2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Pedagogy and marketing involvement
We recently reached out to winners of the 2018 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. The first installment of this four-part series focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use.
This third installment in the four-part series focuses on which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book.
Q: Which pedagogical elements in your textbook are you most proud of?
Courtland L. Bovee, co-author of the 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Excellence in Business Communication, 12e: “The focus on real companies, galleries that focus on specific topics and show numerous photos with captions, checklists, and sidebars.”
Joseph Feher, author of the 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Quantitative Human Physiology: An Introduction, 2e: “Some of the originally drawings I think are pretty cool. However, what sets the text apart is the mathematical development or modeling of some physiological processes. That is the unique feature of the text. The Problem Sets are also rather unusual in a physiology text, and most of these problems were developed by me over decades. I am proud of the mathematical approach to the subject, which is reflected in the derivations in the text and in the problem sets. But I like many of the illustrations also, which I also produced.”
Heidi Neck, co-author of the 2018 Most Promising New Textbook Award winner, Entrepreneurship: The Practice and Mindset, 1e: “I am most proud of the ‘mindshifts’ in the text where students are required to take action – to do stuff. The text is really about acting in order to learn. I’m also proud of the exercises we provide for teachers to facilitate during the class. These exercises are not in the actual textbook, but are given to professors as ancillary materials. I don’t like ‘teaching to the text’ so I wanted to give faculty a way to make their classroom come alive and get the students super engaged. I also wanted the students to feel like their professors developed the exercises exclusively for them!”
Cheryl Poth, co-author of the 2018 McGuffey Longevity Award winner, Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches, 4e: “Check in questions at the end of each chapter are intended to serve as self assessments where readers can use these questions to inform both what they know and what they still need to learn.”
Pawan Lingras: co-author of the 2018 Most Promising New Textbook Award winner, Building Cross-Platform Mobile and Web Apps for Engineers and Scientists: An Active Learning Approach, 1e: “We use a small number of projects and explain all the relevant technologies around them. It helps focus on the essential core.”
Marielle Hoefnagels, author of the 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Biology: Concepts and Investigations, 4e: “I have features that help boost study skills, and I have concept maps that integrate ideas within and between chapters. I love those.”
Kathleen Miranda, co-author of the 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Calculus for the AP Course, 2e: “So many – probably my favorites are the multitude of annotations in the worked examples, the NOW WORK Problems immediately following worked examples that provide immediate reinforcement, and the Need to Review and Recall margin notes are my favorites.”
Donald Truxillo, co-author of the 2018 Most Promising New Textbook Award winner, Psychology and Work, 1e: “Perhaps one of our favorite pieces is the video interviews with leaders in our field. This is not only great for the students to know more about our field but is also a great historical record.
We also have a number of online, ‘interactive’ learning elements that makes the material come alive for students.”
Patrick Hester, co-author of the 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Systemic Decision Making: Fundamentals for Addressing Problems and Messes, 2e: “The fusion of systems thinking and decision analysis. Systems thinking is often treated as a thought exercise, but it is a way to think about problems that can lead to positive change.”
Frank Carrano, co-author of the 2018 McGuffey Longevity Award winner, Data Abstraction & Problem Solving with C++: Walls and Mirrors, 7e: “Design Decisions. From the preface: ‘To give readers insight into the design choices that one could make when formulating a solution, ‘Design Decision’ elements lay out such options, along with the rationale behind the choice made for a particular example. These discussions are often in the context of one of the ‘A Problem Solved’ examples.’
When solving a problem, my coauthor and I discuss the choices we have in our approach. Often we brainstorm, and the resulting conversations become the basis of Design Decision.”
Braja Das, co-author of the 2018 McGuffey Longevity Award winner, Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, 9e: “I took into consideration the normal thought processes of any average student—that is, a progressive step-by-step approach to develop the text. Presentation of each topic is followed by example problems to demonstrate the application process to the readers.”
Patricia Goodson, author of the 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Becoming an Academic Writer: 50 Exercises for Paced, Productive, and Powerful Writing, 2e: “There are two: First, the format. I enjoy it when people give me feedback saying, ‘I love your book, because it’s a step-by-step, structured text – I don’t have to just sit and read, I can be practicing or doing what you’ve written’.
Second, the tips for writers who have English as their second language. It’s difficult to find resources specifically for them, which address their needs and concerns. Especially difficult is to find resources for graduate students (there are more resources for undergraduate students). My book was written for graduate students and junior faculty as the primary audiences.”
