Tactics that authors use to break writer’s block, such as playing solitaire, exercising or eating, can be both helpful and hurtful, said Drema Albin, a post-internship resident in the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Counseling Services Unit. These strategies can work more as distractions, said Albin, keeping authors from sitting down and writing. She recommends authors instead make a point to put something down on paper, even if it is just “I can’t think of anything to write” over and over. “The outcome of the writing is not as important as being engaged in the process,” said Albin.
Six textbook authors share their textbook proposal writing tips:
“Make sure there is a demand for your book that currently is not being met by exisiting texts.”
David J. Ellenbogen, author of Elementary Algebra: Concepts and Applications
“Beware of putting anything in writing too early, since some editors will take your preliminary ideas to be definite proposals. When you do write the proposal, assume it will be your last chance to convince an editor to take an interest in the project. Also keep in mind that no matter how convinced you are that your book will be the best in the field, you have to make that clear to the editor, and you also have to explain to the editor how that is going to be clear to potential adopters.”
Steven Barkan, a professor of sociology at the University of Maine, and the author of five textbooks and one tradebook, shares the following ten tips for preparing your next edition:
1. The worst is over, but much yet is to be done. The first edition of a textbook takes much more time than any later editions, so the worst is over as you begin to prepare the next edition. However, the next edition can take much more time that one might expect. Research, data, and references must all be updated. Regardless of how long you expect the preparation of the next edition to take, it will probably take longer. The good news is that it will still take much less time than the first edition.
Marketing your textbook is about author-publisher cooperation, says mathematics author Michael Sullivan. He shares 13 ways authors can market their textbook before the writing begins, as the writing progresses, before publication, after publication and when preparing for the second edition.
The project is not the subject. The project is not the thesis. Whether you are writing your dissertation, a journal article, or a book, the project is not simply the thesis. When I ask people about their projects the answer I get is always (or almost always) the subject of the project. Sometimes I ask specific questions like “what kind of project? Is it a dissertation? A thesis?” And still the answer I get is the subject of the project. But your project is not just about a subject; it has a certain form. It is a journal article, a dissertation, a book. It has a certain intention—to share a discovery, to support a position, to instruct others. It is aimed at a certain audience—peers, or students, or educated lay people.
If you can see that form, and understand how that form relates to the work you’re trying to accomplish, then the writing process becomes much easier: it’s less a shot in the dark, and more a purposeful action.
Successful contract negotiation requires knowing “what you’re willing to give up and what you’re not,” said authoring attorney Michael Lennie, with Lennie Literary & Author’s Attorney.
Authors should negotiate better terms on several contract provisions, he said. They include: