Fall 2020 TAA Writing Gym receives high marks

Thirty-five authors participated in TAA’s six-week Fall 2020 Writing Gym, which was held October 5-November 16. The gym included templates for tracking writing time and developing a six-week workout plan, a TAA Writing Gym-branded writing journal, weekly inspirational emails, 6 on-demand writing classes, several writing stations that allowed participants to target specific writing areas, and a Facebook Group for networking with other gym members.

In a survey sent out after the close of the fall gym, the majority of respondents gave the gym 5 stars. “The weekly writing classes and blog articles in the Writing Gym were very helpful, especially those about time management, managing multiple projects, and revising,” said participant Andrew Reyes. Participant Su-Jin Jung said: “I appreciate your support of my writing. I got lots of writing done during 6 weeks.” 

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What you need to know about “cross-collateralization”

It has an intimidating name. Indeed, it takes more letters to spell it than to put it into effect. But what is it and why is it bad for authors?

Most every book publishing contract will include a provision that obligates the publisher to periodically account to the author for the publisher’s sales of the author’s work. The language will probably look something like this:

Payments to the Authors will be made semiannually, on or before the last day of March and September of each year for royalties due for the preceding half-year ending the last day of December and June, respectively. If the balance due an Author for any royalty period is less than $50, no payment will be due until the next royalty period at the end of which the cumulative balance has reached $50. Any offsets (including but not limited to any advances or grant) against royalties or sums owed by an Author to the Publisher under this or any other agreement between the Author and the Publisher may be deducted from any payments due the Author under this or any other agreement between the Author and the Publisher.

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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: November 20, 2020

Some things are nearly certain in academic writing – especially uncertainty. Our collection of articles from around the web this week begins with embracing uncertainty for greater productivity and includes other valuable insight and resources.

Included in the list are the value of intellectual engagement, prompts for writing with literature, visuals in research, and safeguarding your research. The key to overcoming uncertainty, however, is to write. And to write now. Henry David Thoreau once said, “Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.” Happy writing!

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Making publication decisions

On Monday, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion titled, “What Do Publishing Trends Mean for Academic Writers?” hosted by Janet Salmons at SAGE MethodSpace. During the discussion with panelists, Rebecca Y. Bayeck and Sharon Zumbrunn, we addressed the question “What is your decision-making process about what to publish?”

This question encouraged a lot of great discussion that centered around three key decision-making principles: interest, audience, and impact.

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Will aggregated textbook products shift more risk to authors?

In a post on October 20, I described decisions made by the Southern District of New York in a lawsuit between authors and Cengage. The authors had alleged breach of contract as well as bad faith dealings by Cengage in regard to their products Cengage Unlimited and MindTap. Read about it here.

This is more of a thought piece—generated in part by an aspect of the authors’ allegations—about what would constitute goodfaith in a publisher’s interactions with authors. I ask this not as a legal matter, about which I am not qualified to opine, but as an ethical one.

The authors’ allegations stem from an uncontested aspect of both the MindTap and Cengage Unlimited royalty allocation models. In both products, Cengage counts a portion of each sale as non-royalty-bearing income. In the case of MindTap, that non-royalty-bearing portion is called ‘ancillary materials’ encompassing “tests, studies guides, exercises”. For Cengage Unlimited, this portion is called ‘courseware’ but apparently includes the same ancillary materials as MindTap.

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Time Management Survey respondents cite prioritization, procrastination issues as biggest challenges

As part of writing coach Mary Beth Averill’s TAA webinar on time management this month, we surveyed members anonymously on their time management challenges.

When asked what they saw as their biggest time management challenges, respondents highlighted scheduling, exhaustion, estimating how long their projects will take, and prioritizing. One person wrote, “waiting to the last minute and finding the project is bigger than I anticipated.” Another pointed out time of day: “First thing in morning: rituals of Internet headlines and email checking.” And, as academics, they have to answer to competing priorities: “The amount of service work required in academic work. Calculating how much time it takes to do things. Prioritizing my own work.”

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Will getting published achieve what you think it will?

People want to be published. Whether it is a journal article, textbook, monograph, dissertation, or something else, the urge to be published is palpable with many scholars, researchers, and academics. I work with many people and they all have different motivations: tenure, career advancement, to have their work disseminated, financial rewards, and more. Many have a sense of urgency to them.

But will getting published achieve what you think it will?

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Are you a crafter or a drafter?

Every author has their own personal style of writing and approach to the writing process. Whether that be a style guide preference, choice of genre, or organization of information, we are all individuals in the craft. I recently listened to an interview with Charlie Wetzel who, since 1994, has served as a writing partner for John C. Maxwell on more than 80 books.

According to Wetzel, authors can be categorized into one of two categories: crafters or drafters. Which are you? Let’s explore each to determine.

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12/9 TAA Webinar – Writing a Dissertation and Beyond: Tips & Tools for Launching and Maintaining Your Academic Writing Productivity

Writing productivity is important for academics at all levels. For graduate students, in particular, writing is essential for completing a dissertation. Unfortunately, approximately 50% of doctoral students do not complete their degrees, often dropping out during the dissertation writing stage. How can graduate students launch a healthy writing habit in order to complete their dissertations and maintain academic writing productivity as faculty?

Join us Wednesday, December 9 from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA Webinar,“Writing a Dissertation and Beyond: Tips & Tools for Launching and Maintaining Your Academic Writing Productivity”, presented by Danielle Feeney, Assistant Professor of Instruction in Special Education in the Patton College of Education, Ohio University; and Margarita Huerta, Associate Professor, Department of Early Childhood, Multilingual, and Special Education in the College of Education, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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How to shut down your inner editor

It can blare out while you’re working on any piece, anytime, anywhere. You’re writing along like butter, and suddenly a stomach-wrenching jolt slams you up against a concrete wall. That thunderous voice in your head rebukes: “THAT’S THE WORST, MOST HORRIBLE, STUPID PHRASE SINCE . . . .” And you’re paralyzed.

Take heart. Such a message doesn’t have to plunge you into a full block. Recognize it for what it is—your ever-present inner editor, often old programming, maybe residue of parental strictures, telling you that you shouldn’t be writing, you’ll never be a writer, and you might as well go sell burner phones (if that’s not your day job already).

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