The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: November 16, 2018

Halfway through AcWriMo 2018, this week’s collection of articles from around the web explores topics of where to write, new options for sharing research efforts beyond the published results, and topics of etiquette and legal requirements in the modern communication age.

The collection begins with an article highlighting some of our discussion points from the 11/9 #AcWriChat TweetChat event hosted by TAA, written by Janet Salmons on the SAGE MethodSpace blog. We follow with thoughtful consideration of research theory, different methods for disseminating research efforts beyond words on a printed page or digital replicate, and new places for sharing our research, including public forums, podcasts, and new open access platforms. Our collection closes with topics of communication etiquette and the information needed for informed consent.

We hope that you are finding success in your writing as we enter the back half of AcWriMo 2018. Happy writing!

From solo to global: AcWriMo

Writing is usually a solitary activity. Staring at our monitors or notebooks, we wonder: is this brilliant or nuts? Is this straightforward and clear, or so simplistic that the reader will yawn? Have we written something that will entice the reader to follow our train of thought, or will they jump off with the next distraction? The way novelist Helen Garner described her work as a writer resonates with me:

the absolute inability, while you are working, to judge whether or not what you are doing has any value at all– thus the blind faith and grim stubbornness required in order to keep going; the episodes of elation, the occasional sense of hitting your stride, or of being in tune with the force that creates–the feeling that now you’ve got it, now you can’t put a foot wrong…

12/11 TAA Webinar: Video Creation for Textbook Authors and Instructors

Videos are increasingly integral to the learning process. As a textbook author, you can increase the value of your book for both students and instructors by creating and publishing videos linked to your content. As an instructor, videos you create to supplement your course can help students review and retain material outside the classroom. Join us Tuesday, December 11 from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, ‘Video Creation for Textbook Authors and Instructors,” where presenter Sasha Vodnik, a computer programming textbook author, will survey free tools for recording and production, as well as popular paid alternatives, and examine the tradeoffs. He’ll also walk through the steps to record video and audio, put it together, and publish it online.

Cultivating a relationship with a publisher; sooner rather than later

Most academics and authors want to have a productive relationship with a publisher or publishers. It eases the road ahead and makes the process less mysterious. A good (or dare I say great) relationship with a publisher will also give an academic market knowledge about their chosen area of authorship and its readers. But how do you go about cultivating such a relationship?

The first step is to start now. Waiting until after the research and writing is done it like going on vacation and only reading about your destination after you’ve landed at the airport. Sure, you know about the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, but what else is there to do?

5 Surprising lessons for writers from the business world

Like most writers, I keep bumping up against articles on how to treat my writing more like a business. And probably like many writers, I rebel at this advice, always trying to pry more time for the writing itself. But in an infrequent browse through an older business publication, I stumbled on an article that didn’t give me administrative agita. Even immersed in creative bliss, a writer can hardly resist the title: “Ten Traits That Make You Filthy-Rich” by Jeffrey Strain (TheStreet.com, February 1, 2008).

The five points I discuss here from Strain’s evergreen article  may be new to writers. The parallels remind us what we need to do not only to become rich (yes, it’s possible) but to stay true to our writing potential. (Strain’s traits are in italics.)  

#AcWriChat: A year in review

To celebrate Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo) 2017, TAA teamed up with member Janet Salmons from SAGE MethodSpace to begin a series of TweetChats on academic writing topics using the Twitter hashtag #AcWriChat. Throughout the year, TAA has continued to moderate TweetChat events every other Friday at 11am ET.

Beginning Friday, November 2nd, plan to join us for a weekly #AcWriChat event during #AcWriMo 2018 focusing on the 5 W’s of Academic Writing. But for now, as we reach the anniversary of our first #AcWriChat event, we want to take a look back at the year in review. Below is a summary of the questions discussed during our first twenty-six #AcWriChat TweetChats.

Dear dissertation advisers: Focus on the practical dimensions of the research project

Generally speaking, this may be the least common of the “bad feedback” issues that I see, but it can be crushingly bad feedback. Many, many professors try to force their students to look at the practical dimensions of the project and try to get the students to do less. Almost every professor I ever worked with told me some variation of “do less,” and many students with whom I’ve worked have also been told to try to do less, so I know it’s no rare idea, but some students could really benefit from this advice.

I have two main suggestions here: 1. Get the students to reduce the scope of their project if possible and reasonable, and 2. Explicitly focus on the practical dimensions as a reason to make the project smaller in order to reduce the emotional impact of being told to do less. 

10 Things independent authors should invest in to be successful

During her 2018 TAA Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “Independent Publishing: Securing a Return on Your Investment, A Practical Approach to Indie Publishing”, Margaret Thompson Reece shared benefits of independent “indie” publishing options, including greater control and distribution options, flexible pricing, and easier editing.

These benefits, however, are not without cost. Below are the ten investments Reece said authors must make to be successful book publishers.

Textbook authors settle lawsuit over Cengage Unlimited

Textbook authors David Knox and Caroline Schacht have settled their lawsuit with Cengage over its Cengage Unlimited subscription service for an undisclosed sum. Under the terms of the agreement, the rights to the authors’ textbook, Choices in Relationships, will revert back to them, and Cengage will receive all rights to the authors’ remaining textbooks, Marriage and the Family, and Understanding Social Problems.

Cengage authors David Knox and Caroline Schacht filed a class action lawsuit against Cengage on May 14, claiming the company’s emphasis on digital distribution, including its new Cengage Unlimited model and expanded digital courseware offerings, violated their publishing agreements, and that the company was refusing to provide information that would allow them to audit their royalty payments.

Querying literary agents

Literary agents, to many, are elusive creatures; difficult to find and communicate with in their native habitat.  Maybe like a panda or a snow leopard. Last month I wrote about whether you needed a literary agent. The majority of academic authors likely do not need one. Some, however, will need or benefit from one.

Briefly, an agent represents writers and their written works to publishers. They assist in the sale and negotiation between the writer and the publisher.

Let’s say you do want to try to secure one: how do you proceed?

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