Do you have too many books?

John Bond - Too many books?Right off the bat, my answer is a likely no. But I have to confess I am a writer, author, librarian, editor, publisher, book lover and book collector, so maybe I am not the best judge.

Perhaps you think you have too many books at work or at home. Perhaps you have had an “intervention” by your spouse, officemate, or friends. In that case, read on. Perhaps with the holidays upon us, new books as gifts from friends might put you over the top!

Here are some questions to think about as you ponder your books: [Read more…]

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: September 4, 2020

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” ~Samuel JohnsonSamuel Johnson once said, “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” Our collection of articles from around the web are ones worth reading, beginning with a typology of books you may want to read to improve your writing craft.

Next, we have content on FAIR data principles for promoting open research data, ways to deal with writing tasks in college, and methods of addressing life’s challenges that may be affecting your writing practice. Finally, we explore qualitative research in a digital world, dealing with rejection, defeating self-doubt, and the function of academic book publishers.

This week, balance your writing with reading, with growing, and with becoming a stronger writer in your discipline. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: July 31, 2020

“A word after a word after a word is power.” ~Margaret AtwoodThis week’s collection of articles from around the web contains many strategies for writing that can make your writing process more effective and your results more powerful.

We begin our collection with misconceptions about being a writer, tips for reaching your writing goals, and being a trustworthy researcher. We continue with advice on writing what you want to know, writing imperfectly, organizing your writing, improving your essays, and reading to improve your writing. Finally, we explore revision strategies, tone, writing with a busy schedule, blogging, and fostering racial empathy through your reading and writing practices.

According to Margaret Atwood, “A word after a word after a word is power.” This week, focus on putting one word after another to move your projects forward. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Effective reading is the source of better writing

AcWriChatAccording to the University of Richmond Writing Center, “Reading and writing are very closely related. If a writer doesn’t understand the material they are reading, chances are they will not be able to write about it successfully.” This premise was the foundation of our May 15th AcWriChat discussion on Twitter where we discussed effective reading habits of academics.

Event participants, Danielle Apfelbaum, Marc A. Ouellette, and Sonal A. Mehta added personal perspective to the discussion. During the TweetChat event we asked about ways to make reading efforts more effective, strategies to improve notetaking, post-reading processes, and how reading outside your discipline can improve your academic writing. Below is a summary of key insights from the discussion. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: December 6, 2019

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” - Philip RothPhilip Roth once said, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” Compared with the popular saying that references good intentions, from a writer’s perspective works-in-progress are certainly the physical remnants of our good, yet unfinished, intentions. But there are a lot of things competing with our time and making it difficult to finish those intended projects.

This week’s collection of articles seems to address some of those issues. For starters, there may be things you want to read that the full text may or may not be worth the time, or you may be managing a heavy teaching load, juggling multiple writing projects, or trying to select the right journal for your work. All well-intentioned, but perhaps resulting in works-in-progress on the highway to hell. Other good intentions in our industry come with their own potential problems or unintended consequences. Some of these are also addressed below, including: giving feedback on academic writing, accepting people with disabilities, blogging efforts, faculty authoring, open access initiatives, and publishing industry mergers.

Whatever path your writing takes you this week, set your mindset and destination for better. Find ways to finish the projects you start, especially those with your best of intentions, and explore new ways to accomplish your writing goals. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: September 6, 2019

Trust yourselfThis week’s collection of articles from around the web begins with prompts to stimulate your thinking and methods for finding papers for your literature review. It continues with the importance of validating faculty research, consideration of your timeline for finishing a PhD, and expectations when presenting research to an industry audience. Finally, we have some noteworthy industry news on cost per use value models, the value of the big deal, the Cengage-McGraw Hill merger, and a new textbook model at UC Davis.

Neil Gaiman once said, “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” This week, trust yourself and happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: August 9, 2019

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen.” ~ Bradley WhitfordThis week’s collection of posts from around the web is filled with actionable items you can incorporate into your textbook and academic writing process and life. We begin with some planning concepts and how to navigate an academic conference. Next we explore some details related to scholarly e-books and creating a culture of inquiry. Then we discuss options for saving reader time during the research stage of a project and ways to help and support precariat colleagues. Finally we include ideas for “thinking in public” by blogging research and for engaging in open source scholarly publishing.

Bradley Whitford encourages us to “Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen.” This week, take action to move your writing forward. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Stop and speak

read aloudI have been listening to a lot of audiobooks. Add these to the podcasts I subscribe to, and I have converted much of my leisure and professional “reading” to listening. In turn, I have come to appreciate a good narrator or speaker more than ever before.

What I have also become cognizant of is non-optimal writing. I have suggested for years to the authors I work with, to read all their work out loud. And yes, that includes scholarly journal articles and books. It can seem duplicative or even laborious, but it is very beneficial. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 3, 2019

"You fail only if you stop writing." ~Ray BradburyThis week’s collection of articles from around the web is full of opportunities. Opportunities to improve your academic reading practice, to tell your story, to make your writing more interesting, to broadcast your research, or to go freelance. It’s also filled with challenges and uncertainty. Challenges of parenting and academia, predatory journals, the uncertain future of university presses, neurodiversity in scholarly publishing, and the affect of the planned merger between Cengage and McGraw-Hill on the textbook market.

With each opportunity comes challenge and uncertainty. Equally so, with each challenge or uncertainty comes opportunity. As Ray Bradbury once said, “You fail only if you stop writing.” So, here’s to success. Happy writing! [Read more…]