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…]