Reflecting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our publications

library bookshelfI’ll never forget that encounter I had with Kathy a number of years ago. Kathy and I are friends now, but I’d never met her before that moment when she introduced herself at our annual anatomy and physiology (A&P) teaching conference. She asked if I had a moment to chat about how illustrations are chosen for textbooks. As you can imagine, I love talking about the process of creating textbooks, so we stepped aside for a quick chat.

It turns out that she was chatting up as many A&P textbook authors as she could, including a few other TAA members, with a question that stemmed from her interest in diversity issues. Kathy wanted to know about the illustration process because she wanted to know why women and other groups were underrepresented. [Read more…]

Preparing for ripples, waves, and tsunamis in textbook and academic publishing

wavesRecently, we’ve seen shifts from print to digital, the rise of open educational resources and open-access journals, the consolidation of large publishers into mega-publishers, fundamental changes in how authors are compensated, and other significant changes to the nature of authoring. As we wait to see which of the ripples coming over the horizon dissipate and which become large—perhaps overwhelming—waves, what can we authors do to remain afloat?

Three main strategies can help academic and textbook authors continue to succeed as changes in textbooks, journals, or scholarly publications come along: vigilance, honing core skills, and agility. [Read more…]

Podcasting for academic authors: A ‘brand’ new experience

Academic authors do what we can to take charge of defining the perception of ourselves and our own work among our professional circle and potential future associates. We know that just leaving it to others to define us may send the wrong message—or worse, it may go nowhere at all. This process of professional branding can involve a lot of different strategies, but the one I’ll focus on now is podcasting.

Podcasting is simply distributing digital audio files widely over the internet. It’s been around for decades, but only recently has caught a wind and is steadily becoming a mainstream source of news and entertainment. Podcasts are most often consumed on mobile devices, which allow listeners to enjoy their favorite episodes while they commute, walk the dog, or mow the lawn. [Read more…]

Learning science and textbook design: The value of pre-testing to jumpstart student learning

In the hands of an experienced teacher and motivated students, a textbook can be a powerful tool for learning. As with any tool in one’s toolbox, a design that enhances utility, and thereby improves performance, can make a textbook an effective, frequently used implement. As a textbook author, I realize that although effective communication of content is at the center, my textbooks will be used successfully only if the instructional design promotes learning. [Read more…]

Book Review: Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts

Kevin Patton 2016-04-19_16-38-43One of the first experiences a textbook author will have is dealing with a publishing contract. Very few of us are attorneys ourselves and very few of us will have had any prior experience negotiating a publishing contract. Our expertise is in our teaching discipline—not in contract law.

I have learned—the hard way—that I should NOT be the only one looking at contracts and amendments presented to me by my publisher. I’ve therefore made it a habit to have an attorney specializing in textbook publishing contracts to review, suggest, and debate the points in anything I sign. Now I have a much better idea of the potential risks and rewards involved in each new professional writing project. [Read more…]

5 Ways to tame your publishing lions

Kevin Patton Lions

Kevin Patton playing with two of his lions in 1980.

Forget kindergarten. All I really need to know about being a textbook author, I learned as a lion tamer.

I’m a textbook author and professor now, but in my youth I was an apprentice lion tamer. And it continues to surprise and delight me that many of the principles I learned during those adventures have helped me in my career.

Some years ago, I got a call from author Steve Katz who helped me realize the value of the lessons I’d learned while lion taming. In Washington, D.C., Steve had been a chief-of-staff for a powerful political figure. He was now considering a switch to consulting and had an idea for a book that would help him launch his new career.  [Read more…]