Subconscious productivity: Accessing your inner self

As a Subconcious Mindwriter, I battle with procrastination, always have. At times I also find it strangely hard to revise my work. But in graduate school I hit upon a way of using my procrastination to produce nearly final copy the first time. The “method” was suggested to me by reading the Autobiography of Bertrand Russell. [Read more…]

6 Ways to identify predatory open access journal publishers

Predatory open-access journal publishers have increased exponentially in recent years, and a new publisher can be created in a single day, said Jeffrey Beall, a scholarly librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, and author of Scholarly Open Access, a blog that tracks and critically analyzes questionable open access publishers and journals.

To help you avoid becoming a target of one of these predatory publishers, Beall offers 6 warning signs to help you identify them: The journal does not identify a formal editorial/review board.

View Beall’s list of predatory publishers on his blog, Scholarly Open Access.

Insights on working with editors: An interview with Elsa Peterson

Elsa Peterson

Elsa Peterson

Copyright and PermissionsElsa Peterson has more than 20 years of experience in textbook and academic publishing as a freelance permissions editor, picture researcher, and developmental editor. Her most recent in-house position was as a senior developmental editor for psychology with McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Peterson recently authored a brief and accessible guide to copyright in the context of publishing titled Copyright and Permissions: What Every Writer and Editor Should Know (New York: Editorial Freelancers Association, 2012). She has also authored numerous articles about the business and craft of editing, and has presented TAA audio conferences on editing and copyright.

Peterson spoke with TAA about the roles of editors and where they fit within the authoring process.

TAA: Can you describe the different editorial services you provide?

Elsa Peterson: “I primarily do developmental editing, which involves working closely with an author to bring the vision for the book to fruition. Development is a long-term process that usually begins with the author’s proposal and extends through the turnover of the manuscript to production. When I do permissions editing, my task is to identify all the material in a manuscript that is under copyright, find the rights holders, and secure their authorization to use the material. Similarly, picture research involves clearing permission to reproduce photographs and works of art; it also includes a creative dimension in helping the author to select the most effective visuals to convey the concepts being presented.” [Read more…]

How to use social media as an academic writer

Social mediaSocial media has become an influential force in both our personal and professional lives. According to Mark Carrigan, social media trainer and sociologist at the University of Warwick, social media offers many benefits for academic writers. In a recent TAA webinar entitled, ‘What On Earth Will I Tweet About?’: Feeling Comfortable with Social Media as an Academic, Carrigan shared some of those benefits.

“One advantage of social media for academic writers is that it allows you to have an independent presence online so if you switch institutions, you can still easily be found,” Carrigan said. Since many academics work at multiple educational institutions during their careers, an independent online presence can be an invaluable networking and promotional tool.

Social media platforms can offer many advantages in both the pre- and post-publication stages of textbooks and journal articles. [Read more…]

6 Self-publishing tips

Self-publishing using desktop publishing software offers textbook authors a viable alternative to traditional publishing methods. Patrice Morin-Spatz, self-published author of the McGuffey Award winning textbook cpTeach Expert Coding Made Easy!, and Mark Lerner, professional desktop publisher, recommend that authors use programs such as InDesign or QuarkXPress, or hire an experienced desktop publisher to arrange text, images, tables, and charts into a polished and professional finished product.

Morin-Spatz and Lerner offer the following six tips to help ensure that your experience with self-publishing is a success: [Read more…]

Think of yourself as a writer

Authors need to understand the process by which their manuscript will be evaluated and take that into account when they submit. If a smart recent college graduate can’t decode what your book is about, you’re in trouble.Writing

When I graduated from college I hoped to land a job working on a dude ranch in Wyoming. Instead, I fell into a career in scholarly publishing, acquiring books for Oxford University Presses. I realize now that as an editor I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to the prose. I cared more about the ideas than about how well they were expressed, at least that’s what I told myself. It wasn’t true.

I would stand over the credenza to choose which of the many long-ago-submitted manuscripts I was going to tackle next. I liked manuscripts with subheads that helped to signpost the argument. Some looked inviting—they got me interested at the first sentence, and I kept reading while I walked back to my office. However, the ones with paragraphs that went on forever, their page-long sentences cobbled together with semicolons, told me the authors didn’t give a hoot about my experience as a reader. Giant blocks of quoted material suggested the author was unwilling or unable to think independently. If the first few sentences contained heaps of words that no one ever spoke out loud, I knew I’d need a cup of coffee. Those were the manuscripts I left for later. Sometimes it would be months before I would get to them. Many months. [Read more…]

5 Tips & strategies to increase writing productivity

TAA has hosted many dynamic audioproductivity peak conferences focused on increasing writing productivity and writing project success. Following are five specific tips and strategies highlighted during presenter Dannelle Stevens’ TAA audio conference entitled, “5 Key Strategies to Boost Writing Power and Productivity”: [Read more…]

To be a successful writer, first you must promote

One of the most important parts of textbook publicity and marketing is the press release. A simple yet well-written document that is going to put who, what, where, why and how can I buy this book; out into the marketplace.