Alan Rothwell, author of 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Optimization Methods in Structural Design, 1e: “The pre-knowledge required of the reader was defined at an early stage, so that with this the book could be complete in itself. Only to go further is reference to other sources then necessary. More of a ‘how-to-do-it’ approach was aimed at. As well as many examples and exercises (with detailed solutions online), many spreadsheet programs were provided to enable the reader to try out the methods for him/herself, and to modify them for other problems. I consider these to be a major feature of the book.”
Joan Saslow, co-author of 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Summit: English for Today’s World (Levels 1 and 2), 3e: “I am proud that our textbooks are adaptable to the desires and teaching styles of teachers with diverse ideas and who hold different beliefs about methodology.”
Sara Baase, co-author of 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing Technology, 5e: “Many users of the book remark on the quality and variety of the exercises. I am proud of these. I’m also proud of the emphasis on principle and considering a variety of perspectives and analogies from other fields.”
Maria Dove and Andrea Honigsfeld, co-authors of 2018 Textbook Excellence Award winner, Co-Teaching for English Learners, 1e: “This book has 20 QR codes, which are hyperlinked to carefully edited, 6-8 minute-long video clips. The same resources are also available on the book’s companion website in case a reader prefer to use a laptop or computer.”
Q: What involvement have you had in marketing your textbook?
Bovee: “I have extensive involvement. I’ve conducted webinars for instructors, set up by the publisher, on cutting-edge topics; I use social media extensively, and this includes have business communication groups for thousands of instructors on Facebook and LinkedIn; I’ve developed my own mailing list of professors in my field, and I send them video emails rather extensively; I have developed relations with the sales force (“learning consultants”) through social media; and I have Business Communication Headline News; Real-Time Updates (to keep instructors and students up to date); and I have a blog with an extensive number of subscribers. I also use SEO (search engine optimation) in order to dominant the web with my materials as it relates to the keywords in my field. Lastly, I own the URLs for the most important keywords in my field, so that I can have my materials more easily rank #1 for the most important keywords in my field. I have a website, QuickSwitch, to make it easier for instructors to switch from a competing book to one of mine by offering transition guides, a syllabus assistant, and a lesson plan assistant.”
Feher: “None. I left that up to the publisher. I am not a good salesman.”
Neck: “I’m fortunate to direct a program at Babson College called the Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators (SEE). This program trains faculty from around the world how to elevate their teaching in entrepreneurship – both from a content and process perspective. Each participant in the program gets a review copy that is provided by Sage, so this is a nice marketing channel. Additionally I’ve done a webinar for Sage and have visited schools that have adopted the book. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that I have a picture of the book in the signature of my email!!”
Poth: “I take flyers everywhere I go and would like to increase my social media presence.”
Lingras: “We responded to all the requests from the publisher in a timely manner.”
Hoefnagels: “Sometimes I visit faculty on their campuses, and sometimes I am invited to publisher-sponsored events. Sometimes I make videos showing the features of a new edition, and sometimes I deliver webinars about topics that will interest potential customers.”
Miranda: “Much – we keep in close touch with editorial, marketing, and sales. We try to be available to promptly answer from the publisher or prospective users about the text. We attend and work the publisher’s booth at major high school mathematics conferences.”
Carrano: “Prior to publication, we approve or revise the marketing materials suggested by the publisher.”
Das: “I have not been involved any way in marketing the textbook. Thomson/Cengage did all of the marketing.”
Goodson: “I hate to say this, but besides using and recommending the book to students and faculty who attend my classes/workshops, I have not been actively marketing the book. I have no social media platform (not on Facebook, Instagram, or others). I’ve been surprised at how well the book has done, however, despite me. I guess word-of-mouth has been the best strategy so far…”
Rothwell: “Up to now I have had little involvement in marketing my book.”
Saslow: “My coauthor and I travel extensively to partner with sales and marketing staff, delivering teacher training and academic support as well as sales training at publishers’ sales meetings. We also have a full schedule of webinars both for both teacher support and even sales presentations for potential adoptions. We both have written brochures, monographs, flyers, front matter, cover copy, and catalog copy to be sure that our material is positioned to its greatest advantage.”
Baase: “I’m not good at marketing and I’m happy to leave that to the publisher.”
Dove and Honigsfeld: “We both are active on social media and also attend a lot of national, state, and regional conferences related to the topic of English language learners.”
Read the first installment in this series: 2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher
Read the second installment in this series: 2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 2): Boosting writing confidence, scheduling writing time, software
Read the fourth installment in this series: 2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 4): What they wish they had known before they started, writing advice