5 Textbook authoring time management tips

Good time management skills are crucial for authors. Manage your time well and you can maximize your efficiency, allowing you to meet or beat deadlines and still have time for other activities. Five successful textbook authors share the following time management tips:

  1. Prioritize writing and other work and life commitments. “Ask yourself: What’s most important? If family life ranks highest, then set aside writing in favor of spending time with loved ones. When you return to your desk, you’ll focus far more effectively and get more accomplished because you will not be distracted by thoughts of having sacrificed life experiences that are deeply important to you.” —Laura Berk, author of Exploring Lifespan Development

How a copy editor can help you polish your work

As a professional freelance copy editor, I have the pleasure and honor of working with publishers and authors of scholarly titles. I have known authors who resisted copy editing (or any kind of editing), and publishers who won’t pay for a thorough edit of a manuscript. Sadly, these occurrences generally result in inferior work being published.

You may wonder why you should work with an editor at any stage of your writing. Working with an editor that you hire can help prepare your book for a publisher by making it clearer, effective, and easier to read. Most reputable publishing houses will have copyediting done as part of the process of publishing to clean up your text and make sure it conforms to the publisher’s style.

5 Tips for writing a journal article abstract

When writing an abstract, consider its aim. An abstract is intended to tell the reader the basic, most important aspects of your work so that he or she can decide whether or not to read the rest of the paper.

Those five basic aspects are:

  1. What it is that you’re talking about (the subject matter)
  2. Why he/she should care (why the subject matter is important)
  3. What you found (or hope to find out) about the subject matter (what your research question or intention is)
  4. How you learned (or intend to learn) about the subject matter (the research methodology)
  5. What your conclusions were (when appropriate–conclusions don’t belong in the abstract of a dissertation or thesis proposal)

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: You’ve reached your maximum number of textbook pages, but lack content. Now what?

Q: “I am writing a book under contract and my chapters have been running so long I have already written the maximum number of pages negotiated with my publisher, yet have only fulfilled half the overall content promised. How should I approach this with the publisher? Should I renegotiate the overall content covered in the book or engage in some major editing?”

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, author of Writing & Developing Your College Textbook:

“I suggest first clarifying if the publisher’s contract is referring to book pages or manuscript pages. You can usually figure 2.5 double- spaced manuscript pages per book page for a book with around 500 words per page, which is standard for an 8 X 10 trim size, which is standard for a textbook. For a 14- to 16-chapter textbook, no chapter should exceed 40 book pages in length.

Q&A: What to consider when recycling content from writing project to writing project

Q: “A general question: You are writing a book — in one chapter, you wish to include information that you have used in another book with another publisher. What is the rule of thumb — if there is one — about how much information can be used and/or the level of changes necessary?”

A: Jay Devore, Professor Emeritus, Department of Statistics, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo:

“I’ve been thinking about this issue because a colleague and I are thinking about collaborating on a business statistics book (introductory statistics for a business audience). I have written statistics books for engineers and also for a general audience — 4 in total, all published by Thomson. But Thomson (actually their subsidiary Southwestern) already has a full stable of business stat books, so may not be interested in publishing another one.