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6 Tips for Selecting the Right Textbook Publisher

Mar 11, 2015 by Text and Academic Authors Association

Selecting the right publisher for your textbook is key to the success of your project, so it’s important to find a good match.

Allen R. Angel, author of A Survey of Mathematics with Applications (9th Edition), and an algebra series, now in its 8th edition, and Patricia Heyman, author of International Cooking: A Culinary Journey (2nd Edition) share the following 6 tips to consider when comparing publishers:

  1. Consider the editorial approach of each publishing company. Look for a publisher that will allow your voice to come through in the finished textbook and will make layout and art selections that reflect your style. For example, Heyman said that she once decided against approaching a particular publishing company because its style of food photography, a very important feature of a culinary textbook, differed drastically from her own preferences.
  2. Select a publisher with a strong sales force. For Heyman, this meant choosing a large publishing house over a smaller one: “I decided to go with a big publisher if at all possible because I didn’t want to market the book myself,” she said. “I am willing to take a lower royalty rate and have somebody with a strong sales force take care of marketing—I don’t want to have to become an expert in the publishing industry.”
  3. Think about your competition. “Consider the number and quality of the books you will be competing against in your own publishing company,” Angel said. “Will the sales force push your book over the well-known, successful book you are competing against?” Angel recommends speaking to each prospective editor about this issue.
  4. Evaluate the editors. While there is frequently a high turn-over rate among editors, both Angel and Heyman recommend speaking with potential editors to see how your personalities mesh.
  5. Cast a wide net. During the book proposal stage both Angel and Heyman recommend casting a wide net in order to maximize the potential for publication. If multiple companies are interested in your project, you will then be in a better position to accept the best offer you receive.
  6. Consider the contract. Once you have received an offer, be sure to carefully evaluate each aspect of the contract. To identify the best deal possible and to help guide your decision, Angel urges authors to carefully consider issues such as the amount of input you would have on the final product, the revision cycle for the book, and the royalty rates for basic print sales, foreign market sales, translations, and e-books.

The Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) provides professional development resources, industry news, and networking opportunities for textbook authors and authors of scholarly journal articles and books. TAA offers a wide array of resources and benefits that can help in maximizing your publishing success, including publication grants and textbook contract review grants, audio conferences and webinars, an online library of how-to articles, a quarterly print newsletter, and a variety of networking opportunities available through the online member community.

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