How to reimagine and redesign textbooks to reach and engage students

elearningAre textbooks merging with online courses? Will textbook content increasingly be delivered in the form of digital modules that can be integrated into course learning systems? What does this mean for textbook authors and editors? How should textbook content be designed to work best in online learning environments?

Since 2009, I have been working in dual roles, and I’ve witnessed a transition that has moved faster than anyone anticipated. As a long-time development editor, and now author, in the textbook industry, I have watched a rapid transition from print to digital publishing models. Most of the major commercial textbook publishers have passed the point at which more than half of their sales revenue is coming from digital products. By no means is print dead when it comes to textbooks, but print texts certainly inhabit a changed landscape. [Read more…]

Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Pedagogy and marketing involvement

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsA few weeks ago, I reached out to winners of the 2017 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. I had so many great responses I decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use.

This third installment in the five-part series focuses which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book. [Read more…]

Textbook development tip: Aim for good expository writing

Write wellThe best way to ensure clarity is to write well. When editors mark passages “Not Clear,” they are not being stupid but are basing their judgments both on the perceived needs of your target audience and on standards of good expository writing. All good writing for any audience at any educational level has the same basic qualities, including clarity, concision, unity, coherence, and emphasis. Wordiness is perhaps the greatest enemy of good writing. [Read more…]

Join us 3/22 for the TAA webinar, ‘Author Q&A: Writing and Developing Your College Textbook’

Stephen GillenSean WakelyMary Ellen LepionkaJoin us Wednesday, March 22 at 3-4 p.m. ET, for the TAA webinar, Author Q&A: Writing and Developing Your College Textbook. The authors of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook will share insights into the higher education publishing industry, textbook contract negotiation, and textbook development. Learn the two-three key trends in the higher education publishing industry about which an author or prospective author should know; [Read more…]

TAA announces 2017 Textbook Award winners

2017 TAA Textbook Award WinnersTwenty-three textbooks have been awarded 2017 Textbook Awards by the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). Six textbooks received William Holmes McGuffey Longevity Awards, 10 textbooks received Textbook Excellence Awards, and seven textbooks received Most Promising New Textbook Awards.

The McGuffey Longevity Award recognizes textbooks and learning materials whose excellence has been demonstrated over time. The Textbook Excellence Award recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials. The Most Promising New Textbook Award recognizes excellence in 1st edition textbooks and learning materials. [Read more…]

Textbook contract clauses: Understanding advances and grants

Guide to Textbook Publishing ContractsStephen GillenAn advance is a pre-payment of royalties to be earned upon the publication of your textbook. It will be recouped out of the royalties first accrued from the commercial exploitation of your work. It is not uncommon for publishers to agree to advance from 50% to 100% of expected royalties on projected first year sales. The advance may or may not be refundable if your manuscript is rejected and your contract is cancelled.

A grant, conversely, is a payment intended to cover some or al of the out-of-pocket costs of research and/or manuscript preparation. It is generally not recouped out of accrued royalties, and like the advance, may or may not be refundable in the event the manuscript is rejected. [Read more…]

How I met my first textbook acquisitions editor

Math for Health Care ProfessionalsI was introduced to my first acquisitions editor through the recommendation of a colleague.

At the time, our state had added a new course in infection control to our curriculum and none of the instructors had been able to send an acceptable book that included the necessary content for teaching infection control to health care providers. Since I had some experience in this area, I compiled my notes and handouts into a self-published 48-page booklet, which I provided to my students at no cost. A colleague at another college asked if I would make this booklet available for his classes, so I contracted with a local printer to produce the booklets and sold them to the college bookstore. [Read more…]

10 Disaster control guidelines for your textbook schedule

scheduleDrafting and production schedules are more important than one may think in the world textbook publishing. At the same time, deadlines can be burdensome for authors. Missing them is a principal cause of marketplace failure. An untimely textbook, finding no uncommitted customers by the time it reaches them, is doomed. Furthermore, postponement—pushing back a product another whole adoption cycle—is usually not a good option.

The best way to deal with schedules is to master them at the very beginning through realistic planning, starting with a drafting calendar. [Read more…]

Textbook development: 5 Tips for controlling length

LengthYou might be informed by your copy editor that your textbook manuscript is too long. Say, for example, your copy editor has returned five of your chapters marked as seriously over length. Instructions say to reduce length by the equivalent of three manuscript pages per chapter. Reading over the manuscript, barring a word here or there, you believe there is simply no way you can cut without destroying the brilliance and integrity of your exposition. You ask if the book can just be made sixteen pages longer. The answer, categorically, is no, because of the cost. What should you do? [Read more…]

Download a sample of TAA’s newest book, ‘Writing and Developing Your College Textbook’

Writing and Developing Your College TextbookWriting and crafting a textbook and attending to authoring tasks is a time-consuming, complex—some would say monumental—project, even harrowing at times. The updated and expanded third edition of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook, will guide you through the nuts and bolts of the textbook development process, and provide essential background information on the changing higher education publishing industry, as well as how to choose a publisher, write a textbook proposal, negotiate a publishing contract, and establish good author-publisher relations.

Subscribe to our email list and we’ll send you a 17-page sample of the book.  [Read more…]