The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: August 10, 2018

"Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." ~Barbara KingsolverAs evidenced by our collection of articles this week, there is no single way to do things in this field of academic writing.

For all of us, even the word summer is associated with different definitions and results – as comically represented in the first post this week. Some of us are finding new methods to enhance their research, shifting gears, overcoming challenges, or just trying to define how writing best fits in their schedule. For others, they’re examining the industry opportunities, differences, threats, and changes to see how they fit best in the environment.

This week’s collection of articles includes all of these topics important to the field of academic writing, but wherever your personal writing journey takes you this week, be true to yourself. Barbara Kingsolver advises us, “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” [Read more…]

Schedule time to market your work or pay the consequences

MarketingCommitting to writing involves more than just working away at a new Word file. It also requires the commitment to promote and market the eventual work as well. This does not come naturally to everyone, but this dedication to help spread the word about the work is equally important as the content itself.

Whether it is a journal article, a monograph, a textbook, or some other form of academic communication, marketing is essential to the success of the material. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: December 29, 2017

"Writing is a gift to both the writer and the reader." ~Cheryl AllewayIn this final week of 2017, few creatures were stirring with new articles and content between the holidays, but we were able to locate a few gems for consideration as you reflect on this year and prepare for the next. For starters, looking back, 2017 was a breakthrough year for OER and a time of textbook pricing discussion impacted by continued changes in available purchasing options. In contrast, looking forward, we found articles on book marketing traps to avoid, how to maintain a healthy competitive nature, and self-care practices you may want to consider adopting in 2018.

In this season of giving and in preparation for the gift of a new year on the way, keep in mind the words of Cheryl Alleway, “Writing is a gift to both the writer and the reader”, and keep writing. [Read more…]

How to leverage a TAA textbook award

Challenging Behavior in Elementary and Middle SchoolReceiving a textbook award from TAA is not only a great honor, it can also be used to increase book sales and advance your writing career.

Judy Rasminsky, coauthor of Challenging Behavior in Young Children and Challenging Behavior in Elementary and Middle School, both of which have received TAA Textbook Excellence (Texty) Awards, said she and her coauthor Barbara Kaiser have leveraged the award in several ways, including:

  • Posting the Texty logo in several places on their challenging behavior websites.
  • Sending a press release announcing the award to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The NAEYC included information about the award in its catalog, newsletter, and journal, and also purchased Texty seals to put on the books they sell.
  • Asking their editors to notify sales reps about the award.

Chuck Corbin, whose physical fitness textbooks have won both TAA Textbook Excellence Awards and a McGuffey Longevity Award, added the awards to his curriculum vitae. He also included the award in his website bio and plans to mention it in the prefaces of future editions of each book. Corbin also notified his university and local newspapers in order to publicize the award to students, faculty, and the community.

Both Rasminsky and Corbin also recommend including information about the award on conference presentation slides and handouts.

Eric Schulz, coauthor of Calculus, which won a 2011 TAA Textbook Excellence Award, encouraged his publisher to promote the award as much as possible. Pearson posted an announcement about the award on Facebook and included information about it in their literature. Schulz also let Wolfram, the technology company that makes the unique software used to create the e-book version of Calculus, know about the award. Wolfram published a press release on their blog. Like Corbin, Schulz also worked with his university to spread the word to his local academic community.

5 Tips for Kickstarter success for writers

Earth Joy WritingI recently completed my third successful Kickstarter campaign to help promote my new book, Earth Joy Writing: Creating Harmony through Journaling and Nature, which will be released on Earth Day, April 22nd.

In all three cases, my books were published by small, independent presses that didn’t have funds for promotional campaigns, publicity, or book tours. So I used the Kickstarter funds to promote my books in these ways.

Often people shy away from Kickstarter and prefer to use other crowdfunding programs because of the requirement that the funding goal be met in order to get any funds at all. In my experience (and we know this as writers), having the goal of completion can spur us to take bolder action. A half-written book isn’t really a book, is it? [Read more…]

Use YouTube videos to promote your textbook

Textbook videosLydia Cline, a drafting professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and the author of five text and trade books, said she has found that posting short videos on her books’ topics to YouTube can be an effective way to promote them.

She originally created her channel, ProfDrafting, to post classroom topics for her students. “They enjoy the videos as a supplement to their text,” said Cline. On the advice of her TAB/McGraw-Hll editor, she added book content videos. In less than a year she collected 137 subscribers and over 31,000 views, even though she does no promotion beyond telling her students about it. “The channel has returned benefits in ways I didn’t anticipate. With YouTube’s amazing analytics, I can see how long viewers watch the videos, which videos are popular, and which are ignored. My observation is that once a channel starts attracting views–mine were initially from my students–YouTube starts promoting it via the Suggested Videos sidebar and the videos also appear in a Google search. I can see who the subscribers are, and most are NOT my students. They’re from all over the world. I knew YouTube had a global audience, but wow, my subscriber list really hammers that home to me.” [Read more…]

How to maximize the traffic on your blog

Joel Friedlander

Joel Friedlander

A Self Publisher's ToolkitPublishers are increasingly expecting authors to blog in connection with their books. These blogs can be a highly effective marketing tool—if you can successfully attract readers. In order for your blog to thrive, you need large numbers of engaged readers who follow, comment on, and repost your content, which means you need to know how to maximize your traffic.

