Considering Writing a Textbook? Questions to Ask

By Sierra Pawlak

In her November 9, 2022, TAA webinar, “Textbook Authoring Inspirations, Insights, and Innovations”, award-winning textbook author Jamie Pope shared several questions you should ask yourself before writing a textbook. Those questions include:

  • What’s the book’s primary focus and level?
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • What are your qualifications to author the book?
  • How does it differ from other books on the market?
  • Why would someone adopt it over your competitors?

She used these questions to contrast what went right with her successful textbook, Nutrition for a Changing World, the recipient of a 2020 TAA Textbook Excellence Award, and what went wrong with a creative trade book proposal that was never published.

10/19 TAA Webinar: Blunders, Bad Ideas, and Bliss: My Experience Writing a Textbook

Are you contemplating writing a textbook? It can be a daunting process but there are many success stories and opportunities to learn from colleagues who have recently published their content.

Please join XanEdu Publishing and Erica Irlbeck, Ed.D, Professor of Agricultural Education and Communications at Texas Tech and author of The Crisis Communication Guide for Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, on October 19 from 2-3 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “Blunders, Bad Ideas, and Bliss: My Experience Writing a Textbook.”

Register for 9/15 TAA Webinar: ‘How to Leverage a Textbook or Academic Book to Launch a Consulting Career’

Leveraging a textbook or academic book can be a powerful tool in launching a consulting career. Join us Friday, September 15 from 4-5 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “How to Leverage a Textbook or Academic Book to Launch a Consulting Career”. Presenter William Curry, author of three public procurement textbooks, including Contracting for Services in State and Local Government Agencies: Best Practices for Public Procurement (winner of a 2017 Textbook Excellence Award), and founder of a consulting firm that specializes in consulting for state, local, and education entities that wish to implement best practices for public procurement, will share how you can use a textbook or academic book to position yourself as an expert in your field and attract potential clients.

2024 TAA Textbook Award Nominations Open Sept 1

It’s almost time! Nominations for the TAA Textbook Awards will open in two weeks. Starting September 1st, we’ll start accepting nominations for our three prestigious awards:

  • McGuffey Longevity Award – to recognize long-standing textbooks and learning materials that have been in print for at least 15 years.
  • Textbook Excellence Award – to recognize excellence in current textbooks and learning materials.
  • Most Promising New Textbook Award – to recognize promising textbooks and learning materials in their first edition.

Learn more and start preparing your nomination.

2023 TAA Conference on Textbook & Academic Authoring opens mentoring sign up: Limited space available

Gain valuable advice and insight, get your questions answered, or just make a connection for when you need help in the future by signing up to meet with a mentor at the 2023 TAA Conference on Textbook & Academic Authoring, which will be held online June 9-10, 2023.

The deadline for signing up for mentoring is May 15. Limited slots are available and are offered on a first come, first-served basis, so don’t delay, register for the conference today!

Choose from nine different mentors for up to two 15-minute one-on-one discussions:

Laying the foundation for an academic textbook: Testing for audience

It’s one thing to write a textbook; it is another matter entirely to get a critical mass of people to buy. For someone socialized as an academic, the audience for a textbook is a far less specialized one than one is accustomed to addressing. The format has to be perceived as accessible; the audience has to find it welcoming.

A website about trade books provides analytics enough to give a would-be author pause. According to Bookscan, of the 3.2 million books tracked in 2021, fewer than 1percent sold more than 5,000 copies. While I confess to find myself turning to book writing for the sheer love of the spaciousness it affords to expand on ideas, it’s hardly a wise investment of all-too limited time to a write a book that only a few will ever buy.