Tools & Resources for Scholars

Table of Contents

The Essential Books that Help Me Write More

  • Professors as Writers (eBook): This was the first book I read before starting my tenure-track job. Reading it was the single most important thing I did that summer. This landmark book is jam-packed with practical tips on how to overcome your own writing obstacles like perfectionism and procrastination. Boice’s research promises to help you write 3x more than most!
  • Write no Matter What (eBook): Jensen’s book helps you find time and space to write. Then, it gives you the tools you need to overcome the main writing myths that derail academic writers. Above all, she gives actionable tips to build a sustainable writing practice, to get unstuck, and to establish a writing community to support you.
  • Atomic Habits (eBook | Get the Audio Book free with a free Audible Trial): After reading Professors as Writers, you know that the key to academic writing is consistency. But how do you establish a regular writing habit? Look no further than Atomic Habits, which walks you through the four simple principles that will help you start (or break) any habit. 

Perfecting Academic Prose

  • Stylish Academic Writing (ebook): In this actionable and example-laden book, Helen Sword shows you exactly how to catch your reader’s attention and craft a convincing academic essay.
  • The Elements of Academic Style (ebook): Once I started Hayot’s book, I could not put it down. He breaks good academic writing down, demystifying the “strategies” and “tactics” strong writers use and shows you how to practice for yourself. A must-read for graduate students and faculty alike.
  • Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: Focused specifically on the journal article genre, this workbook nevertheless breaks down skills critical for any academic writing project: understanding what an argument is (and the types you can make in your field), situating your project within the related literature, ensuring your structure supports your main claims, presenting (and analyzing) your evidence in a way that foregrounds your voice, and polishing your sentences.
  • If you are looking for an editor, I highly recommend Allison Van Deventer. She does all types of editing–from developmental to line and copyediting–and she does it well. She edits articles and full book manuscripts and has worked extensively with non-native English speakers.

The Books that Helped Me Go From Dissertation to Book

  • From Dissertation to Book (ebook): This book remains the gold standard for how to turn your dissertation into a book. It will help you decide whether to publish, how to revise your prose, and the differences between dissertation and book styles.
  • Getting it Published (ebook): William Germano, former editor-in-chief for Columbia University Press, knows what editors (and publishers) look for in book proposals and manuscripts. This book demystifies how to select a publisher, what a proposal is (and how to write one), and what editors look for. If you are publishing your first monograph and are working toward the proposal, Germano’s Getting it Published is essential.
  • Thinking Like Your Editor (ebook): While not written for scholarly audiences, both Harvard and MIT University Presses recommend hopeful academic book authors read Thinking Like Your Editor when preparing their proposal. Their thorough book will help you think like your audience and craft the most compelling pitch for your book possible.
  • Not a book, but a helpful roundup post by Georgetown University Press on everything you need to know about turning your dissertation into a book.

Or, see my post distilling all the information above: “All Your Dissertation to Book Questions Answered.”

General Software, Tools & Apps I Use Daily

  • Scrivener (Mac | Windows) : My preferred word-processor for scholarly writing because it allows you to rearrange your writing easily and keep all your research with your drafts. Read my full review of Scrivener 3 for academic writers.
  • TextExpander: A program for Mac and Windows that allows you define a shortcut that will expand into a larger word, phrase, list, or even email–complete with fillable fields (name, etc.). Using my “snippets” for things I type frequently (office hours, frequent student comments, template emails, etc.) saved me over two hours in April 2019. Get 20% off a “lifehacker plan.”
  • Divvy: Have a Mac? Frustrated that you can never get your windows where you want them? Try Divvy, which allows you to set shortcuts to automatically snap your windows where you want them. I use this one at least 20 times per day!
  • Voice Dream Reader: An iPhone app that reads any PDF or Word document. Use it to get distance on your own writing, or to grade low-stakes student assignments holistically.
  • Naturespace: A free iPhone app I use in practically every writing session. It blocks out all background noise and lets me write, distraction free! My favorite track is “Riverwind Dreaming” (also free). 
  • f.lux: Do you work on your computer late at night? If so, you need f.lux, a blue light blocking app, which can help reduce sleep disturbances caused by your computer.

Tools I Use to Curb Digital Distraction

  • Wastenotime: A free browser extension for Safari and Chrome that lets you block certain websites at certain times, or after you’ve spent a set amount of time on them.
  • Rescuetime: A free program that runs on your computer. It shows you how productive you are during the day.
  • Moment for iOS: Can’t seem to break your phone addiction? Or, just find yourself checking it  more than you’d like? Moment (a free app with paid upgrades) tells you exactly how long you spend on your phone each day and how many times you pick it up. It offers free and paid built-in courses to help you reduce screen addiction. [Now, of course, you can also use iPhones’ built-in “screen time” functionalities to do much of this, as well]
  • Articles on how to turn off notifications on Androids and iPhones, and an article in WIRED about why you should.
  • Article on how to set your iPhone to greyscale to make it less appealing.

Tools for Long Car Commutes or Frequent Traveling

  • Audible: Try an Audible membership and get 2 books free! It’s a great way to get a free copy of some of the books mentioned above.
  • Pocket Casts for iOS: My favorite free podcast player because it saves you time. You can speed up the playback faster than Apple Podcasts (up to 3x). You can also “trim silence” and “skip intros” to save even more time.

Tools for Setting up a Website

  • I use Reclaimhosting as my hosting service. It was specifically designed for higher education and is used by institutions like Occidental College.
  • ConvertKit is an extremely simple yet powerful email service provider. Already use an email provider such as MailChimp? ConvertKit will help you transfer everything over!

Humanities First Book Author Inner Circle

Writing your first academic book in a humanities or qualitative social science discipline? Wondering how to manage such a large project? You don't have to struggle alone! Sign up, and I'll send you resources and advice to help you get a handle on your manuscript, find the best publisher, and develop productivity habits to get the book done.

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