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Cengage to offer new ‘Author Relations team’ starting in February 2019

Cengage announced this week that beginning in February 2019 authors will have the ability to contact a member of a newly created Author Relations team made up of “professionals with proven expertise in handling contracts, royalties and other issues that are top of mind for authors and for Cengage.”

The Author Relations team, said Cengage, will offer clear and regular communication with authors, and act as the main point of contact for questions and concerns related to contracts, royalties and/or other similar topics to ensure that author queries on these topics are addressed quickly and effectively.

The company said it will be sharing contact information for the new Author Relations team via email, mail and phone.

“The Cengage blog post is somewhat cryptic,” said June Parsons, chair of TAA’s Publishing Practices Committee and a Cengage author. “It sounds like the new Author Relations team will now be dealing with contract and royalty matters. Formerly, the product managers (PMs) were a single point of contact for authors. With the new structure, authors will have a different point of contact for contract and royalty questions. One of the things that is not clear from the blog post is how this new structure will affect the relationship between authors and product managers.”

In a recent post to The Cengage Author Blog, the company answered the following questions TAA raised related to the new Author Relations team:

Q: Will authors negotiate contract terms with Cengage’s Author Relations (AR) team rather than the product manager (PM)?

A: “Yes. The Author Relations team is comprised of individuals who specialize in this area of the business and are well-suited to these conversations. The Product Manager will work closely with the AR team in the negotiations to supply necessary information for business terms that work for all parties, including learners.”

Q: Will there be negotiations, or will there be a standard contract?

A: “We have always used standard contracts as the starting point for our legal agreements. The negotiation of terms is often customized to meet the needs of the specific author and market situation.”

Q: Will the AR team and the PM communicate about scope of work (making it a three-way discussion/negotiation)?

A: “The PM will define the scope of work with the author. The PM will inform the AR representative of this scope as well as the business terms and contractual elements that should be considered in the negotiation. The AR rep will have the actual conversation where terms are negotiated and bring any suggested changes back to the PM to determine business viability.”

Q: Will authors then have two points of contact: the PM and the AR team?

A: “Yes. The PM and AR representative will be aligned closely to represent the different aspects of the Cengage-Author relationship. PMs will focus on the design, strategy and learning/teaching goals of the product with authors. The AR team will handle the intricacies of royalties and contracts. This new structure will ensure authors have access to dedicated specialists on both the learning and business sides, and ensure a more productive working experience for all parties.”

Q: Does this diminish the role of the PM?

A: “Not in the least. The PM and the author will continue to discuss the right strategy and approach to our learning solutions, while having an expert on-hand to handle royalties and contracts will allow authors and PMs to have more time to focus on the ‘creative’ aspect of building learning solutions.”

Q: Will the AR team be the go-to group for information about royalty reports? Will the AR team be able to give authors a heads up on sales before the royalty reports come out? Will the AR team be the communications link between authors and Cengage accounting?

A: “The AR team will take lead on working with authors regarding royalties across the board. Each author will have an AR rep that they can call directly with questions of that nature.”

Q: What does the sentence mean “Authors may continue to partner with their respective discipline product managers on ways to add value to their products?” Does “may” mean we have permission, or that it might/might not be necessary to partner with PMs in the future?

A: “Re-reading this statement, we can understand the confusion with the use of ‘may.’ Upon reconsideration, a better word choice would have been ‘will.’  Authors will, without a doubt, continue their close partnership with their PM on the development of their products. This does not change with the introduction of the AR team.”

What do you think of Cengage’s new Author Relations team? Please share your comments, and in February, your experiences interacting with this new team at Cengage.