Authors express concern about new Cengage Unlimited subscription service

online booksCengage’s announcement of a new subscription service, Cengage Unlimited, that gives students at U.S. higher education institutions access to all of the company’s digital higher education materials for $119.99 a semester has Cengage authors concerned about how their contracts will be affected.

“I think the authors should find out as soon as possible how we are going to be paid,” said mathematics author Pat McKeague, who did not receive any information from his publisher about the new service prior to its public announcement, and has not been able to reach his editor for more information. “My contracts require my written permission before any electronic version of my book can be published.” [Read more…]

Not for the faint of heart: The art of truly understanding your royalty statement

royaltiesA royalty statement should be simple to understand, right? “Show me my sales and my royalty rate, perform a simple mathematical calculation, and — boom! There’s my royalty check!” But how often have you looked at your publisher’s royalty statement and muttered, “I have no idea where these numbers are coming from,” and spent hours trying to understand the calculations? Or perhaps you’ve become so frustrated that you simply gave up, took the royalty check out of the envelope, cashed it, and threw the rest of the statement in the recycling bin, reassuring yourself that the amount must be correct if it’s this complicated. [Read more…]

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…]