The classroom is a crucible for textbook development, said geography author Robert Christopherson, and that’s why publishers are looking for people who love to teach to write textbooks. “The development of the sequences of topics and the text outline is done through experimentation, he said, which is best done in the classroom using the author’s own students. Student questions in the classroom, for example, may be an indication of where a figure label is needed in the textbook.”
Authors share advice for writing your first textbook
Writing that first textbook can be a really time-consuming and exhausting experience, but knowing the ropes beforehand can make it less daunting.
Easy money. A screenplay. Fame and glory. If you’re thinking about writing a textbook, put these out of your mind. But if you’ve got a lot of knowledge to share in return for the satisfaction of just doing it, there’s some advice out there for writing your first textbook.
How to get the most out of peer reviews
Rather than seeing the peer review process as negative, veteran academic authors William Stallings and Francine McKenzie encourage authors to see it as a valuable opportunity to improve their work.
McKenzie, an associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, said authors should see peer reviews as part of a process of improving a piece and one’s writing skills in general. “Think of peer review as more an intellectual exchange than a judgment,” she said. “With this mindset, authors can approach peer review with enthusiasm instead of apprehension.”
How to make difficult concepts easier to understand
One of the most valuable attributes of a successful textbook author is their ability to present complex concepts in an effective and efficient format.
Mariëlle Hoefnagels, author of Biology: Concepts and Investigations, recommends textbook authors make listening to students a top priority when trying to explain a difficult concept. “Either listen in as students discuss difficult concepts with one another, or ask a student to explain the subject to you,” she said. “Pay close attention to the parts that confuse the students, then make sure the narrative and illustrations in your book confront those potential points of confusion.”
Q&A: What techniques do you use to cut clutter, wordiness, jargon, etc. from your writing?
Q: “What techniques do you use to cut clutter, wordiness, jargon, etc. from your writing?”
A: Andrew P. Johnson, Ph.D., Professor of Holistic Education, Department of Special Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Mankato, MN:
“What you don’t include in is just as important as what you do include. Splash your words on the page. Write your draft without regard to length or redundancy. Get the whole mess out there. First focus on and revise sentence-by-sentence. With each, only include the information that needs to be there to communicate the idea. NO EXTRA WORDS.
Q&A: Strategies for bringing your writing projects to completion, overcoming writer’s block, and managing your time
Q: “How do you bring your writing projects to completion? Do you write daily, in large blocks? What strategies do you use to overcome ‘writer’s block’? What have you done to improve your writing skills? How do you manage your time so that you find time for writing?”
A: Joan Carnosso RN, PhD(c), CCRN, Associate Professor, Nursing Department, Boise State University:
“I am new to authoring and writing for that matter. I am working on finishing my dissertation and it has been a struggle for me since I really never believed that I liked to write and I sure didn’t believe I was good at it. So I knew that I needed to do something to boost my confidence. I applied and got accepted to two workshops. One is Writing Across the Curriculum, and the other is the National Writing Project. Both of which take place in the summer.