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TAA Members Weigh In On the Value of Association Benefits

To help guide planning for the association’s future, TAA recently surveyed members about their primary reasons for joining, what their most valuable member benefits are, and what benefits they think the association should begin offering. Of the 1,953 members surveyed (representing those who have agreed to receive emails), 77 responded.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said that their primary reason for joining TAA was to receive member benefits and services, and 30% said it was ”to network with other textbook and/or academic authors.” Seventeen percent of respondents said they joined for another reason. Responses include:

      • To learn how to write a textbook and network.
      • To improve and become effective in my writing for journal and book submissions.
      • I was offered it through university professional development and have enjoyed getting to know the organization.
      • For information and support as an aspiring textbook author.
      • To learn about and support textbook authoring from the author’s point of view.
      • For member benefits and to network with other authors.
      • For help with my research and writing.
      • To be part of a professional organization in this area and to remain aware of current trends.
      • To receive information on what the industry is doing and how that affects all aspects of my textbook endeavors from contracts, through writing, to marketing, to understanding royalties. Also for facilitated access to the intellectual property attorneys involved in TAA.
      • To learn from other members.
      • To learn more about the authoring process.
      • I’ve published a textbook and want to stay informed.

The majority of respondents (31%) said the member benefit most valuable to them is webinars, with 18% selecting the Annual Conference as their most valuable member benefit. TAA’s print member newsletter, The Academic Author, was rated most valued by 14% of respondents and 17% rated it as second most valuable. Sixteen percent of respondents rated both networking with other textbook and academic authors and the templates and samples resource library as their second most valued member benefit.

Many respondents said the association offers, “robust and complete services as is,” with one respondent saying, “Frankly, I think you’re doing a great job now! TAA offers more services than [any] of the other professional organizations to which I belong.” Below are respondents’ answers to what TAA should begin offering (if it is something we already offer, we have provided commentary and link next to it):

