Publishing a TextbookTo publish a textbook
SO YOU WANT TO WRIT A TEXTBOOK: Authors expertise
I' ve wanted to make a textbook almost since I started to teach. However, I always kept a low profile because I didn't know how to do it and because I thought I would fall - after all, I really didn't think I had the skills to compose a textbook. Now I have contracted to create an accounting textbook for South-Western Publishing Company and I was amazed at how simple it was to prepare the suggestion and sell the concept to South-Western.
It is a document designed to inform prospective textbook writers about the possibilities and the processes of creating a textbook, in particular an book of schoolbooks. There are many ways to get a publishing house to adopt a new and original textbook concept. Irwin nominated a new chairman in December 1999 and one of his recognized political priority was the signing of new writers.
Prentice Hall wants to extend its textbook offer to all subjects of accountancy. And the Southwest, whose main emphasis is in the field of market niches, also wants to extend its range of textbooks. The possibilities for new writers to produce a textbook may not have been as good since the 1970s. But to know that the possibilities of authoring a textbook are just now great is probably not enough to start such a big venture (my co-author has likened authoring a textbook to scaling Mount Everest.) So future writers need to find grounds to start authoring and stick with such a company.
There were several good reason why I began to work. Maybe some of those are true of you. And the last reason I chose to compose a textbook - and the ones that ultimately got me to compose - was the wish to help the divisions achieve their objective of AACSB certification and a willing co-author of the textbook.
And when I found a willing co-author who would share some of my thoughts about what an A-Level textbook should do and with whom I could work and exchange, it all came together and I started to write. Identifying the reasons why a professor might not be willing to change to a new textbook is a crucial factor in textbook authoring.
Other higher education faculty members who are teaching the course and using a textbook you wish to challenge, (2) publishing agents who speak to many university faculty members and who probably have a clear understanding of why their textbook offers are not accepted, and (3) publishing houses. Hear these resources and be ready to change what you think is the ideal solution if you want to succeed.
More important is to find a "successful idea" that persists in an ineffective, "perfect idea". "Once you've learned why university teachers have not adopted another textbook and come up with an inventive way to overcome this opposition and teach the materials, it's a good thing to outsource the concept to a publishing house.
Submitting a suggestion and the resulting talks with a trader, which ultimately lead to a signing agreement, are very similar to fishing for trout, in which you first draw the fish's eye and then draw the catch to take the hook. Usually publishing houses have policies regarding the information they want in a suggestion, and all information required should be provided.
A few of the information that should be included in the proposition are: in which grades the textbook is used; whether the textbook can be used in a course other than accountancy; the number of titles sold in the destination markets; who are the main writers and books; and what is their respective shares of the markets.
You should also know why each textbook is fragile and be able to show how your textbook will successfully battle the other one. When you provide this information, you will get to know the markets and the competitors and know that you have done your research, the publishing house will be significantly influenced in terms of the value of your ideas.
Every times I and my co-author would meet an editors of one of the publishing houses we were in negotiation with, I was struck by what they knew about the other publishers: which new writers were added, how was the way they approached their textbook, how good were their suggestions, etc.?
Don't try to complete the whole volume before you contact a publishing house. Today, every editor wants to contribute to the development of the concept. You are not struck by a ready-made article presented to you with a plea to release it now. A number of sections should, however, be incorporated in the text rather better than a crude text, so that they can see the substance of what is before them.
In contrast to a magazine paper in which a magazine should refuse a script before it is sent to another magazine, it is ethically justifiable to submit a textbook suggestion to several publishing houses at the same press. And it is definitely to the author's benefit if more than one editor is interested in his ideas. In order to demonstrate this, my co-author and I first sent our suggestion to two publishing houses, and in a relatively brief space of grace we got a favourable reply from one of them asking us to get together and further debate the aspects of our same.
Throughout this period, an editorial writer for South-Western, whose task it was to find new scripts, contacted my co-author, and when the topic of textbook composition was raised, she showed interest in our script - especially when she learned that another publishing house had already shown interest. I and my co-author have no doubts that the reasons why the talks with South-Western progressed so quickly were their wish to defeat the other one.
One last remark on the sale of the concept is to have the materials checked by another writer and to suggest it to a publishers instead of send it "cold" to the publishers. During a recent rendezvous with two southwestern journalists, I asked them what percent of the suggestions they received were finally published.
You replied that almost none of the suggestions were finally made public that were filed "coldly", but that about a third of the suggestions were finally made public that was suggested by another writer or that was tracked down like our work. If a publishing house chooses to sponsor and release the textbook you want to create, it offers you a "Boiler Plate" agreement.
It' important to realise that this is only the starting point for negotiations, and to understand what the publishing house can do and what it expects from the author is important information to help in negotiating an agreeable agreement. Prior to my departure for Cincinnati, I passed by the offices of a fellow who had worked in publishing for several years to get a consult.
After all, he said to me that every editor has the capacity of an 800-pound giant to prevail in a dispute in which no friendly agreement could be achieved, and that I should be able to comprehend that in all negotiation. Its main tasks are the following - You' re writing the script. - Ready the attachment, although the publishers will do so for a charge.
And the most important things the publishing company does are: - Providing and updating a website that endorses the work, but the editor would like the author's contribution. - Promote the work. Objects that can be negotiated between the publishers and the publishers are:: - Number of colours, the default for a first issue is two colours, but this is negociable, - The authoring of the aids, e.g. student guides, teacher's handbook and text bench, is negociable.
In my opinion, the basic benefit of the author is the overall co-ordination of the materials, but the drawback is the extra workload. Writers who decide to use these tools should receive adequate compensation for the letter in supplement to the licence fees.
A further possible benefit of having other users writing the tools is that they are more motivated to use them. A number of prospective writers are concerned about whether a publishers would buy their books in order to ban them from competing against a previously released one. A serious publishing house wouldn't do that.
You should know, however, that the copyrights belong to the publishing house, not to the writer. But I know of a situation where the publishing house has been selling the copyrights to the writers when they are unhappy. I have been informed several occasions in discussions with publishing houses that the better instructors are the better textbook writers.
In many cases, outstanding scientists do not produce good schoolbooks. Part of the cause is the way it is written. Magazine contributions are aimed at people of the same age, people who already know the jargon, while text books are aimed at college undergraduates. Think of the public when you' re typing; don't think of other teachers.
Do you want to make the notebook legible? I found that the mean legibility was 18 in a 20 year long survey on the legibility of the standard Intermediate Accounting textbook. I recently reread a paper article that said that the most common literacy is 6 no wonder most pupils don't actually get the script - just said they don't comprehend it.
As you write, use decorative phrases, live voices, be succinct, and use many pauses to speed up the script and give the pupil enough space to understand the work. As a first step in scheduling the release date, the first choice to be made is whether the product will be competing with the big titles on the open house or whether it will be released off-cycle.
When you want to reach a part of the current textbook leader's part of the world, you have to face each other. As soon as this is decided, you know that it takes 9-12 month after the first copy is printed before the first one comes off thepress. It is also important to keep in mind that it is best to test the product in the room for at least a year before you finish it.
After all, you should know that it will take at least two years to complete the work. To sum up, the release schedule looks something like this: - 1 year to make the suggestion and get a publishing house. - At least two years to finish the work. - 1 year for release. The entire period from the initial concept to the first volume to be published on the market is around five years.
This can of course be affected by the length of the volume and the number of co-authors. Information in this section was obtained through discussions with several members of the books community and large textbook publishing houses.