Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 30, 2020

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ~Mark TwainMark Twain once said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Writing is a continuous search for the right word, the right fit, and the right connections.

As textbook and academic authors, that search for what’s “right” may be in the relationships with co-authors and editors. It may be what’s right from a social justice perspective. It may be what’s right in our preparation, process, and delivery of content. Or it may be what’s right for publishing our work.

No matter what’s “right” for your writing this week focus on finding what’s truly right instead of settling for what’s “almost right”. The lightning has a much stronger impact than the lightning bug. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: July 10, 2020

“Every writer I know seems to agree on the same thing: You need to write, a lot.”“Every writer I know seems to agree on the same thing: You need to write, a lot.” This unattributed quote could be attributed to nearly every aspiring author who has received advice from a successful one, but as much as we know that we need to write, a lot, it’s certainly easier said than done, most days.

In this collection of articles from around the web this week we have found some specific advice on how to get stuff done, how to write your first few pages, how to overcome the lure of planning, tips for sticking to a writing routine, writers’ tools for better productivity, and how to harness the power of coauthoring. We’ve also found guidance on writing blog posts, organizing digital files, and creating a memorable virtual book launch. Finally, we close with some industry news on bringing diverse perspectives into scholarly marketing and communications and a forthcoming Plan S Journal Checker Tool.

As you prepare yourself for the week ahead, we hope you find inspiration and guidance in the resources below to put you in a mindset where you can write, a lot. Happy Writing! [Read more…]

How two co-authors have worked together successfully at a distance

The UX Book: Agile UX Design for a Quality User Experience, 2nd ed.All writing projects have their own challenges and opportunities. When working with a co-author, there can be additional challenges to ensure that the manuscript is completed in a way that ultimately reflects a single published voice while covering all of the required topic areas.

In this article, Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla, co-authors of the award-winning textbook, The UX Book 2 (Morgan Kauffman Publishing, 2019), share our experience of success working together at a distance. We have offered the following insight on how to manage issues of version control, file sharing, managing “pen” ownership, change tracking, handing off the pen, and organizing difficult text. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 5, 2020

“Your passion is waiting for your courage to catch up.” ~Isabelle Lafleche“Your passion is waiting for your courage to catch up.” Isabelle Lafleche is credited with this quote framing our weekly collection of posts. So what is your passion? Where is your courage? And what do you need to align the two?

Perhaps some of the ideas below will help build the courage or clarify your passion, or both. We have found resources on enhancing visual thinking, organizing research notes, online learning, pursuing, planning, and progressing on a PhD, and additional writing quotes to motivate you on the journey.

We’ve also found information on current issues and events in the academic writing realm including diversity and inclusion, research impact, research career paths, copyright, and Read & Publish deals. Whatever your passion, find ways to build the courage you need to pursue it this week. Happy writing! [Read more…]

2020 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 4): Co-authoring

Textbook Excellence Award WinnerWe recently reached out to winners of the 2020 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about why they made the decision to write their textbook, strategies they used for successful writing, advice on contracts, editing, marketing, co-authoring, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This fourth installment of the five-part series focuses on working with co-authors. [Read more…]

Top 5 tips for creating and maintaining a successful coauthoring relationship

Frank Carrano and Timothy Henry have coauthored two editions each of computer science textbooks Data Abstractions & Problem Solving with Walls And Mirrors C++ and Data Structures and Abstractions with JAVA. Here they detail their top five tips for maintaining a successful coauthoring relationship.

1) Have a Coauthoring Contract or Agreement

When you and your coauthor decided to work together, you may have been long-time friends and coworkers, you may have been connected by your publisher, or you may have met at a conference. However the relationship was established, it is important to have your writing relationship clearly stated in a contract. A coauthoring contractual agreement should specify royalty splits, writing responsibilities, and future edition commitments. If you have not worked together previously, you may want to consider a work-for-hire arrangement to test your ability to collaborate. This can reduce the risk to future editions. Another option is to add the coauthor for the current edition only. That is, amend your contract for one edition at a time. [Read more…]

Reflection and collaboration

reflection and collaborationThis time last year, I wrote two posts for Abstract. In the December post, “Reflect and Reboot,” I discussed ideas from Dewey and others about reflection and deep learning. After taking some time to contemplate how these concepts applied in my own work/life, I wrote Reflections on academic writing: Three insights. Now I’d like to build on this line of thinking and discuss ways reflection plays into our work with others.

As noted in last year’s posts, Dewey suggested that reflective thought is needed “to transform a situation in which there is experienced obscurity, doubt, conflict, disturbance of some sort, into a situation that is clear, coherent, settled, harmonious” (Dewey, 1939, p. 851). He might have had collaborative writing in mind, since doubt and conflict are all too common when writers who are accustomed to doing their own thing find themselves in a situation with equally head-strong co-authors or co-editors. How can we use reflective thinking to shift into a coherent, harmonious working relationship? [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 4, 2019

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Stephen KingThis week’s collection of posts from around the web is full of advice on a variety of topics of interest for academic and textbook authors. Topics include: creative thinking, co-writing, starting a PhD, starting a research network, dissemination of research, research feature creep, dissertation committee service, open access ethics, research data sharing, and academic book reviews.

As varied as this topic list may seem, collectively it represents some of the many questions and challenges faced by academic authors daily. Stephen King once said, “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” The same is true for your answers to these questions and challenges. If it doesn’t naturally fit your academic pursuits, it’s not the right path for this stage of your academic career. This week focus on the words that fit best for where you are in the process. Happy writing! [Read more…]

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…]

Q&A: How do you phase out a co-author?

Textbook PublishingQ: How do you phase out a coauthor who is now retired and with whom you have worked with for many years?

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, co-author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide:

“The best way to phase out a co-author is to bring in a new co-author and increase the proportion of a new content, but so long as the book has original content contributed by the original author, that coauthor has a legitimate (and legal) stake in the book. Publishing industry standards for textbooks call for a gradual reduction in the royalty split, reflecting the reduced contribution, proportionally, to revisions. [Read more…]