writing the chapters of your book.

Don’t let your fears overtake you.  Writing your first book will help define your professional identity.  You are a scholar.  You are now presenting your ideas to the world.

Don’t worry about your manuscript being rejected.  You have spent many years getting to this point.  Take a deep breath.  And start writing.


You have a central idea for your book.  You have organized your chapters so that one will build upon the other.  Your words will flow easier because you know what needs expressing in each chapter that will support your central idea.


The transition from chapter to chapter should be done smoothly.   At the same time, make each paragraph of manageable length.  And the same with sentences.  If you are unsure about the length of a sentence, read it aloud.  You can hear if the sentence expresses your ideas clearly.  Does it need restructuring?  Always strive for clarity.  If your readers are left wondering what you are trying to say, you haven’t expressed your ideas in a clear manner.


Don’t be timid.  Don’t beat around the bush when trying to say what you think regarding your topic.  You are the voice of authority.  This is important to remember when you are writing your book chapters.  Take command of your work and present your ideas in clear, concise sentences.  Let your readers know that you have done your research and this is the result of that work.  Be courageous.  Strive to make your writing interesting.  Boldly state your ideas.


Fill your chapters with good material.  Make your point in each chapter without adding unnecessary words.  Know when to stop explaining.  Know when to move on to the next chapter.

Write naturally.  Do not use the passive voice.  After each chapter make it a practice to read the chapter aloud.  This will help with sentence length.   Reading aloud also helps with clarity.  If your mind trails off while you are reading, just imagine what your readers response will be!  Go back and revise the chapter until it is strong, interesting, and clear.


Be sure your chapters lead directly to your conclusion.  Be creative.  Draw attention to your work through the presentation of your ideas.  Your concluding chapter should be written as clearly as the chapters before it.  Therefore, take time to write a good conclusion.  Just because you are at the end of your book manuscript doesn’t mean it is time to slack off.  Put as much work in this chapter as you did in your introduction.  Strive for a strong ending!


After you complete your book manuscript and have revised it to the best of your ability, let your colleagues read it.  A reading by trusted colleagues will give you an idea of what other experts in your field will think about your book and its contents.  Your colleagues will tell whether you have done an adequate job of supporting your thesis.  They can also tell you which areas need further support.

Don’t omit this step.  If you submit your book to an academic publisher they will send your book out to experts in your field for their comments.  It is better to know what the weak spots are in your manuscript before you send it to a publisher.  Your will have an opportunity to revise the weak spots and make those sections stronger before the review by the publisher’s experts.  Do everything you can to secure a book contract before you send your manuscript to a publishing company.


Now relax and start writing.  Don’t rush.  Take your time.  Determine that you are going to complete this book.  As you work on your book you will get more confident in your writing and with presenting your ideas in written form.


Margaree Mitchell loves teaching scholars how to expand their expertise through the written word.  She is the author of the upcoming DISSERTATION INTO BOOK CHECKLIST.


How To Take Charge Of Your Table Of Contents

You already have a head start on your Table of Contents.  When you developed your schedule for this writing project, you outlined the chapters for your book as you envisioned them.  Now it is time to finalize the contents of those chapters.

Review your dissertation’s Table of Contents.  What should be taken out?  A book editor is not interested in a review of the literature that is in your dissertation.  What makes sense?  What does not make sense?  Are there any chapter titles from your dissertation that you can keep?  Make a note of them.  Are there any chapter titles from your dissertation that need rewritten?  As you rewrite these titles be sure to let the gems inside the chapters shine.

Next look at the working chapter titles in your book manuscript.  Now is the time to polish each title.  Are there any chapter titles that are questionable?   Are there any titles that are not interesting?  You need to name your chapters with the same care that you took in coming up with a title and subtitle for your book.

Now look at your whole proposed book.  Starting at the beginning,  write down the major premise for each chapter.  This will ensure that each chapter builds upon the one before it.  Make each chapter premise simple and clear.  Anyone reading them should be able to plainly see the narrative of your book.

Take these chapter premises and develop a clear provocative title for each chapter.  Revise each title until they are perfect for your book.  Keep at it until the titles sing!

With effective titles your book will flow from chapter to chapter.  A good Table of Contents paints a lively picture.    When you finish you will have a blueprint for your book that will guide you through the writing of it.


Margaree Mitchell loves teaching scholars how to expand their expertise through the written word.  She is the author of the upcoming DISSERTATION INTO BOOK CHECKLIST.

Finish Research Before Writing Your Book

The word ‘research’ is enough to make you forget about writing a book.  We think of ‘research’ as stuck in a dark place pouring over old dusty books or microfilm.  We think of it as tedious work.  In fact, the word ‘research’ can be scary.  You end up doubting yourself and wondering if you overlooked something or didn’t search deep enough.  Those feelings about your research can transform into feelings about your book.  By doubting your research you will doubt whether the content in your book is worthy.

Let’s look at research another way.  A way that isn’t so scary.  Research is simply gathering the information you need for a specific project.  You do research by consulting the research of others.  Research requires work but it is necessary work.

As you embark on your research, you will experience many emotions.  A discovered item may lead to frustration.  Other material may lead to confusion.  But keep researching because you will find information that will make all the uncertainty worthwhile.

