Publishing a book is a way for writers to make money from their writing and get their ideas out there. But do you need a degree to publish a book?
You can publish a book without a degree in any field. However, degrees are usually required if the book is about a specialized topic like astrophysics or marine biology. Anyone with language proficiency, research skills, and passion can publish a work of fiction, autobiography, or a crime thriller.
Publishing Work on Specialized Topics
You don’t technically need a degree to publish any book, even one about a specialized field. However, it certainly adds to credibility.
A medical journal written by a medical enthusiast rather than a qualified doctor will probably not pass peer review, and it won’t be taken as seriously if published. There isn’t really any amount of online trawling you can do to give you the same experience as a medical professional.
This applies to all scientific, medical, and psychology books and philosophy journals and books.
For example, a book on borderline personality disorder will be taken more seriously if written by a qualified psychologist, or someone who has this disorder, than by someone who read a psychology book once and Googled the DSM-5-TR.
Even if you publish a book of this nature without professional knowledge or personal experience, the information will potentially be biased and lack truth and depth.
In some cases, you will almost certainly not even get to the reviewing stage if you write a scientific journal without some type of qualifications. For more information regarding the rigorous editorial processes that determine which papers get reviewed and published, read Nature’s editorial criteria and processes.
Publishing Work on Everything Else
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the range of topics you can publish a book about, even without a degree.
The following is a list of topics and book types you can publish without a degree:
- Children’s books
- Sci-fi and fantasy
- History and mythology
- Gardening and agriculture
- Art (sculpting, painting, illustration)
- Thriller, mystery, and horror
- Religion and culture
- Biographies and autobiographies
As you can see, any fictitious topic such as dystopian fantasy and gritty crime thrillers are within your reach. Even real-life topics that involve historical or factual information are absolutely within your grasp, given you have the knowledge and passion for writing about them well.
Things like gardening and art are topics you can easily write about if you have the practical experience and have done basic research on them. You don’t need to go to agricultural school to write about self-sufficient living or go to Julliard to write about how to play the cello.
Having a degree in music might make readers feel that you are more of a trustworthy authority on the cello. Having a botany degree might make people trust your advice on how to revive endangered plant species.
Still, these are pieces of knowledge that anyone can acquire and publish a book about.
The important thing is that, formal credentials or not, the information in the book is truthful, well-researched, and well-rounded.
Publishing a Book: The Research Phase
Any book on any topic worth the paper it’s typed on is written by someone who thoroughly researched their chosen topic or genre. Below are three ways to substantiate your writing.
Read Work You Want To Emulate
If you want to publish a good book, you’ll want to read lots of books. Classics, award-winning, terrible, biased, scientific, every kind of book you can think of will help you develop your style, but it will also help you decide what you want and don’t want your final work to look like.
You need to understand how other minds have contextualized and understood particular topics and genres.
Horror writers should read horror books and short stories, and watch horror movies. This will help them to learn key aspects of the genre and common themes and tactics used by other authors to create suspense and a particular atmosphere.
In all genres, especially sci-fi and fantasy, there are endless different movements reflecting real-life culture shifts. Writers will likely benefit from researching and being aware of them.
To break the rules and make something unique, it can help to understand what some people regard as the rules.
Find Credible Sources
There’s so much information available for writers on virtually every topic imaginable. However, it can often be challenging to discern what sources are credible with this wealth of information.
Over time, you develop the ability to identify a credible source, but to start, here are some credible online and physical resources for research:
- Statistics and financial data can be accessed through government sites that often end with “.org,” “.gov,” or “.edu.”
- Academic papers are readily available on websites like JSTOR, Google Scholar, SAGE Publications. and most online university libraries.
- Historical information and data can be accessed through your country’s national archives, which are sometimes even available online. You can also access a lot of information regarding through National Geographic, Discover Magazine, and museums/museum websites in your area.
- For more information on a personal level, don’t refrain from asking people with lots of experience. Interview university professors, email other writers and enthusiasts, and share information.
Seek Out Experiences
Not even the most credible scientific paper can tell you how it feels to experience something. As well as being well-researched, your writing could have an element of emotion to it that can only come from personal experience, such as your own or that of someone you know.
If you’re writing about the catacombs under Paris, you should go there.
If you’re writing about the best vegan recipes, you could make and eat all of them yourself. There are probably few topics that you can write a book about that will not be bettered by personal experience.
You don’t need a degree to write a book about most things. Writing and publishing a successful book consists of doing your research, understanding your subject and genre, and having a deep interest and dedication to your craft and your subject matter.