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Hello! We would like to publish your thesis … (Note of Caution)

Isn’t that what we all want to hear? Well yes and no as it depends who wants to publish it. Most PhD students I know have received at least one email with the exciting title ‘We want to publish you thesis’ or words to that effect and the follows this kind of line …

Dear ….

I am Joe Bloggs and I work for (insert name of random company here). We would like to offer you the possibility of making your academic paper / thesis available as printed book.

I would appreciate if you could confirm your interest in our publishing house and I will be glad to provide you with detailed information about our services.

I am looking forward to receiving a positive response from you

At first glance this is all very exciting, someone knows you and the title of your thesis or conference paper, woo hoo you shout, look out world I’ve arrived! Then you think, hang on a minute … who are these people and how do they know about my work. The first one I received, about 18 months before I submitted my thesis, was from a supposed publishing house based in Germany. The deal was they would print one copy of my thesis as a book for free if I wanted any additional copies I would have to pay for them. There would be no marketing of my ‘book’ and thus really this was just a posh way to print my thesis and give it an ISBN number.

All these companies seem to operate in the same way, if you do not respond to the first email you will receive a follow up, as I did, a few months later. I haven’t heard of any asking for money up front but from people I know who have gone ahead with getting something published the quality has largely been poor with numerous spelling errors, including on the front cover in some cases. So whilst I am a firm believer that that these emails should be dispatched straight to the trash can I was wondering, prompted by an email I received yesterday morning, how many people have actually taken up the offers from these ‘publishers’ what did you get and did anyone find it useful?

We all know you get very little in this life for free and if the offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is! If you follow the advice on this site you will turn your work from PhD2Published and have an end product that you will be proud of, will contribute to knowledge and will also enhance your career rather than merely being a printed doorstop.



  1. M-H said on April 7, 2011

    I’ve had two email approaches to publish my PhD work-in-progress. One was to use a conference paper as a book chapter, which I agreed to. The book duly arrived, and there is a spelling mistake on the back cover! The other chapters (presumably collected in the same way as they got mine – a google search for the key words in the title), are quite interesting and a couple are very good, so I didn’t feel too bad about being included with them. You can order more copies from the publisher’s website, so they must be proper publishers, although they don’t seem to do any marketing.

    The other approach was as you describe, and after two more hassling emails I replied politely but firmly to the effect that I am not interested – my thesis is nowhere near finished, and even if it were it wouldn’t be suitable as a book without a lot more work.

    I am glad that you’ve brought this out into the open. There’s so much pressure on PhD students to publish that these offers can seem very attractive.

  2. a “useful resources” section at the bottom of each article so I’ll pop it in there.

  3. I had two of these and thought it was great but was suspicious until i ran into an editor on the train while i was in the middle of completing my final draft of my thesis. She sounded encouraging… but now i’ve read this post i’m wary to follow up with them, as you suggest.

    Do you know anything about http://www.lap-publishing.com?

    Should i bother with them?


  4. LAP are exactly the type of publisher Sarah is talking about. In the main, they’re just going to get your thesis produced in book form, but consider what value this would have – if any. What you are more likely to need is a publisher who will peer-review and validate your work, as well as get it out to the right buyers/markets. I’m surprised by the encouragement. It’s great to be approached, but, as a rule of thumb, if you yourself haven’t heard of the publisher then in any case they’re likely to be the wrong publisher for you.

  5. In the meantime I’ve tried to sort out the different offers in my inbox – and want to let you know about my results
    and final decision on the publisher that suits my needs the best.
    I must say that my opinion completely changed – not everything that is offered free of charge is necessarily bad.
    I like the setup they have at GRIN (http://www.grin.com), a German publisher located in Munich.
    It was easy to contact the guys there and they were all very helpful – real people working there, not some guys in a callcenter who try to
    put lipstick on the pig. You will get a complete free publication with an ISBN. In return you have to ensure that the paper you want to publish
    suits their layout recommendation for example. Considering this you will get the results as expected.
    Honestly, does anyone think one can get a free publication plus proofreading? I for one did that before I handed in my paper at the university already,
    which I think should be self-evident. Proofreading for free may possibly happen with the new bestseller to come, but having academic papers published it is not common at all.
    On the very contrary in most cases you are asked to pay for the publication of your thesis. For me it was the right decision, maybe it can be an oppertunity too for one of you.

  6. As a veteran publisher, I have been asked to begin a house specific to publishing dissertations and theses by friends in academia. Since many schools require a thesis to be published (and not just bound), this is an excellent service for some. But, as in most cases, it is a way for a small press print on demand company to make some money through email marketing its service to various students.

    Our company will be doing much the same thing, charging a small fee to publish with a company that’s been around for over 12 years, and started out originally as an academic company, publishing text books and titles of interest to the academic world.

    Since most schools require a reasonable amount of editing and proofreading to go into a university thesis, we will assume that the work has been looked over professionally already, and that the research that went into the document is sound (based on the fact that it has been accepted by a university).

    Just my two cents.

    Robert L. Angus
    Theophania Publishing

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