Dissertation Into Book

Provides information on transforming a dissertation into a book manuscript

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.

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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.




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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.


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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.

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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.



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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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Write A New Introduction When Transforming Your Dissertation Into Book Form

After you have the main thesis for your book in mind, the first thing you should do is write an introduction.

The introduction establishes the central idea of your book.  Writing the introduction forces you to define what your book is about.  This helps clarify in your mind what information you are going to present in your book.  The introduction should be clear, concise, and interesting.  Therefore, you should write it and rewrite it until you can’t improve it.

Polish it until it shines.  Write from your heart.  And write clearly.  Don’t try to impress us with long drawn out sentences.  Using as few words as possible, lay out a journey for the reader to take.  Make readers want to take this journey with you.

The introduction is the first thing people see when they open your book.  Some will quickly scan it.  Others will read it.  Start with something compelling, something that will convince them to read the entire introduction.  Above all it should entice people to purchase your book.  So spend the time needed on your introduction to draw potential readers into your world.

This is a world you care about.  You want to impart the same feelings to your readers.  Draw them in.  Make them care about this topic too.  How can you do that?  Several introductions from recent books start with a personal story from the author.  The reader can identify with the situation that the author describes.  If the reader is having the same problem, or has confronted the same or similar situations, they are immediately drawn into the world of your book..  They want to read on to see how the author deals with this situation.

However, your introduction should not give away everything that is inside your book.  If it did your target audience would only have to read the introduction to know the contents of your book.  The introduction whets the readers appetite.  It makes them want to know more about this topic.  Whether they agree with you or not, readers should want to know what you have to say after reading the introduction to your book.

The first reader to which your introduction should appeal is an editor of a publishing house.  The editor will be looking to see if you present your ideas in a clear direct manner.  How you write your introduction could well determine whether the editor offers you a book contract.


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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You Should Ask Your Colleagues To Read Your Dissertation

Ask three or four of your trusted colleagues to read your doctoral dissertation with an eye for it becoming a book.  Provide them with a method for recording their comments.    Don’t be shy.  In most cases they will love to share their wisdom with you.  They will also view your work with fresh eyes.  They will be able to see things you might overlook because you are too close to the work.

There are several ways to compile their comments.  You can devise a questionnaire based on items you want to know about your dissertation.  For example, you can ask what needs adding for it to become a book.  Or if you can’t decide between two book concepts, you can ask your readers which you should develop into a book.  This can help clarify the direction you should take.

If you just want to know your colleagues opinions about whether your dissertation should become a book, a comment sheet will be more useful to you.  A comment sheet is open-ended.  Readers can express their true opinions.  This will give a fair assessment of what your colleagues think of the possibilities of turning your dissertation into a book.

Give a date you want the questionnaires or comment sheets back.  Read them and notice if any of the comments are the same or similar.  If you get negative comments regarding a book on this material, don’t totally dismiss them.  Hopefully, you have chosen your readers wisely.    They are people you admire and whose work you admire.  You respect them and their opinions.  They have gone through the journey that you are just beginning.  There is probably truth in their opinions.  If you receive negative comments, take a few days off and read  through the comments again.

You might need to rethink this whole book project and come up with a different angle.  Or you might want to forget writing a book from your dissertation and start fresh with a new book idea.  Listen to wise counsel.  And follow your heart.

Don’t forgo this step.  There are also other reasons you should ask your colleagues to read your dissertation before turning it into a book.  In addition to getting their opinions, this could be the first step in cultivating a writing partner for future projects.   If you think you will never  want to write with anyone,  you still need to get used to having your material read by your peers.

If you write an article for a peer-reviewed journal, before publishing it editors of the journal will send your article to professors at other universities to get their opinions on your article.

If you submit a book manuscript to an academic publisher, an editor will send it out to experts in your field to determine if the material is worthy of publication.

You want to cultivate potential co-authors for articles and books.  To circulate your name far and wide, sometimes it is best to write an article or book with someone well-known in your field.  Let the person know that you welcome the opportunity to work together in the future.

If you haven’t worked with colleagues on a project in the past, now is a good time to get used to the idea of having your work scrutinized by your peers.


