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The A, B, C’s of Writing a Book (or Doctoral Thesis) on Economics

If you’re thinking about writing a book on economics (or a doctoral thesis on economics), good for you. I’d love to hear what it’s about!

Are you focusing on macroeconomics or microeconomics?

Does it tackle a specific country or the larger world?

Is your main goal to help readers see economics differently or take advantage of economics differently? In other words, are you trying to better their minds alone or their wallets too?

There are plenty of reasons to write an economics book because there are plenty of practical purposes for economics. As the sometimes accurate Wikipedia explains:

Economic analysis can be applied throughout society, in business, finance, healthcare, and government. Economic analysis is sometimes also applied to such diverse subjects as crime, education, the family, law, politics, religion, social institutions, war, science, and the environment.

Sure enough, if you look up “the economics of war” on Amazon, you’ll get instant hits for Dale C. Copeland’s Economic Interdependence and War… Robert B. Ekelund Jr. and Mark Thornton’s Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War… and Michael A Barnhart’s Japan Prepares for Total War: The Search for Economic Security, 1919-1941.

I picked “war” out of that Wikipedia paragraph’s list at random, but you’ll get similar results from searching for “the economics of religion.” And, sure enough, “the economics of science” brings up a few hits as well.

So what does all this mean if you’re writing an economics book (or a doctoral thesis on economics) yourself?

For one thing, it means you’ve got some automatic competition going on.

For another, it means you have some automatic narrowing down to do. This brings us to your Writing Challenge – Part 1:

Make sure you have a strong and cohesive theme.

Because it’s “the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, or the material welfare of humankind,” as defined by (and explained in Tuesday's writing Definition), your economics book has a lot of room to run. Too much so.

That’s why it’s probably best for everyone if you narrow down your reach. Do you want to focus on a certain country’s economic system... philosophy... input or output? The list goes on, so make sure you know what you’re writing about before you write about it.

This especially applies if your main goal in writing a book on economics isn’t to write a book on economics… but to write a doctoral thesis on economics.

Give that determining panel of academic inquisitors you’re going to have to face as little to criticize as possible.

Whatever your ultimate purpose in writing a book on economics, you’re in for a time-consuming journey. Keep that in mind, and make sure to properly prepare before you go so that it doesn't become a time-exhausting journey.

Any book can be plotted or pantsed (i.e., composed off of a carefully constructed outline or written free-style). And economics books are no exception to that rule.

In theory.

In reality, they’re probably better handled when you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it.

So here’s your Writing Challenge – Part 2:

  1. Ascertain your exact theme. Figure out exactly what you want to bottom-line say, and then put it down on paper or type it into a document.

  2. Break down your theme into supportable points just like you would when writing papers in middle school. Your book or doctoral thesis is going to look a whole lot more sophisticated in the end, of course. But the gist remains the same.

  3. Corroborate those theme-supporting points with details, examples, facts, graphs and however many other pieces of information you need to make your presentation clear and engaging.

Once you’re done with that, writing a book on economics – or writing a doctoral thesis on economics – will be much, much more manageable.

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