I have recently announced that my book Prepare, Succeed, Advance: A Guidebook for Getting a PhD in Biblical Studies and Beyond (Wipf & Stock) has been published. I know that some of you know my blog from the post “Interested in a NT PhD?”
So, you might naturally be asking, “Why buy the cow [the book] when you get the milk [the blog post] for free?”
Good question! This is important, because I want to ensure that folks understand that the differences between the book and the post are many and significant.
#1: CONTENT – the book covers three major phases of academic life, while the blog post contains just one. The book deals with preparation for a PhD (Prepare), the successful writing of a dissertation and its defense (Succeed), and getting a job and beginning a teaching career (Advance). The blog post really only covers the first area.
#2: LENGTH – the book is about 4-6x longer than the blog post. However, I have re-worked the information so much that it is about much more than length. I have many lists and bibliographic notes that are not on the blog. In terms of quality of information, it offers far more than looking at page length.
#3: RESEARCH – when I chose to write the book, I had to actually back-up some of the information that I had only known through personal experience, rumors, and anecdotes. I did research on statistics for various matters. Some of the stats were quite shocking!
#4: EDITING: My editor, Chris Spinks, pushed back on some issues and challenged several statements I made. He definitely made this a much better book because of his keen editorial eye.
#5: MATURITY: I am not saying I am a wise old scholar now, but I wrote the blog post in bits and pieces during my PhD. Now I have had some time to think more, talk with scholars, and really “sit” with the issues. Knowing it will be a book in a library gave the matter more gravitas - I invested more of myself in making the book helpful and accurate.
#6: EFFICIENCY: On my blog, whether in one post or as a whole, the information is somewhat “stream of consciousness” – for the book, I wanted there to be a very clear and simple flow. I believe it is an easy book to find the information you are looking for.
#7: REFINEMENT: If you go to the blog post, it has scores of comments from readers. I have read through them all, but unless there was a glaring error, I did not change the blog post (it is hard to keep up!). However, I was careful in the book to take account of these comments.
#8: BEST PRACTICES: One of the enduring qualities of the book, I hope, is my advice on “Best Practices” for writing and research. This is not in the blog post, but it may be the most important thing I contribute in the book.
These are some of the reasons why you might be interested in buying the book, even if you have read the blog post on which it is roughly based. If the book had a heavy price-tag, I would not be recommending it (and I would not have written it!), since the very basic information is available elsewhere. However, since it is a reasonable $15, I think having it couldn’t hurt. It’s cheaper than the SBL Handbook of Style!