Posted on

Q&A: How to penetrate the university textbook adoption process

Q: “I am a new author of a textbook 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:

“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, Former TAA Executive Director:

“First of all, congratulations on getting your textbook on construction management published! Here are some thoughts:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Interact with your publisher’s editors responsible for marketing. 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.”