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.

Q&A: How to penetrate the university textbook adoption process

Q: “I am a new author of a textbook on managing a construction firm. I have several adoptions by professors teaching construction courses at the college level, but I would like to penetrate the university market more. I have been making quiet contact through email to them. Is there a better way? I have attended an educators’ conference in construction and that has been a very good introduction to several people and plan to go back to their summer meeting.”

A: Myrna Bell Rochester:

“I am guessing that your book is with McGraw-Hill ‘Professional’ or ‘Trade’ (based in Chicago), and not with McGraw-Hill Higher Ed. (I write for both of them in a different field.) You are doing the right thing to make your book known, with your personal marketing and making contacts in your own area. Whereas the McGraw Higher Ed division has a very well developed marketing system, McGraw Professional doesn’t (to my knowledge) go to schools and universities to market individual titles.

Q&A: What is the likelihood of a textbook publisher ‘cloning’ your textbook?

Q: “I am working on a different kind of developmental mathematics textbook. It is very difficult, nowadays, to distinguish between current Mathematics textbooks. Mine looks, feels, and reads in a very different unique way. I’ve presented it to one publisher and they are interested. I know that it is to my advantage to approach other publishers, however, should I be concerned that if I do, that they will ‘clone’ my text?”

A: Michael D. Spiegler, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Providence College:

“If you have a good way of approaching the subject matter, others will imitate once your book comes out. You may have an edge as the original. And you’ve made a contribution to the students in your field beyond just your book. It may be possible to get a publisher to sign an agreement stating that they will not come out with a book that clones yours for a given time period. I’ve heard of this being done with other ideas and industry. I’d suggest you consult with a good intellectual property lawyer on this idea. And remember, imitation is the highest form of strategy (or something like that).”

Q&A: Author’s questionnaire–What it is and what you need to know

Q: “What is an “author’s questionnaire’?”

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide:

“An Author’s Questionnaire usually comes from the marketing department to develop leads for reviewers of, contributors to, and especially adopters of your text. I suggest filling it in as completely as possible to make your contacts, colleagues, affiliations, and achievements known to the people who will attempt to market and sell your title. Also include any press–news articles about you (and keep sending them). List your upcoming opportunities to promote your book, such as guest lectures, keynote addresses, interviews in the broadcast media, academic conventions, teleseminars or webinars, etc.

What happens to books in inventory, under contract when publishers sell lists?


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