Textbooks-to-trade shift not always easy

The trade book market can be lucrative, so it’s no wonder some indexingtextbook authors have their hands dipped into both pots. But how can a textbook author “cross over” to trade? Most literary agents agree that being academically published gives trade book-author wannabes extra credibility, but the question is, does the textbook author have what it takes to write for the trade book market. [Read more…]

What royalty rate should you expect for trade books?

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “A friend of mine has an extraordinary self-published book of photos that has garnered the attention of a national publisher but he has no idea what a reasonable royalty rate would be, and I have no idea if it would be anything akin to text royalties. I’d describe his work as similar to any other professional photographer level coffee table book (think of a book on nature, national parks, flowers, etc). Does anyone have any idea what any standard royalty rate for this genre of books is?”

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, Founder, Atlantic Path Publishing:

“Standard advance for books of that kind is in the 10k – 25k range. Standard royalty rate is 10% of net, but offers typically range between 7.5% and 12.5% of net for a textbook. Coffee table books are notoriously expensive to produce at quality.” [Read more…]

How to find a publisher that will be interested in your book

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I am working on my first book on an unconventional subject. How can I know the probability that publishers will be interested in publishing my book?”

A: Andrew Johnson, Ph.D., Professor of Holistic Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato:

“Two ways that I’ve used: 1) Examine books that have a similar topic or theme. See who publishes them; 2) Perform an internet search putting in your general topic and the word publisher. Get a sense for a company’s mission and publishing market.”

How to penetrate the university trade book market

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I am a new author of a book on managing a construction firm. I have several adoptions by professors teaching construction courses at the college level, but I would like to penetrate the university market more. I have been making quiet contact through email to them. Is there a better way? I have attended an educators conference in construction and that has been a very good introduction to several people and plan to go back to their summer meeting.”

A: Myrna Bell Rochester:

“I am guessing that your book is with McGraw-Hill ‘Professional’ or ‘Trade’ (based in Chicago), and not with McGraw-Hill Higher Ed. (I write for both of them in a different field.) You are doing the right thing to make your book known, with your personal marketing and making contacts in your own area. Whereas the McGraw Higher Ed division has a very well developed marketing system, McGraw Professional doesn’t (to my knowledge) go to schools and universities to market individual titles.

They rely on their catalogs, websites, word of mouth, and interest by individual booksellers. You might also re-contact the editor you originally worked with, and his/her supervisors, to ask specifically what is being done towards the marketing of your own book. Request that they run an ad in your trade journals, and tell them the names of those journals. They may not know, since they work in so many areas.”

A: Andrew P. Johnson, Professor of Holistic Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato, TAA Member:

“Have you thought about making conference presentations with lots of fliers, order forms, and books? If there are related conferences in this construction area, you might let McGraw-Hill know this. They can send a book rep or make arrangements to have some sort of display. Remember, they want your book to sell as much as you do.”

A: Richard T. Hull, TAA Executive Director:

“First of all, congratulations on getting your textbook on construction management published! The title is pure genius! I’m still trying to figure out how to manage a nonprofit organization on 20 hours a week, because it seems to take 20 hours a day!

Second, I think you have started well in contacting individual faculty who teach the course. Can you access the membership list of the organization that has the meeting you attended? Do they have a newsletter or website? You might try advertising in the newsletter or on the website.

See if you can get your book reviewed in one of the appropriate professional journals that those faculty likely read. See if your publisher will foot the bill for an ad in same.

Third, consider another market: engineering and construction organizations that actually do the construction management. I know a structural engineer; he is always reading to keep abreast in his field, and that behavior might net you some sales. I can even imagine such a firm ordering copies for a number of employees and having seminars devoted to discussion of your work. Graduates of such educational programs often maintain contact with their former profs, because they learn things in the field that can make for better courses.

Fourth, if there are student organizations of prospective construction managers, you might contact them and suggest that they look at sample chapters of your work, maybe on Amazon.com or another bookseller that will put up sample chapters, and treat it as an auxiliary to the text they are using. Yours is doubtlessly better than others in the field; maybe students will be sufficiently impressed to call it to their profs’ attention.

Fifth, submit your text to TAA’s Texty Award competition. If it wins, your publisher will get some nice stickers to put on comp copies that will indicate it is an award-winning text in its field. That should help sales.

Sixth, interacting with your publisher’s editors responsible for marketing is a great idea. One of our members really works on these connections, sending small gifts or flowers or candy to marketing reps. Amazing what gratitude and appreciation can do! Also, meet with your publisher’s staff several times a year to discuss their marketing plans, in order to see how you can augment them, improve them, etc.

Seventh, and finally, utilize the TAA listserv. Your question will be read by hundreds of TAA members who have dealt with similar problems in marketing their own texts. They may well respond with ideas you and I haven’t yet thought of.”