Don’t use a scalpel to peel an apple

One of my favorite people was the legendary football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant. One event stands out. Coach Bryant had won more games than had any other coach, and his institution, The University of Alabama, had won more national championships than any other institution. A rookie player had made a great touchdown and had let everyone know it by spiking the ball. The Bear calmly called him over to the bench and said, “Son, don’t act like this is the only time you have ever made a great play.”

Treat textbook authoring like a business: Create a home office just for authoring

Treating your authoring like a business means creating a home office just for authoring, said Robert Christopherson, author of the best-selling U.S. and Canadian geography textbook, Geosystems.

“Prepare your home office and writing studio as if it were a formal business,” he said.

Christopherson had a cabinet maker build a full desk, elevated bookcases, and lateral filing cabinets for storing his preparation files, into his home office. The desk takes up three walls, and in the corner — so no space is lost — there’s a 36-inch lazy susan for storing supplies. The bookcases are elevated to allow room for a 14-foot long cork board for tagging items on. “Around the computer, the cabinet maker built a large theater-organ like console so that the computer screen is surrounded by a workspace where things can be posted and set,” he said. “I work on big broadsheets a lot of

Getting to first base: How to pitch your textbook idea to publishers

You have a great idea. You know your book is needed. As you pick your way through the prospectus (or guidelines for authors), here are some thoughts about what editors are really looking for, the core messages to keep bringing home:

You know this market. Editors tell me that their number one question as they read a proposal is: ” Do we need this book”? To convince them, be familiar with every comparable text. Then, if possible, do your own informal survey to concretely make your case: “My colleagues at X, Y, Z university have been yearning for a book with this orientation.” “The existing texts do not fully capture the new trends (be specific) in my field.” ” Based on my intimate knowledge of our students my book will be ideal because it does A, B and C.” Inflated self-serving phrases such as this book is “utterly unique” or ” for all undergraduates” are total turn offs— signs of an author who doesn’t know the market, or, worse yet, is planning a text that is too weird ( won’t sell).

How & why to research your textbook market

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Grant writing: A game you can win

Grant writing is fun! It’s a way to get a lot of money, and more. I love it because it’s a game I know I can win. You can, too, if you use my game plan.

A former University of Florida classmate, whom I believe to be one of the best football coaches in the country today, recently gave us the first key to winning. When losing a game, he said, “I guess we just didn’t want it badly enough.” Like sports, grant-writing is competitive. Winning requires a plan, and more; it requires passion. Here’s my plan.

Manage your writing goals with ‘Pyramid of Power’

To help her clients focus on important tasks instead of wandering from task to task, Susan Robison, a psychologist and faculty development consultant with Professor DeStressor, created the “Pyramid of Power” — a pyramid-shaped goal-setting model.

“I chose the pyramid for the design of my model because that is the most stable structure you can construct,” she said. “It has a wide base and a narrow top, with your goals at the top. The model can work top down and bottom up.”

Many people operate with their goals as a huge top, with a very narrow bottom or no bottom at all, says Robison. “The goals are floating around up in the air and they aren’t anchored to anything,” she said. “The Pyramid of Power reverses that, anchoring your goals.”

The Pyramid of Power has four elements. They are, from the bottom up, said Robison: