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3 Tips to succeeding as a textbook author

Photo of Michael Sullivan Textbooks

TAA Council member Michael Sullivan recently authored a new textbook entitled CALCULUS, Early Transcendentals. Published by W. H. Freeman and coauthored with Kathleen Miranda, the book is aimed to serve the three-semester Calculus sequence (12-13 semester hours) for students majoring in mathematics, engineering, the natural sciences, and other related areas. Sullivan has authored or coauthored over 100 textbooks, including subsequent editions, in Calculus, Precalculus (including College Algebra and Trigonometry), Finite Mathematics, and Business Calculus. His publishers include Pearson Education, John Wiley and Sons, and W. H. Freeman.

An Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Chicago State University, Sullivan has been writing textbooks for more than 35 years and currently has 15 books in print. Here he shares three tips for succeeding as a textbook author:

1) You can never have too many reviews.

Whether it’s your first book or a revision, get as many reviews as you can and always insist on more than your publisher suggests. If you are revising, get diary reviews from users as they teach from your text. In addition, try to get reviews from non-users comparing your book to the one they use. Most importantly, pay close attention to what reviewers have to say. Their comments and insight can greatly impact the success of your book.

2) Do the important stuff yourself.

Be hands-on in all aspects of the process and don’t rely on others to do things like exercise development, proof reading, answers, etc. You are investing a lot of time and effort into writing a book; it is well worth going the extra mile to get the end product that you want.

3) Get involved in the selling process.

This begins with preliminary marketing efforts and continues through the selling season. Sales reps should feel comfortable contacting you, and you should be comfortable and willing to make phone calls or send emails to professors.

Share your tips to succeeding as a textbook author.