Welcome new members to TAA: February 2021

With membership in TAA, you are not alone. You become part of a diverse community of textbook and academic authors with similar interests and goals. We are pleased to announce the addition of 171 new TAA members who joined us in February 2021. 

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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: February 26, 2021

What are your writing goals? And, more importantly, what are you doing to reach them? According to Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

For many authors, the first step is a shift in mindset to seeing yourself as an author. In addition to facing this potentially overwhelming task, our collection of articles has advice on taking other steps along the way too. Whether defining a writing agenda, exploring the process of writing a book, figuring out what to do, writing and revising, or planning the next phase of your academic career, we have posts to help. There’s also information on joining a writing community, rights and royalties for spoken word, and the democratization of knowledge.

Whatever the task ahead, break it down, focus on the first step, and get started. Happy writing!

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Project management: Two free tools to increase efficiency in your writing projects

Project management was originally developed for civil engineering, but even if you are writing a book instead of building a bridge, there are useful approaches to borrow that will improve your work flow. In a previous article, I described that within project management, tools can be roughly divided into “project definition tools” and “implementation tools.” Project definition tools are those that help you determine the scope, the tasks, and the budget (i.e., time), whereas implementation tools are those that help you conduct the work. Here, I focus on the latter, and present two tools from the lens of project management for writing.

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TAA announces 2021 Textbook Award winners

2021 Textbook Awards by the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). Six textbooks received William Holmes McGuffey Longevity Awards, nine textbooks received Textbook Excellence Awards, and ten textbooks received Most Promising New Textbook Awards.

The McGuffey Longevity Award recognizes textbooks and learning materials whose excellence has been demonstrated over time. The Textbook Excellence Award recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials. The Most Promising New Textbook Award recognizes excellence in 1st edition textbooks and learning materials.

The awardees will be recognized during an online textbook awards ceremony at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, March 19, 2021. The ceremony will be open to anyone who would like to help celebrate this year’s winners. Information about how to participate in the ceremony will be posted next week.

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Academic podcasting: The time is now

Podcasting is an easily produced, but powerful, medium to connect with potential or current textbook users, scholars in your discipline niche, readers of your work, and potential consulting clients. It can extend your brand and expand your professional network.

I have been mentioning in TAA media that now is great time—the very best time—to start an academic podcast. A hundred thousand new podcasts are being launched each month and podcast listenership is growing rapidly as mobile devices add native podcast apps, and platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and Audible add podcasts to their offerings. We are just now at the point where “start a podcast” is about to overtake “start a blog” as a search term in Google Trends.

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Writing and systems: Beyond strategies, beyond tools

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad 2020 has ended. The year was exhausting and disrupting on so many levels. I watched my productivity hang on like a spider web in a hurricane, and my soul curl up inside, challenging assumptions, questioning most everything. Invariably, I thought quite a lot about my academic writing; I wrote very little. I thought more than I wrote, yes, but the thinking nurtured the writing, offered renewed perspectives. With these, hope revived. With hope, the deep satisfaction of having stayed the course, having written somethingeven if not enough – and been sustained by the writing habit, by the comfort and familiarity of a writing routine.

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Member Spotlight: Brian Shmaefsky

TAA Member Brian Shmaefsky is a Professor of Environmental Science and both a textbook and academic author writing in the disciplines of environmental science and human disease and anatomy. His most recent publication is Phytoremediation: In-Situ Applications.

What are you currently working on?

An environmental science textbook and several human disease books in a deadly diseases and epidemics series.

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Featured Member Paul Krieger – Working with small publishers, niche markets, and alternative publishing opportunities

Paul Krieger is an award-winning professor and the creator, author, and illustrator of Morton Publishing’s Visual Analogy Guide series. Due to the success of his first book on human anatomy in 2004 (now in its 5th edition), this unique book concept quickly evolved into a four-book series. He is Professor Emeritus of Biology at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan and also works as a scientific illustrator.

Here Paul discusses the evolution of his writing career, including decisions about publishers, alternative publishing opportunities in the educational teaching materials market, and lessons learned through his years in the industry.

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Specifying the end: Project management as applied to writing

Is project management really an essential writing process? While academic authors certainly recognize that writing requires many unique processes, each deserving attention, we rarely think beyond research, drafting, and revision. Yet, how well we manage projects can make or break the outcome. Case in point, if you miss the deadline for a special issue, it hardly matters how well your paper was aligned with the editor’s vision! Even when outcomes are not so dire, project management allows you to work in a calmer and less reactive manner, thus allowing for greater creativity.

Within formal project management, the tools can be roughly broken into “project definition tools” and “implementation tools.” In general, project definition tools are procedures that help you determine the scope, the tasks, the time frame, and the budget (i.e., time). Implementation tools are those that help you work smoothly. Here I focus on the former.

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Is self-publishing right for you?

I have previously written about the rise of self-publishing. The phenomenon has made quite an impact on the world of publishing this past decade. It has transformed some areas of fiction to a significant degree. But in your area of the world, is it right for you? There are some key topics to consider as you make some important decisions.

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