Join us for the 4/24 TAA Webinar, ‘Texts Plus: Ancillary Materials and Companion Websites’

Janet SalmonsYou have completed the textbook manuscript, now what? Some publishers expect you to develop ancillary materials for companion sites they host. If not, you might want to create your own.

Join us Monday, April 24 from 3-4 p.m. ET, for the TAA webinar, “Texts Plus: Ancillary Materials and Companion Websites”. Textbook writer Janet Salmons will share and critique examples of companion websites from major publishers and individual authors. She will evaluate the types of materials posted, including media, instructional or student resources. [Read more…]

Listen to podcasts on writing, editing, contracts, time management & more

Podcast LibraryTAA members have access to a library of 60-90 minute podcasts on topics such as writing, editing, contracts, royalties, taxes, copyright, time management and more, presented by a variety of industry experts. This resource is free for members. Join TAA today for as little as $15.

Topics include:

Textbook Writing | Textbook Publishing | Contracts & Royalties | Taxes | Copyright | Marketing | Supplements | Indexing | Ebooks & Open Access | Textbook Proposals | Academic Writing | Academic Publishing | Academic Editing | Academic Books | Grant Writing | Time Management | Social Media for Academics | Tenure & Promotion [Read more…]

How to create textbook supplements

Karen Timberlake

Karen Timberlake

Chemistry author Karen Timberlake created a website for the seventh edition of her textbook, Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Inorganic and Biological Chemistry (now in its 10th edition) several years ago, before publishers entered the Internet and began adding online materials such as website supplements to textbook packages.

At Timberlake’s website, students can access learning and teaching activities that complement both her chemistry classes for allied health and her Chemistry textbook, including:

CheModules: PowerPoint Tutorials (PPTS) use mini-lectures and short learning checks to actively engage students in learning.

ChemLinks: Web sources related to each of the topics may enhance a student’s study and learning.

LecturePLUS: Chemodules using (PPTS) develop important chemistry concepts for many topics in the allied health and preparatory chemistry courses.

Books: These give more information on the textbook and supplements.

Quizzes: Self-graded quizzes give practice and immediate feedback on topics covered in chemistry for allied health.
[Read more…]

Should you receive royalties on derivative products?

Q: “Should I receive royalties on products such as Vango Notes and other derivative products?”

“I have a business textbook with Pearson/Prentice-Hall. I picked Pearson for this book because I really like the level of development they invest in new projects, and now that we are in the second edition, the book is doing reasonably well. With the second edition Pearson also launched a VangoNotes version of our book. This is how the Vango site describes them:

‘VangoNotes are exclusively for Pearson Education textbooks. Some VangoNotes subject texts may still be helpful, so browse by subject at Alternatively, your professor may be able to recommend a Pearson textbook that will be relevant for your class.’

I’ve listened to the material on my book and it could be a substitute for it (though in brief), and the quote above clearly suggests that Pearson/Vango view the resources as interchangeable. I don’t receive royalties on VangoNotes, even though it is essentially a summary version of the book, by chapter. Does anyone have some guidance for me as to what steps I should/could take to remedy this? I have talked with another Pearson author who has the same experience and concern. I also have experience with another publisher, Flat World Knowledge, which pays me a royalty on all derivative products related to my book, even study aids. My sense is that this is coming from the legal side of Pearson, not the editorial side, and I like working with my current editor.” [Read more…]

Should you create resource materials for a textbook to sell commercially?

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “Is permission needed from a publisher to develop resource materials for a textbook if those materials will be sold commercially or is it just necessary to have a disclaimer?”

A: Elsa Peterson, a freelance editor with 25 years of experience in the college textbook industry:

“I’ve done a fair amount of permissions editing over the years, which doesn’t equip me to give a comprehensive answer to your question, but I’ll give you my perspective. I think there are a couple of different points to address here.

You plan to sell the resource materials commercially. This means you’ll be in direct competition with the ancillaries that come with the textbook, either free with adoption or for an additional price. The publisher would undoubtedly take a dim view of your competing in this manner, and therefore would be sensitive to any possible copyright infringement you may have committed if you sold your resource materials without obtaining permission. While the textbook’s title and the name(s) of its author(s) are not subject to copyright protection, it’s hard to imagine how you would create resource materials without using any content from the book itself. I think you’d have a hard time arguing fair use if you did use such content — even very brief excerpts of it — for this purpose.]

What kind of disclaimer did you have in mind? Has the publisher/distributor that proposes to sell your resource materials given you a sample disclaimer wording? If so, I would ask an independent attorney to evaluate the wording.”

Can you claim royalties on workbook giveaways?

Q: “Years ago, when we wrote our first high school textbooks and workbooks, these items were sold to the schools and we received royalties on each component. Then as publishers began giving away more and more items to secure a big adoption (or a state listing), they began giving away ancillaries. Now they even give away some student books.

At first the publishers would give away the ancillaries they themselves had produced (without authors — as ‘managed’ items for which they had paid writers a flat fee). So at one point our publisher had a “managed” workbook, which they would give away; we got royalties on our authored workbook when it was sold.

