How to find a coauthor: What you need, what you want, and where to look

coauthoringDuring a recent TAA webinar, “The Joys and Agony of Co-Authoring: Practical and Legal Tips from Two Author-Lawyers”, presented by the award-winning co-authoring team of Karen Morris and Sten Sliger, the pair shared a list of both necessary and desirable traits to look for in a coauthor as well as tips on where to start searching for the people who possess them.

While working with a coauthor has several advantages, like a reduced workload, added expertise and creativity, and a different perspective, the wrong relationship can be a recipe for disaster. To increase your chance of success, this list provides some food for thought when considering a co-authoring relationship with someone. [Read more…]

How to establish author order when collaborating with multiple authors

collaborateWhen multiple authors collaborate to write a journal article, the task of determining authorship order inevitably arises. In some situations, the order may be obvious, but in many cases, it can be difficult to decide, and having a plan in place to establish author order can help the process go more smoothly.

Collaborating authors are usually listed in order of the relative size of each author’s contribution to the article, but sometimes it can be a challenge to gauge the size or importance of each author’s contributions. One way of facing this challenge is to take a mathematical approach to determining each author’s contribution, and thus author order. For example, Christine Beveridge and Suzanne Morris, the authors of the July 25, 2007 Nature article entitled “Order of merit,” recommend using a multi-criterion decision making approach, which involves the following steps: [Read more…]

How to find a co-author to help with the workload on a successful one-author textbook series

Data a Computer CommunicationsWilliamStallingsComputer science textbook author William Stallings, a 13-time winner of TAA’s Textbook Excellence Award, and five-time winner of TAA’s McGuffey Longevity Award, gives the following advice for someone trying to find a co-author to help with the workload on a successful one-author series:

“I have had four different coauthors on three different books and all the experiences have been largely positive. In every case, the coauthor was a professor who had taught a course using the then-current edition of the book. I think that is an essential prerequisite. This gives the professor insight into how students are reacting to the material and what needs to be changed to make it more attractive to students. As well, teaching from the book gives the professor insight into what needs to be changed to make his/her job easier and more effective. [Read more…]

A veteran textbook author’s insights on contracts, coauthoring & more

Veteran textbook author Frederic (“Ric”) Martini, lead author of ten undergraduate texts on anatomy and physiology or anatomy, shares his insights on publishing contracts, author collaboration, and more. [Read more…]

Passing the torch: Selecting a successor to write future textbook editions

Writing TextbooksFinding a successor for your textbook(s) can be a daunting, arduous task. At TAA’s June 2013 conference veteran authors Robert Christopherson, Michael Sullivan, and Karen Morris presented a session sharing strategies for finding a successor and successfully transitioning the future editions of your texts.

The following is an overview of that presentation, highlighting ten tips to facilitate successor author transitions — “passing the torch.”

1) If you already have a successful coauthor arrangement, making the transition from the coauthor to your successor is a logical choice. Make sure all contract stipulations regarding succession are thoroughly discussed and agreed to before entering into the succession process.

2) Use your ancillary and lab manual, or test bank authors, as a proving ground for potential coauthors. The benefit of this strategy is that you already have vetted these authors both in terms of their writing and collaboration styles. [Read more…]

Lawyer: Rosy textbook co-author prospects can sour

Textbook PublishingAlthough co-authorship has many advantages, there are also meaningful risks that no one likes to contemplate at the outset of the relationship, said Stephen Gillen, an attorney with Wood, Herron & Evans, L.L.P. “There are many stresses and many opportunities for the relationship to sour and much temptation at finger pointing,” he said. “While most collaborations/co-authorships end the way they start — on a distinctly positive note, when things go bad, they go very, very bad.” Gillen said co-author disputes are among the most rancorous disputes he deals with: “The strategy most often in evidence is one borrowed from the Cold War — assured mutual destruction.” [Read more…]

12 Secrets of a prolific textbook author

textbook stackIf you want to become a more successful and productive author, said Marilyn “Winkie” Fordney, the author of insurance billing and medical assisting books, choose a topic that is a first in its field or with little or no competition. Using this strategy and others, Fordney has published more than 50 books, many of which are the leading textbooks in her field. “I submitted my first manuscript to four different publishers and all wanted it,” she said. “Because of this it gave me a little edge in the contract negotiation. First I hired a contract attorney from Capital Records who taught me from the beginning the do’s and don’t’s of negotiating.”

Fordney shares these additional strategies for becoming a more prolific author: [Read more…]

Q&A: How to divide royalties when one author retires

royaltiesQ: “How do you determine the division of royalties, the typical percentages for members of the author team, and the percentage for the author who is retiring from the author team?”

A: Don Collins, Former Managing Editor:

“Royalties are usually based upon the amount of work contributed and seniority of the authors. In some cases there is a sliding scale based upon the success of the product. A retiring author usually gets residuals based upon the past success of the product. Royalty rates vary from company to company and different rates are accorded to school texts and college texts.”

A: Stephen Gillen, Attorney, Wood Heron & Evans:

“Royalties between co-authors of equal stature are typically allocated in proportion to the division of labor. If each is responsible for half the book, then the split is 50/50, and so on. If one is pre-eminent in the field and has many publication credits and the other is a neophyte, either the split or the workload may be adjusted to compensate.

When a new author comes on to revise an existing work, the new author might be asked to work on the first such edition for a fixed fee with no guarantee of participation on subsequent editions – this is a sort of trial run. If this works out, the new author may be invited to participate in royalties. Typically, the split on the first such edition would be say 1/4 of the royalties for revising 1/2 of the work (in recognition of the senior author’s past contributions).”