If you want media coverage, you’ve got to make your story newsworthy and make clear why anyone should care about your new book. And you’ve got to offer valuable lessons learned, tips, or other useful suggestions from which the readers, listeners, or viewers can benefit. Bullet points and statistics are always helpful.

On nice letterhead, a press release should always be one page. If it’s a must go to two pages but I wouldn’t recommend it. You want to capture the attention of a journalist, book reviewer, bookseller, academic department, distributor, etc. immediately, and time is of the essence.

At the top you can put “For Immediate Release” but it isn’t always a requirement. The dateline, date written out entirely and location (use AP style for stand alone cities and state abbreviations) will suffice. But before you get going on the text of the press release, remember the catchy headline and subhead.

The headline only has one job: to keep the reader reading! It should also be in about a 30-point font and bold. If you choose to make it outrageous, make sure you can back it up. You don’t want a journalist/department to call you and then not be able to support it! Also, remember who is readying it. It may need to be altered according to where it is being sent.

Like the headline, the first paragraph should be newsworthy and possess language that captures the reader’s attention and briefly tell, in one to two sentences, what is being announced. The second paragraph, what is called a nut graph in a journalist article, should summarize or present background of the topic.

After you list the important information about your book, it’s message, maybe the page length, new, interesting and innovative research, etc. you should close the press release with an author bio. Feel free to bold the name or state “About the author.”

Lastly, the final paragraph should offer contact information to the publisher, author, distributor or publicist and a Website or another go to place for additional information.

Now that the press release is written and proofread it must be put out over the wires and passed along to relevant audiences. With today’s Internet there are plenty of free service sites that will distribute a press release to national, if not global, recipients.

Michelle Blackley is a literary publicist in Buffalo, NY. She is also an adjunct lecturer of communication at Buffalo State College and a freelance writer.

Be a proactive textbook author: 9 strategies for success

Textbook StackPhysical geography author Robert Christopherson, who has the bestselling physical geography book in the United States and Canada, said being a proactive author has been his key to success.

Christopherson, who retired from teaching and now writes exclusively, shares nine strategies that have helped him become a proactive author: [Read more…]

When writing, focus on your strengths

Dave Harris

Dave Harris

There’s a world of knowledge out there and it all intertwines. The study of any one subject begins to touch on the boundaries of others, motivating study into the new subject. When reading and when writing, we learn new things, which could lead to feelings of treading on unfamiliar ground.

I’ve met some brilliant and hard-working people in my life in academia. I’ve met people who read articles by the bushel and books by the shelf, but I’ve never met one who had read everything worth reading. There’s too much knowledge out there for any one person to know everything there is to know and to read everything that has been written. And, of course, we recognize this; it is the motivation behind the specialization all around us. Nonetheless, it is not unusual to become paralyzed by the sense that we don’t know enough.

At some point we have to stop looking for something new to learn—some new answer or some new scholarly source on which to rely—and start trying to figure out what answer works for you. We must shift from merely accepting the work of others to beginning to explicate your own voice, your own wisdom, your own discovery. This is central to academic work. Though we may stand on the shoulders of giants, still we must add our own height.

If you are trying to write a dissertation or thesis, the time to stop reading is now. Universities do not set you on a dissertation expecting you to read—they expect you to write. The criteria for getting your dissertation accepted is not based on what you’ve read, but on what you have written. Of course you are expected to have done some reading. But the dissertation is about writing—it is about completing a written work.

Think of it this way: which person is more likely to have their dissertation accepted: Person A, who has read everything there is to read on his/her subject, and has written only an incomplete dissertation draft or Person B, who has written a complete work that uses only a handful of sources?

The answer is obvious: person A, lacking a complete work for submission, has no chance of having a dissertation accepted, while person B, has a real chance of getting his/her dissertation accepted.

At some point you have to stop reading and researching and start writing—and what you use to write is your strengths—those things that you have studied, and especially those things that you know best. Rather than trying to fill in all the gaps in your knowledge, and rather than spending your time focusing on those gaps, focus on what you do know. Focus on using the strengths that you have developed during your studies. Focus on what you know best. Use the material that you do have.

Of course it is necessary to do some research and some reading; of course it is necessary to be diligent and careful and to be aware of the limitations of our knowledge. Your work should not be founded simply on your untested opinions. There must be a solid foundation, not one of dreams. But if you have built a solid foundation, rely on it; focus on the strength it gives.

Dave Harris, Ph.D., academic writing coach and editor, helps writers rework their writing process, fine-tune their final drafts, and everything in between (www.thoughtclearing.com; dave@thoughtclearing.com).
Copyright © 2007, Dave Harris. All rights reserved