In a recent TAA audio conference entitled “Author Blogging: How to Attract Readers”, Joel Friedlander, author of the highly successful blog, The Book Designer.com, and an expert in maximizing blog traffic, shared the following advice: [Read more…]

How to advocate for your textbook before, during, and after a national sales meeting

Reid Hester, a 15-year veteran in textbook sales and marketing, and Robert Christopherson, a best-selling geography textbook author, share their advice for making the most of your participation in national sales meetings:

Provide specific, actionable information. “If it can be used to sell your book, it’s worth its weight in gold,” said Hester. For example, build sales-ready bullet points about your book’s features. Or track the updates and changes you make to a new edition as you make them. “Your editor and the sales reps will want to know,” said Christopherson.

Review the competition. “When a competing book comes out, I send a full review to show the talking points of my book versus their book,” said Christopherson. “I provide a bolded summary of the point for each section so the editor can send those lines to the sales reps.” Spreadsheets are another good way to highlight at a glance what differentiates your book from the competition.

Be aware of how your book relates to current events and share that information—judiciously—with your publisher. “I’ll email the editor and marketing manager saying ‘these pages cover this type of event’ and ask them to forward it to the sales reps,” said Christopherson.

Consider establishing a book-related blog. According to Hester, “marketing managers can’t be emailing reps constantly or they’ll stop listening,” so post about current events vis-à-vis your book on your blog (and let the press know it’s there.) Added bonus: your blog is accessible to adopters, too.

Be available. Make time if your publisher wants you to wine and dine with you or wants you to make a presentation for big potential adopters, said Hester. Christopherson recommends establishing a dedicated email address and phone number for your book, and sharing them widely. “I include my email address in every book,” he said, noting that having access to the author helps people feel connected to and invested in the book. Just be sure to respond promptly when people reach out. (Using Google Voice is one way to establish a dedicated phone number without giving out your personal number—or adding more phones to your account.)

10 Tips for successful marketing

“When authors invest the dedicated time and effort to produce a textbook, it’s important that they do it with a goal that it will be adopted and read and that it will provoke learning,” said Robert Christopherson, author of the bestselling introductory geography textbook, Elemental Geosystems. “This requires thought throughout the creation process toward our involvement in marketing and how the post-production/sales period will progress,” he said. “Marketing and sales are areas of publisher responsibility for sure, and I respect these editorial channels of authority, however I have learned that the marketing process works best with proactive, aggressive, and consistent effort.”

Christopherson shares the following ten marketing tips and strategies:

1) Treat authoring as a business — create text-specific letterhead and business cards. “The cards are quite effective in adopter contacts, with students, and to have available at your publisher’s booth at annual meetings,” he said. “Develop a representative icon for your text that carries over to your card and letterhead.”

2) Set up a post office box for those readers that use snail mail. Since 1995, said Christopherson, all his texts have included his e-mail address, along with a P.O. Box with his name salutation, at the end of the Preface. At the beginning of the term and around finals, he receives anywhere from a few e-mails to six to 10 per week. “The feedback I receive is so valuable that the work input is easily justified,” he said. “I respond to each one, in earnest, and usually get a surprised and pleased response, e.g., ‘I never expected an author to actually write me back.’ In my working copy of the finished text and for my preparation file for the next edition, I mark up the text with comments. These e-mails provide valuable error and clarification points. After two years, when I sit down to begin a revision on a three-year cycle, I have this ready-made resource already in hand from hundreds of ‘conversations.’ As a marketing asset, I think that all these contacts and replies develop strength in the connective tissue that supports your textbooks in the market.”

3) Be available at your publisher’s booth at professional meetings. “Make sure your editor and marketing director have all the information for upcoming meetings,” he said. “Offer involvement in preparing ad copy for the conference programs. Help with the booth. Usually some local sales rep is stuck with packing up the booth on the last day, the word is out among the sales reps that I help out – which gives me a feeling of full-cycle involvement.”

4) Offer to proofread sales manual copy, both print and e-catalogues. “Only authors know the buzz words, correct vernacular, vocabulary, and sales features of their own textbook,” he said. “Build on the copy the publisher provides.”

5) Do the first several editions of your ancillaries. “This will give the ancillaries your style and approach,” he said. “These editions then become the guides for later editions that will be done by work-for-hire third parties. I know the authors of my ancillaries and am available to them for questions and collaboration.”

6) Become active in the instructional CD-ROM process. “My publisher invested in an instructional CD-ROM to accompany each of my texts,” he said. “By doing all the design and preparing the functional layout, as well as the storyboards for the animations, I was able to get the inclusion of many features not on other CDs. Remember, this is usually personal work ‘on spec’ with compensation derived from increased text sales stimulated by the CD asset.”

7) Become involved in the creation of an interactive website for your text.

8) Make sure that sales reps, marketing personnel, editors and adopters, know that you are available for feedback, questions, and criticism. “Be available to speak, when asked, at national sales meetings that most publishers hold twice a year,” he said. “We need to teach editors, sales reps, and managers about our books and disciplines.”

9) Know your market and your competition, and write the best student-friendly text possible – there’s nothing like a great book that sells itself. “Yes, I used the word ‘sells,’ for this is appropriate to say in our important academic work!” he said.

10) Go to TAA meetings and participate in the TAA newsletter and website. “No one knows better the isolation that the creative process requires more than other authors,” he said. “The network and supportive web among authors is powerful.”