How to part with your publisher when your textbook goes out of print

Textbook ResearchDuring the 2017 TAA Conference session, “Wanna Get Away? Maybe Now You Can: Parting with Your Publisher,” intellectual property attorney Stephen E. Gillen, a partner at Wood, Herron & Evans, said that one event that can open the door to parting with your publisher is when your textbook goes out of print.

When and how your textbook goes out of print is governed by your contract, said Gillen, which means it’s best to think about these situations in the early stages of negotiating your publishing contract. “They [your publisher] are probably going to be more inclined to make changes in that language in the beginning than they would be somewhere along the way,” he said. [Read more…]

Q&A: How do you phase out a co-author?

Textbook PublishingQ: How do you phase out a coauthor who is now retired and with whom you have worked with for many years?

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, co-author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide:

“The best way to phase out a co-author is to bring in a new co-author and increase the proportion of a new content, but so long as the book has original content contributed by the original author, that coauthor has a legitimate (and legal) stake in the book. Publishing industry standards for textbooks call for a gradual reduction in the royalty split, reflecting the reduced contribution, proportionally, to revisions. [Read more…]

Intellectual property attorney: First-time textbook author has leverage in contract negotiations

Stephen E. Gillen, author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide, says the first-time textbook author definitely has leverage in contract negotiations, and can negotiate changes in the standard publishing agreement.

Listen to the full interview

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…]

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…]

New spring 2017 TAA webinars – Improve your skills

TAA fall webinar seriesWhether you are interested in learning how to use social media to promote your writing, enhancing your approach to visuals, creating instructional media on a budget, writing and developing a college textbook, or creating ancillary materials and companion websites, TAA’s spring webinar series for textbook and academic authors has you covered. Join us as various industry experts share their expertise on academic and textbook writing topics. Sign-up early to reserve your spot! Not a TAA member? Learn more about member benefits and join today. [Read more…]

5 Things to consider when negotiating your textbook contract audit clause

royalty auditOne of the most important provisions in your textbook publishing contract is the audit clause, which will specify the conditions for how and when you can request and conduct an audit. In the absence of an audit clause, some publishers will still comply with a request to audit, although they are not contractually required to do so.

While the large publishers have calculated and paid royalties to thousands of authors, contract terms can vary, automated royalty systems have limitations, and the accounting teams at publishers are made up of human beings who can make mistakes. If an author wants a better understanding as to the calculation and accuracy of his or her royalties, the best course of action is to request a royalty audit. [Read more…]

Pre-order your copy of TAA’s newest book: ‘Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide’

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 a Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide, now available for pre-order, will empower you to undertake textbook development by guiding you through the nuts and bolts of the development process and providing 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. Click here to pre-order. [Read more…]

On Demand Webinar: 20 Tips & 20 questions for your next textbook deal

Stephen GillenIn this webinar, recorded at the 2016 TAA Conference on June 25, Stephen Gillen, a partner at Wood Herron & Evans, takes you on a tour of a typical textbook publishing contract, pointing out the highlights along the way – what’s usually negotiable; what’s often not negotiable; what questions to ask; and when to ask them.

The webinar is adapted from his book, Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts.

[Read more…]

‘Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts’ featured in ‘Wisconsin Bookwatch’

Blank square hardcover album templateThe following review of Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts was published in the June 2016 issue of Wisconsin Bookwatch, published by Midwest Book Review. It is being posted here with permission.


The forming of contracts to the benefit of authors is a subject never taught in any creative writing class or workshop but it is a vital and necessary skill — especially for writers of textbooks. In Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts, Stephen Gillen (a partner at the 145-year-old legal firm Wood Herron & Evans which specializes in intellectual property law) provides a complete and comprehensive course of instruction that is as ‘user friendly’ as it is do-it-yourself practical. [Read more…]