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…]

Preparing for ripples, waves, and tsunamis in textbook and academic publishing

wavesRecently, we’ve seen shifts from print to digital, the rise of open educational resources and open-access journals, the consolidation of large publishers into mega-publishers, fundamental changes in how authors are compensated, and other significant changes to the nature of authoring. As we wait to see which of the ripples coming over the horizon dissipate and which become large—perhaps overwhelming—waves, what can we authors do to remain afloat?

Three main strategies can help academic and textbook authors continue to succeed as changes in textbooks, journals, or scholarly publications come along: vigilance, honing core skills, and agility. [Read more…]

Textbook art placement tips

In Laura Frost’s article “Placement Matters! Textbook Art Placement” in the Fall 2019 edition of The Academic Author, she makes excellent points about the importance of art positioning in a textbook and the challenges to accomplish this. By placing art directly where students will “see” it when they need it, i.e. near the in-text callout, we support their learning. If the art is not immediately visible to them, they are less likely to reference it. Appropriate placement also supports instructors who wish to refer to the art during a classroom discussion. I thought I would take a moment to share my experience and solutions. [Read more…]

Pedagogy Corner: Placement matters! Textbook art placement

Multimedia Principles - Peach diagramWhen your textbook moves from the manuscript phase to the production phase, your publisher’s composition team might have different ideas about where your figures and photos should be placed than what you had envisioned. What can you do (besides get angry) when your callout appears at the bottom of page 37 and the figure doesn’t appear until the bottom of page 38 after a page turn? Justify your requests with research! According to the Multimedia Principle, people learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone. For authors interested in the wealth of research that supports this, I highly recommend Richard Mayer’s book, Multimedia Learning, published by Cambridge University Press (2009). [Read more…]

TAA’s 2020 Conference Early Registration Is Open!

Join us in San Diego, CA for TAA’s 33rd Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference. Early registration is now open!

TAA’s conference will be held June 12-13 at the beautiful Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, located in the heart of downtown San Diego! With a Four Diamond rating by AAA, the Westin San Diego Gaslamp is located just steps from the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter, boasting of more than 150 restaurants, bars, shops, cafes and galleries. It is also only a 15 minute walk or short Uber ride to the popular Waterfront and Little Italy neighborhoods! [Read more…]

Write to reach your true audience

In writing, your voice is the way you “speak” to your audience, and it includes your word choices, your “tone” of voice, and what you intentionally or unintentionally reveal about yourself. Style is the way you use words to express yourself in writing. A second meaning of style is the system of conventions you adopt to format your writing for your subject area, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Council of Biology Editors (CBE), or The Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago style). Voice and style are important matters in textbook publishing. By themselves, your voice and writing style can make or break your book. Making decisions about voice and style involves reflecting on your mission, understanding your audience, choosing how you will represent yourself and your subject, and monitoring your tone. [Read more…]

Q&A: Writing professors’ rights: Can the university claim the rights to your publication?

Q: Writing professors’ rights: Can the university claim the rights to your publication/royalties based on your employment at the time of writing the manuscript?”

A: Brenda Ulrich, Partner, Archstone Law Group PC:

“It’s an interesting issue. Under standard employment law the employer owns anything created by the employee in the scope of their employment. And certainly writing and publishing scholarly work is considered to be in the scope of a professor’s job duties. However, within academia there is what is often called the “academic tradition,” namely, that professors and academics own their own scholarship. Most universities will defer to the academic tradition and don’t try to claim ownership of the books and articles their faculty members write – and many state this policy outright in their faculty handbook or other policies. As a practical matter, it also just makes sense: if a faculty member departs for another university, everyone assumes their scholarship and publications will go with them since they will be continuing to build on that work at the new institution.

The place where I’ve seen the issue get murky or divisive is around things like course or teaching materials – both online and in class – which arguably have aspects of both scholarship and straight teaching obligations built into them. Course materials also might receive a lot more support and investment from the university itself – especially for online courses –  such that the university feels it has more of a vested interested and right to use or license them later. In these circumstances I strongly recommend putting some sort of written agreement in place between the university and the instructor so everyone understands ownership and use rights going in.”

Crafting meaningful stories to bring research methods to life

What's your story?Stories engage readers. We can use stories to show how the ideas or strategies we are discussing might play out in a particular social, cultural, or organizational context. I often write about research methods, and find that stories can help readers see how the pieces of a research design fit together. Stories can be presented in a fully-developed research case, or as an engaging example inserted within an article or book chapter.

For my first research book, Online Interviews in Real Time, I thought it was important to include stories. Online methods were new and few robust descriptions were available that showed how they actually worked. I found six researchers who were doing interesting online research, and interviewed them. I crafted a section for each chapter called “Researchers’ Notebook: Stories of Online Inquiry.” Readers could see how each of these researchers handled ethical dilemmas or sampling. The companion website linked to additional materials from the researchers’ work.

Several books later, I am getting ready to write a new edition for Doing Qualitative Research Online and again want to include stories in a “Researchers’ Notebook.” I know that more researchers are incorporating stories, so I wondered whether their lessons learned might help me prepare to move forward. In this post I will share a few tips and examples I discovered in three open access articles. In a future post I will look at digital and visual storytelling and how I can use these approaches in ancillary materials. [Read more…]

10 Classic and contemporary textbook features you may not be thinking about…but should

highlighted textbookDuring his 2019 TAA Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “Textbook Features You May Not Be Thinking About… But Should!”, veteran textbook author Kevin Patton shared details about both classic – not “old” – and contemporary textbook features for consideration when designing a learning experience for your readers.

Starting with an exploration of the textbook as part of a learning experience for the student, Patton advised looking at the pain points, how they can be addressed, and what already works in the classroom. From there, it’s a matter of finding the right design elements to deliver the content in a meaningful way for the students using your book. Below are ten features for consideration. [Read more…]

Analog contracts in a digital world

Shaking hands over a signed contractCollege level textbooks and their publishers have been in the news a lot lately, with all of the major higher education publishers emphasizing a shift to a digital first market strategy. The vast majority of publishing agreements for established textbooks were written in a world where print books were the dominating market offering. As the world shifts, there are certain contractual provisions to be mindful of when evaluating one’s royalty statements and in negotiations over amendments.

In reality, print sales still dominate, but publishers are trying to move away from the model, and the future of higher education materials is uncertain. [Read more…]