Now they are often giving away both their ‘managed’ workbook and our ‘authored – royalty-bearing – workbook. Whereas the writers for the managed workbook were paid in advance, we as authors are not ‘paid’ until the workbook is sold. As the publishers give away more and more of our authored materials, our royalties decline substantially.

Do we have any recourse? For example, if they give away our authored materials, can we claim a royalties payment or equivalent payment? Any other suggestions?” [Read more…]

How to protect the copyright of CDs

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “How can I go about copy-protecting my CDs?”

A: Elizabeth Boepple:

“If anyone is interested in copy-protecting CDs (including preventing downloading to a hard drive or other removable media), I’ve learned it’s easy, and the software is free. The encoded CDs must be purchased from the software distributor, but their cost is insignificant compared to the cost of producing a print book. I also find their customer service and turn-around time from order to delivery to be excellent. (In this day of tech support in foreign countries spoken in barely intelligible folks of questionable competence, these folks not only gave me unlimited pre-sales time to describe the product, but talked me through my first time using the software (no, I’m not being paid for the endorsement).”

A: Doug Matthews, President, TeachingPoint:

“We have over 100 titles and we use Hexalock for our CD’s.”

A: Robert Martinengo, co-founder of the Center for Accessible Publishing:

“The folks on this list may be interested to know that thousands of electronic files of textbooks are freely given by publishers to colleges without any rights management. The catch is these files are only meant to be used for students with ‘print disabilities’ (please see my article).

In K-12, school districts are writing purchasing contracts that require the publisher to deposit electronic files in a repository, which can be accessed by ‘authorized agencies’, which can then distribute the files without permission or royalties, due to the Chafee copyright exemption:

Perhaps authors should get involved in these issues, for the sake of students with disabilities, and their own control over their content.”

Should you create textbook ancillaries yourself?

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “Should you create ancillaries yourself?”

A: Michael Sullivan, author of 50-plus mathematics textbooks:

“In the first edition of your book and if you’re in an area where a solutions manual is typical, do it yourself. The pattern of a solutions manual must match the way they are done in the example. If this is not consistent, it will be confusing to the reader. In later editions, you can have someone else do it because you’ve created the model for how to do it.”

Are you plagiarizing, or is it just research?

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I am authoring several elementary school English workbooks for a small press, and I want to make sure that I use vocabulary words that are proper to each grade. I have at my disposal several published workbooks, and I want to know if I can use, for instance, the vocabulary in a published Grade 4 workbook to write my own exercises for my own Grade 4 workbook. Is this just research, or am I plagiarizing the efforts of the companies that have compiled these words as appropriate for this grade?”

A: Jay Black, ethicist:

I applaud your sensitivity in recognizing the potential for plagiarizing someone else’s work. Your instincts are good. It strikes me that if you can refer to this and several other sources (see any fourth grade-level textbooks) to get the general gist of appropriate language, rather than rely on a single source, you’d be on far safer ground. Even if you do “revise” the work of another and incorporate it into your own text, you’re probably relying much too heavily on the other author’s intellectual efforts. You’ll have more satisfaction from creating your own stuff from scratch, or from a multitude of sources, won’t you?

Who owns the copyright to coursepacks I create for my lecture?

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “My question concerns my coursepack for my lecture, which is sold at our college bookstore. I created it at my home office using my own computer. It contains my own original illustrations, graphics, and charts. I contend that this is my intellectual property while the bookstore has recently made an attempt to copyright all coursepacks in the name of my college. I am quite sure that my college is taking liberties that it has no right to legally. What is the best method for me to proceed to prevent the college from stealing my intellectual property?”

A: Steve Gillen, publishing-law lawyer:

“As a general rule, you have a copyright in any original work of expression prepared by you and that right vests automatically the instant your work is recorded in a tangible medium. Provided the illustrations, graphics and charts in your course pack were created by you and not copied or adapted from some other source, this default rule would vest ownership of the copyrights in you. An important exception to this default rule is known as the work-for-hire doctrine. This doctrine provides that if you are an employee and if the creation of copyrightable works is within the scope of your duties, then ownership of the copyrights in works created within the scope of your job duties vests in your employer rather than in you. Although application of this principle in your case will depend upon the precise nature of your job duties as a professor at your college, it is entirely likely that the creation of materials in support of the courses you teach would be characterized as work-for-hire and would be owned by the college. However, many colleges have adopted formal written policies regarding ownership of the various forms of intellectual property that might be created by professors in the course of their teaching and research activities. Often, these policies cede ownership of the academic and educational articles and writings to the professors (in contrast to patents, which are generally owned by the college). Thus, you should look first to see if the college has a written policy concerning the ownership of writings prepared by professors. If not, you should look to see if there is a job description or contract that makes it clear that writing original support materials for your courses is a part of you duties as a professor. If there is no formal policy and there is no provision in your job description or any contract or in the past practices of the college providing that writing is a part of your job duties, then you might very well take the position that the college has no ownership interest in your work. That said, however, it is generally not a prudent course of action to take a position adverse to your employer without first carefully weighing all of the potential consequences, legal and otherwise, of such a course.”