The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: June 26, 2015

Can you believe that we are already at the end of June? "Don't wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect."Have you found yourself sticking to your writing goals or does hearing that it’s the end of June make you want to run screaming in panic? You might not be screaming in panic, but you might be quickly assessing all that you have and have yet to accomplish this summer to meet the goals you set for yourself this past spring. Luckily, many of the articles below are focused on summer writing. Some reassuring there is still plenty of time to be productive and others on productivity and realistic writing schedules.

Happy writing! [Read more…]

How to write a book proposal for an academic press

academic book proposalSo, you want to turn your dissertation into a book? Or, perhaps you want to write your first academic book on an entirely different subject. Unless you are famous and have publishers soliciting manuscripts from you, you likely will have to submit a formal academic book proposal to an academic press to have a hope of publishing a book with such a press.

Many university press websites have guidelines that can help you through this process. UC Press has a good set of guidelines as does Harvard. Be sure to check the websites of the press where you plan to submit to find out if they have specific guidelines.

Here I provide generic suggestions for what should go in an academic book proposal, and then suggest a method for writing such a proposal. [Read more…]

How to reach out to potential textbook publishers

high stack of booksQ: “I am interested in researching the types of textbooks that currently exist regarding preparing a student for a job and which courses utilize this book. Is there a way to determine, other than contacting universities directly, if books are currently being used regarding this topic and if they effectively address the current job market issues? Also, is it recommended, if you have a textbook topic idea, to send the proposal to multiple potential publishers? Is it necessary to completely write the book before marketing it to potential publishers?”

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook:

“You don’t mention the type of job you are referring to. Textbooks that prepare people for jobs may be [Read more…]

How to pitch a piece of writing

Pitching a piece of writing requires thinking strategically about possibilities for seeing your work published, given your personal and professional goals as a scholar. We’ve created a series of tips for approaching editors and publishers that include preparing your materials, making the pitch, and following it up.

1. Preparing your materials.
Seek ideas from colleagues about matching your written materials with a particular journal/publisher. Sometimes colleagues can help us can discern patterns of thought to guide us in approaching a particular editor/publisher.

Pay close attention to the title, the opening, and the closing. These places are crucial in any piece of writing as they receive readers’ prime attention; make sure they are clear, accurate, and distinctive.

Follow the submission guidelines slavishly. Editors devote considerable energy to developing criteria that best match their needs, so follow the specific guidelines they provide. [Read more…]

Q&A: What is the likelihood of a textbook publisher ‘cloning’ your textbook?

Textbook Author Roundtable Q&A webinarQ: “I am working on a different kind of developmental mathematics textbook. It is very difficult, nowadays, to distinguish between current Mathematics textbooks. Mine looks, feels, and reads in a very different unique way. I’ve presented it to one publisher and they are interested. I know that it is to my advantage to approach other publishers, however, should I be concerned that if I do, that they will ‘clone’ my text?”

A: Michael D. Spiegler, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Providence College:

“If you have a good way of approaching the subject matter, others will imitate once your book comes out. You may have an edge as the original. And you’ve made a contribution to the students in your field beyond just your book. It may be possible to get a publisher to sign an agreement stating that they will not come out with a book that clones yours for a given time period. I’ve heard of this being done with other ideas and industry. I’d suggest you consult with a good intellectual property lawyer on this idea. And remember, imitation is the highest form of strategy (or something like that).” [Read more…]

Q&A: How to write a stellar book proposal and get published

textbooksQ: “A publisher has expressed interest in my ideas for a book, and has asked for a proposal. What goes into a good proposal?”

A: Michael Lennie, Authoring Attorney and Literary Agent, Lennie Literary and Authors’ Attorneys:

“A proposal should be as good as or better than the book itself because publishers sign non-fiction books based on the proposal and one or two sample chapters, not based on the completed book itself. Do not short change yourself by slapping together a generalized proposal. Read the book(s) and relevant articles, and do your best work!” [Read more…]