      • Demonstrations of how to write a textbook and publish it. “While not a ‘demonstration,’ the association offers an online textbook development course that offers instruction for new textbook authors.”
      • More opportunities for one-on-one mentoring besides what is offered during the annual conference.
      • Networking to authors, a career fair, and travel grants for attending the conferences. “TAA is now offering an Annual Conference Travel Grant that covers conference registration and lodging.”
      • Directory of services for members. “TAA offers an online Professional Directory, and the majority of those included offer discounts for TAA members.”
      • One-time waived fees for programs like the writing gym for people to get an idea first, then pay in full next time.
      • I’d like almost a TAA Tour Guide/Mentor kind of program for first year members to help them get the most out of their membership. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. Some stuff I still don’t quite understand.
      • Since I publish with a company that does not actively market my book, what tips/tricks would help promote the textbook?
      • Legal review of contracts and a mentoring program with established authors.
      • I’d like more opportunities for structured mentoring/networking beyond the conference. I do feel like I’m part of a stellar community and that you’re doing amazing work; I believe in it. I just feel like I’d like to get to know the people better and be guided. Webinars are great but there aren’t structured moments for networking beyond the conference.
      • A news feature to be included in the TAA newsletter that reported things of interest to TAA authors, such as publishing industry trends, legal actions, statements from publishing leaders on initiatives and predictions.
      • Writing coaching.
      • Information about the publishing process when you sign a contract. “TAA has an ebook called Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts, as well as articles and on demand webinars.”
      • Discount programs. “TAA has an an online Professional Directory, and the majority of those included offer discounts for TAA members.”
      • New member meetings.
      • Please offer the t-shirts for sale again if possible.
      • It would be helpful to offer services tailored to academics at different stages in their career. A lot of the info seems to be aimed at early career scholars. More for mid-career scholars or scholars shifting fields would help.
      • Info on writing book chapters as well as entire books.
      • Maybe a journal.
      • Critique/reading circles? Some of the most helpful feedback is often from peers.
      • More awards.
      • Small sized writing groups, created by TAA, but managed by members. For example, I joined an online community (Exodus 90) with 10k+ members. Within this universe of people, any member (administrator role) can propose and open a small group of up to 8 members. The administrator posts the schedule and topic of the group, and the group remains open for registration until reaching the maximum number of members. This works fantastic for accountability, and with so many groups open there is room for time slots for everybody. It would be interesting to see that applied to writing.
      • The writing support resources (writing gym, etc) ought to be included with the membership dues. I feel like it’s a bait-and-switch to tell people they should join TAA because of all the awesome benefits and resources, then they join and find out they have to pay more to have access to everything.
      • I would like to see some resources for academic authors who would like to take their work to a wider audience outside of academe. How do you create interest in your work, publish with a popular press, take your work to a much wider popular audience?
      • I don’t know how this could be achieved, but I think there should be a way for authors to challenge publishers and get around the daunting expense of attorney fees. Most authors with very valid grievances are helpless to do anything about them because legal counsel is so astronomically unaffordable. A simple 20-30 minute telephone call with an attorney can cost $200 or more. How many authors can afford representation?
      • Not new, but continue offering workshop facilitators that travel to institutions to do presentations. “TAA sponsors workshops at institutions across the country as part of its Institutional Membership Program. Encourage your faculty development office to bring a workshop to your campus.”
      • More on negotiating better contracts, how-tos, and self-publishing.
      • Continue information about writing and publishing. I especially like the tips and strategies for maintaining a continuous writing schedule.
      • Help with the transition to e-books (those beyond PDFs).
      • Expand effective elements about authoring at the annual conference: mentoring, roundtable discussions, review of contract laws, other legal matters, status of publishing industry, etc.
      • A series on academic writing books overall that introduces folks to what has been written on this subject.
      • A webinar on discussing the need for academic writing instruction to administrators (e.g., how to talk to them about it).
      • The travel grants to the conference was a good idea. “TAA members can apply for an Annual Conference Travel Grant, which covers conference registration and lodging.”
      • Many of the participants at TAA conferences are science and math authors. But much of the of the activities of TAA seems geared toward the humanities. Since STEM (or even STEAM) is so important for current students Pre-K-16 and beyond, it would be excellent if TAA could provide more activities that would benefit STEM professionals.
      • Virtual Conference.
      • Camaraderie is not new for us and it is the most important aspect. Happy Hour with a lawyer and/or savvy marketers is the best.
      • Premiere mentoring program (pairing seasoned successes with budding pros). It could be application-based and fee-supported for chosen applicants (applicants for both mentorship and mentees). TAA leadership could convene a committee to create a rubric for acceptance, receive applications, complete sample pairing, and run a pilot with fees supported by TAA for the first year with heavy evaluation and debriefing as the “payment.” Fees can be determined by the committee in accordance with expected richness, and it may not even be necessary, but it would help with revenue generation, exclusivity of association, and desirability for those wanting to ‘give back’ in a personally accountable (and $ manner). In fact, you could make membership of the paid-service plans a requirement for any selected members (or sponsorship of a member the fee the mentor, which could create a space for new scholarships and reward pools).” TAA had a similar program in 2021 that offered academic editing and coaching services for TAA members.”
      • Help with promoting books and more opportunities to participate.
      • Networking circles around different topics of interest. “TAA offers monthly Conversation Circles on various topics.”
      • 1:1 consulting or online office hours.
      • T-shirts, free consults with potential coaches (TAA makes the connection), and mentoring throughout the year.
      • Mini virtual conferences or workshops at other times of year. The in-person conference often conflicts with other conferences.
      • I like the role TAA plays and am proud to be a member. Now I am most interested in marketing my latest book to universities.
      • Some of the workshops designed as asynchronous offerings. “TAA has a library of 250+ on demand presentations.”
      • More advocacy on states’ restrictions of textbook content, K-12 and higher education, and holding annual conference only in states without such restrictions
      • Linkedin group to connect with others. “TAA has a group on LinkedIn. The association is also on X and Facebook.”

A big THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to complete this survey and share your feedback and ideas. We promise to carefully consider all responses as we work on planning for TAA’s future. Please feel to reach out to Kim Pawlak, Executive Director, with any additional comments or questions:

View the results of TAA’s first member feedback survey.

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