It is a good idea to complete your research before writing your book.  The writing of your book manuscript will flow easier.  Finishing the research will avoid stopping and starting on your book project.  If you devote time to research, you are free to devote time to writing and nothing else.  A little organization will go a long way in making research easier.


Which chapters need additional research?

What do you need to do to complete research for those chapters?

a.  Pour over diaries?

b.  Find original letters?

c.  Locate old newspapers in archives?

d.  Read speeches?

e.  Locate rare books?

f.  Interview an expert in your topic area?

g.  Review major books in your field?

h.  Visit a particular research library?

Make a list of everything you need to do.  This list will keep you on track and will ensure that you do not omit anything.  A list will also keep you from going off on a tangent and searching for information that is not relevant to your book’s topic.


How much time do you need to complete all research?

a.  One month?

b.  Three months?

c.  Five months?

If you did not allocate enough research time when you developed your schedule for writing your book, now is the time to revise your schedule.  The length of time needed for research depends on what you know before you begin your research and on the difficulties inherent in locating the material you need.


When you complete your research you may have a hard time incorporating everything you have discovered.  Step back a moment.  You do not have to put all your research into one book.

Absorb your material.  Know it inside out.  You might have uncovered material for two or three books.  Decide what you will use for the book you are working on and put the additional research aside for future projects.


Think through your entire book project.  Go over your chapter outlines.  Do you have enough information to write without stopping to do additional research?

Make a list of questions that need answering in each chapter.  Do you have the necessary material to answer those questions?  If so, you are ready to begin writing.  If not, take time now to finish your research.

Once you get over your initial resistance to research, you will find it to be one of the most exciting parts of the writing process.


Margaree Mitchell loves teaching scholars how to expand their expertise through the written word.  She is the author of the upcoming DISSERTATION INTO BOOK CHECKLIST.



How To Choose A Compelling Title For Your Book

When you visit bookstores the first thing that causes you to pick up a book is its title.  A really good title describes what the book is about.  It makes readers want to pick it up, browse through it, and hopefully purchase it.   Your book should not have the same title as your dissertation.  Your book is for a different audience.

In choosing a title for your book you should think of a title and subtitle.  They are the headlines for your book.  They advertise to the world what your book is about.  So choose your title wisely.  Make your title clear.  And make it grab the interest of readers.


Choosing a strong title will require thought.  Don’t settle on the first title that pops into your head.  You want your title crisp and original.  Don’t decide in haste.  Although you may come back to your original title, it pays to investigate other possible titles for your book.  This will ensure that you can’t come up with anything stronger.

Let’s say you thought of a title 6 months ago when your book was only an idea in your mind.  Since then you have decided on a central idea for your book, you have talked to your colleagues about your book idea, you have done additional research on your topic, and now you are ready to write your book.  The title you thought of six months ago could be wrong for the book you have now decided to write.  If you absolutely, positively love this title, it will be hard for you to let it go.  Therefore, you will try to put something in your book to justify the title when it doesn’t belong.  Or you will just go with the title and forget about having material to support the title in your book.  In all probability your title will get changed before publication by your publishing company.

Before you settle on one working title for your book, think of a minimum of ten possible titles.  Write them down.  As you think about these titles, decide which best describes your book.

Your title has to do a variety of things.  It has to intrigue agents, if you go this route.  It must convince publishers that your book should be added to their lists.  It has to make potential readers want to pick up your book and read it once it is on the market.

A strong title reflects what your book is about.  Plus it will keep you focused as you work on your book.  It will carry you through the writing of your book.

As you consider titles, choose one that stands out in the sea of books.  And make it understandable to your readers.  If you are writing for your colleagues, you title will be more formal but it should still spark interest in your work.


Don’t forget the subtitle.  A strong title and a strong subtitle go hand in hand.  Your subtitle should connect to your title.  Both communicate something about your book.

Spend quality time on your subtitle.  Come up with at least ten different subtitles.  If there is any confusion in what your book is about when someone reads the title, the subtitle erases that confusion.  It clarifies your book’s message.


Listed below are 6 examples of effective titles and subtitles:


Title:          The Politics of Jesus

Subtitle:     Rediscovering The True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted


Title:          The Great Black Jockeys

Subtitle:     The Lives And Times Of The Men Who Dominated America’s First National Sport


Title:          The 8th Habit

Subtitle:     From Effectiveness To Greatness


Title:          The Good Life

Subtitle:     Truths That Last In Times Of Need


Title:          The End Of Education

Subtitle:     Redefining The Value Of School


Title:          Inside City Schools

Subtitle:     Investigating Literacy In Multicultural Classrooms


As you can see by these examples, the title and subtitle complement each other, which is why you should spend valuable time thinking about both.

Consider the 10 titles and subtitles you have developed.  Take several days and decide which works best for your book using the criteria listed above.   Your hard work will produce two strong descriptions of your book that will be irresistible to readers.


Margaree Mitchell loves teaching scholars how to expand their expertise through the written word.  She is the author of the upcoming DISSERTATION INTO BOOK CHECKLIST.

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