Leveraging our authoring experience in electronic media

new ideasThe publishing industry is quickly evolving, and with it, the role of an author is changing as well. Where once instructional and academic material was destined mainly for a printed book or journal article, today the landscape looks very different, with electronic media options continually growing. But while these changes can be disorienting for experienced and new authors alike, the new world of electronic media offers many new opportunities for people with specialized knowledge, strong communication skills, and the ability to meet deadlines. Whether you want to supplement existing written work or work in a new medium altogether, the opportunities are exciting – and perhaps the best part is that you don’t need an acquisitions editor to get started! [Read more…]

Join us for the 4/24 TAA Webinar, ‘Texts Plus: Ancillary Materials and Companion Websites’

Janet SalmonsYou have completed the textbook manuscript, now what? Some publishers expect you to develop ancillary materials for companion sites they host. If not, you might want to create your own.

Join us Monday, April 24 from 3-4 p.m. ET, for the TAA webinar, “Texts Plus: Ancillary Materials and Companion Websites”. Textbook writer Janet Salmons will share and critique examples of companion websites from major publishers and individual authors. She will evaluate the types of materials posted, including media, instructional or student resources. [Read more…]

Listen to podcasts on writing, editing, contracts, time management & more

Podcast LibraryTAA members have access to a library of 60-90 minute podcasts on topics such as writing, editing, contracts, royalties, taxes, copyright, time management and more, presented by a variety of industry experts. This resource is free for members. Join TAA today for as little as $15.

Topics include:

Textbook Writing | Textbook Publishing | Contracts & Royalties | Taxes | Copyright | Marketing | Supplements | Indexing | Ebooks & Open Access | Textbook Proposals | Academic Writing | Academic Publishing | Academic Editing | Academic Books | Grant Writing | Time Management | Social Media for Academics | Tenure & Promotion [Read more…]

How to create textbook supplements

Karen Timberlake

Karen Timberlake

Chemistry author Karen Timberlake created a website for the seventh edition of her textbook, Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Inorganic and Biological Chemistry (now in its 10th edition) several years ago, before publishers entered the Internet and began adding online materials such as website supplements to textbook packages.

At Timberlake’s website, students can access learning and teaching activities that complement both her chemistry classes for allied health and her Chemistry textbook, including:

CheModules: PowerPoint Tutorials (PPTS) use mini-lectures and short learning checks to actively engage students in learning.

ChemLinks: Web sources related to each of the topics may enhance a student’s study and learning.

LecturePLUS: Chemodules using (PPTS) develop important chemistry concepts for many topics in the allied health and preparatory chemistry courses.

Books: These give more information on the textbook and supplements.

Quizzes: Self-graded quizzes give practice and immediate feedback on topics covered in chemistry for allied health.
[Read more…]

Should you receive royalties on derivative products?

Q: “Should I receive royalties on products such as Vango Notes and other derivative products?”

“I have a business textbook with Pearson/Prentice-Hall. I picked Pearson for this book because I really like the level of development they invest in new projects, and now that we are in the second edition, the book is doing reasonably well. With the second edition Pearson also launched a VangoNotes version of our book. This is how the Vango site describes them:

‘VangoNotes are exclusively for Pearson Education textbooks. Some VangoNotes subject texts may still be helpful, so browse by subject at www.vangonotes.com. Alternatively, your professor may be able to recommend a Pearson textbook that will be relevant for your class.’

I’ve listened to the material on my book and it could be a substitute for it (though in brief), and the quote above clearly suggests that Pearson/Vango view the resources as interchangeable. I don’t receive royalties on VangoNotes, even though it is essentially a summary version of the book, by chapter. Does anyone have some guidance for me as to what steps I should/could take to remedy this? I have talked with another Pearson author who has the same experience and concern. I also have experience with another publisher, Flat World Knowledge, which pays me a royalty on all derivative products related to my book, even study aids. My sense is that this is coming from the legal side of Pearson, not the editorial side, and I like working with my current editor.” [Read more…]

Should you create resource materials for a textbook to sell commercially?

Q: “Is permission needed from a publisher to develop resource materials for a textbook if those materials will be sold commercially or is it just necessary to have a disclaimer?”

A: Elsa Peterson, a freelance editor with 25 years of experience in the college textbook industry:

“I’ve done a fair amount of permissions editing over the years, which doesn’t equip me to give a comprehensive answer to your question, but I’ll give you my perspective. I think there are a couple of different points to address here.

You plan to sell the resource materials commercially. This means you’ll be in direct competition with the ancillaries that come with the textbook, either free with adoption or for an additional price. The publisher would undoubtedly take a dim view of your competing in this manner, and therefore would be sensitive to any possible copyright infringement you may have committed if you sold your resource materials without obtaining permission. While the textbook’s title and the name(s) of its author(s) are not subject to copyright protection, it’s hard to imagine how you would create resource materials without using any content from the book itself. I think you’d have a hard time arguing fair use if you did use such content — even very brief excerpts of it — for this purpose.]

What kind of disclaimer did you have in mind? Has the publisher/distributor that proposes to sell your resource materials given you a sample disclaimer wording? If so, I would ask an independent attorney to evaluate the wording.”

Can you claim royalties on workbook giveaways?

Q: Years ago, when we wrote our first high school textbooks and workbooks, these items were sold to the schools and we received royalties on each component. Then as publishers began giving away more and more items to secure a big adoption (or a state listing), they began giving away ancillaries. Now they even give away some student books. [Read more…]

How to protect the copyright of CDs

Q: “How can I go about copy-protecting my CDs?”

A: Elizabeth Boepple:

“If anyone is interested in copy-protecting CDs (including preventing downloading to a hard drive or other removable media), I’ve learned it’s easy, and the software is free. The encoded CDs must be purchased from the software distributor, but their cost is insignificant compared to the cost of producing a print book. I also find their customer service and turn-around time from order to delivery to be excellent. (In this day of tech support in foreign countries spoken in barely intelligible folks of questionable competence, these folks not only gave me unlimited pre-sales time to describe the product, but talked me through my first time using the software (no, I’m not being paid for the endorsement).” [Read more…]

Should you create textbook ancillaries yourself?

Q: “Should you create ancillaries yourself?”

A: Michael Sullivan, author of 50-plus mathematics textbooks:

“In the first edition of your book and if you’re in an area where a solutions manual is typical, do it yourself. The pattern of a solutions manual must match the way they are done in the example. If this is not consistent, it will be confusing to the reader. In later editions, you can have someone else do it because you’ve created the model for how to do it.”

Are you plagiarizing, or is it just research?

Q: “I am authoring several elementary school English workbooks for a small press, and I want to make sure that I use vocabulary words that are proper to each grade. I have at my disposal several published workbooks, and I want to know if I can use, for instance, the vocabulary in a published Grade 4 workbook to write my own exercises for my own Grade 4 workbook. Is this just research, or am I plagiarizing the efforts of the companies that have compiled these words as appropriate for this grade?”

A: Jay Black, ethicist:

“I applaud your sensitivity in recognizing the potential for plagiarizing someone else’s work. Your instincts are good. It strikes me that if you can refer to this and several other sources (see any fourth grade-level textbooks) to get the general gist of appropriate language, rather than rely on a single source, you’d be on far safer ground. Even if you do ‘revise’ the work of another and incorporate it into your own text, you’re probably relying much too heavily on the other author’s intellectual efforts. You’ll have more satisfaction from creating your own stuff from scratch, or from a multitude of sources, won’t you?”