So… I wrote an ebook. Or, more precisely, I compiled one out of blog posts and put it up on Amazon for $3.99 AUD – a price point carefully calibrated to match the cost of a cup of coffee in my home town, Melbourne. I thought I would write a quick post to give it a
shameless plug let you all know it’s out there and what’s in it, so you can decide if you want to buy it or not.
For some time now, readers have started asking me to write posts on topics which I dealt with much earlier. Owning a blog is like having a large and very untidy attic; posts become submerged as the blog rolls on. I have to rummage through the boxes to find the precise thing the reader is looking for. I have trouble remembering what month a particular post was written or what it was called. I am a sloppy tagger, so the wordpress search tools are not that much help. I often resort to googling my name and random words to find what I am looking for.
A book provides a structured reading experience that a blog just can’t because it’s not sequential. I write on topics which interest me or which are prompted by reader requests and things which happen at work. So the posts tend to address different parts of the thesis writing endeavour. Compiling these posts into a book was a way of ordering what I have written in such a way that echoes the process of writing a thesis: start, middle and end.
I chose some of my favourite posts for this book. Others I chose because, at the time, they seemed to resonate with you, the readers. Putting it into a book has taken 10 months because I was doing it in what little spare time I had and, on returning to these posts, I found the itch to EDIT had to be scratched. I fiddled with some posts, extensively rewrote others and occasionally pushed to unrelated ones together. I then wrote an introduction and conclusion. The whole time I nagged my overworked and wonderful sister, @anitranot, to design me a cover (which I think is great).
I believe in the advice in this book – because I followed it myself. I don’t make much of a big deal about this normally, but I did do my thesis in 3 years while working two days a week for most of it. I believe I turned out high quality work: I won my faculty award at the end, as well as best paper and my examiner’s reports were glowing. On those two days I wasn’t doing my thesis I taught PhD students. This experience deeply informed my teaching style. I believe that a thesis can be written in 3 years and that it doesn’t have to kill you.
This doesn’t mean writing a thesis is easy. Although I was well versed on all the ‘tricks of the trade’ and had professional colleagues, such as Dr Robyn Barnacle (thanks Robyn!), to get me through, I still experienced all the emotional ups and downs I write about with relish. While I was doing my PhD I often felt like I was in a helicopter, watching myself toil away on the ground making, literally, every mistake in the book. I used to tell my sister I was like a medical doctor: I could diagnose each disease I was suffering with ease, but was completely unable to cure myself.
The only way I could deal with this strange, contradictory experience was stubbornly put into practice everything I learned in the books that I used to prepare my workshops at RMIT. PhD students in these workshops helped me refine these techniques and would suggest others. I still listen closely when colleagues and students talk about how they work and what technology they use. I am an avid believer in the power of ‘kitchen talk’ to solve practical problems (Twitter enables this now on a much bigger scale of course) and many of the things I learned are in the book.
Finally, running a blog is not a cost neutral enterprise. I have funded the expenses of Thesis Whisperer out of my own pocket. Although in the past RMIT has been supportive, allowing me some work time to do the blog, I recently removed this time from my workplan. This is a story for another time, but suffice to say I now do the blog in the evenings and on weekends – that’s why posts have slowed to one a week.
I do this work because I love it and think it’s valuable, not because I want a promotion or money to support my lifestyle. Due to the vagaries of the international banking system I will only get a cheque after I have sold more than 300 copies. I am trying to guilt you into buying the book, you can, if you wish, read a lot of this content for free if you can be bothered to trawl through the blog to find it. I do hope, however, that enough of you will find the book to be a worthwhile alternative to your next coffee so that Thesiswhisperer.com can pay for it’s own domain registration next year!
I have put the book on Amazon without digital rights management (DRM). I would prefer people not to pirate it, but I suppose they can if they want to. I hope you wont. I chose no DRM so that you can buy it and read it on any e-reader which can load .mobi files. You don’t have to own a Kindle or any ereader to access the contents of this book; you can use the free Kindle app to read it on your computer, phone or tablet.
I’m looking forward to hearing what you think :-)