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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How To Develop A Schedule For Turning Your Dissertation Into A Book

It is wise to put together a schedule before beginning any book project.  A schedule will keep your project in front of you.  You won’t have to wonder what you should do next.  All you have to do is look at your schedule.  When devising your schedule be realistic.  Take into account all of your other obligations and responsibilities:  work, family, friends, students.  You don’t have to write for a long period of time.  Just scheduling 15 minutes at a time will go a long way to getting your book written.  Don’t let this project overwhelm you.  Doing it in bite sized nuggets will get the job done.


Get a calendar that you will see every day.  Allocate time on this calendar to turn your dissertation into a book.  Select the best time of day for working on this project:  mornings, afternoons, or evenings.  I’m a morning person so I do all my writing in the morning.  After finishing I feel energized for the entire day because I feel as if  I have accomplished something.  Whatever time you select remember that this time is sacred.  Treat this as an appointment with yourself.  Make sure that this will be uninterrupted time.  You owe it to yourself to put your full effort into this project.

Also select a place where you will work on this project.  You will go to this place to work at the times you put into your calendar.  Choose wisely.  It can be the library, your office, your home, or any other place that provides a secure, serene working environment.


Estimate how many months it will take to do the necessary research for the additional chapters you plan to include in your book manuscript.  Put this research time on your calendar.  Decide if you will do all the research yourself or if you will have a graduate assistant or undergraduate student working with you.

Schedule adequate research time for your project.  It is better to schedule too much research time than to schedule not enough.  If you schedule more time than is needed you will feel good about yourself and this project when you finish the research ahead of schedule.  If you schedule too little research time you will feel rushed and stressed about this project.  Rushing will cause you to do shoddy work.


Your book requires a different outline than your dissertation.  The purpose of the outline is to structure your book so that you will know what you plan to put into it.  Decide the order of chapters and what will go into each chapter.  Be sure to schedule adequate writing time for each section.  Outlining your book shows that you have thought the book through from beginning to end.

This is also the time to decide how you will make the book practical and relevant to readers.


Give yourself more than a day to write the introduction to your book.  Plan a minimum of a month.  This includes thinking time.  And writing time.  And also re-writing time.  And more re-writing time.

The introduction is very important because it leads into the central idea of your book.  Take the time to make it clear and concise.


Chapter writing is difficult for first time book writers.  In the coming weeks I’ll give you tips on writing your chapters.  You will want to make your chapters lively and to the point.   But in your planning stage I’ll just say don’t shortchange your chapters.  Schedule at least a month for each chapter.  Be sure to schedule re-writing time for your chapters.


Your last chapter deserves as much time as your introduction.  This chapter will wrap up all that has gone before without repeating it.  Therefore, this chapter should be re-written until you can’t make it any better.

A schedule will make writing your book easier and will keep you on track.  So don’t neglect this important aspect of planning your book project.  Above all discipline yourself to follow this schedule.


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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15 Questions To Ask When Re-Reading Your Dissertation

If you are going to turn your dissertation into a book, first you have to read through it.  When reading you should answer the following questions:

1)   How many strong chapters do you have?

2)   Can this material be expanded into a book?

3)   Will this material add to the record of material in your field?

4)   What can be deleted from your dissertation?

5)   How many chapters will you have to do research for before you start writing?

6)   Is your idea for a book taking shape in your mind?

7)   What will be the structure of your book?

8)   What can be added now that you previously left out to please your dissertation committee?

9)   Can your topic be tied to a current national or global issue?

10)  What quotations are you leaving out?

11)   What quotations are you leaving in?

12)   Do you need all your footnotes for your book?

13)   How much repetition is in the material you are planning to use?

14)   Have you discarded everything that will not support the central idea of your book?

15)   Have you really looked at your dissertation with a critical eye?

Answering these questions will determine how clear the idea for your book is to you.  If you start out with a clear idea you will avoid many months of uncertainty as to whether you are moving in the right direction.  Many decisions have to be made when converting your dissertation into a book manuscript.  Re-reading your dissertation is one of the most important decisions you will make.  You may think re-reading it isn’t necessary because you wrote it and you already know what is in it.

Don’t take the easy road.  You will find nuggets of information that you had forgotten.  In fact, you might even discover something that will lead your book project in a whole different direction.  Adequately answering the questions above will involve more than one reading.  I believe that you should let the material simmer in your mind for a few days between readings.  Your second and third readings will serve to further clarify the direction your book will take.


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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