Friday, April 20, 2012

From Instructor to Author - A Magic Show

My absence - especially after such an amazing run of day-by-day activity in March - is due entirely to the fact that I've only seen 3 days at home this month. The rest of my time has been spent on the road. Alabama came first at the beginning of the month. And I'm currently sitting in Bismark Airport in North Dakota at the end of my trip here.

I was invited by a department at the University of North Dakota to come speak about what the publishing process is like for an instructor who is interested in becoming an author. The presentation went really well, I do have to say - the department responded well to it and I think I may have gotten more than one lead.

How does it work, then? How does one go from teaching in front of a classroom to penning a textbook?

The Idea: The idea part is pretty crucial. Most of my travel time is spent talking to people, poking my nose in their daily teaching life, trying to find the weaknesses in hopes that I can come up with an idea to help fill a need. During the presentation I asked, on a show of hands, how many instructors feel as though they'd already written a book, given the amount of information/materials they'd had to collect and/or write themselves to supplement, or sometimes even lead, classroom learning. The response was overwhelming. And so - from this weakness, this need - an idea is born.

Proposal: Some proposals come unsolicited, which is - amazing.  Unfortunately - in my disciplines - this is rarely the case. Instead, I'm usually doing a search for my authors. LinkedIn has proved INCREDIBLY useful. As has Twitter, actually - where I've been able to carry on conversations with both industry and education. Anyway - whatever means I use to come by talented and enthusiastic authors, a proposal - or a formal outline and explanation of your project - is absolutely needed. We provide would-be authors with a document on How to Prepare a Textbook Proposal.

Reviews: Your proposal gives me the opportunity to do some market research. Seek out other schools that might be in need of the same subject - find out what the competition has done and how they've done it. Reviews are crucial - done by subject matter experts at schools around the country, they give me the feedback I need to truly determine if the book is going to make an impact.

Party: Just kidding - we don't have a party. But once everything has been reviewed and approved, we agree to make you an author an move on to the real writing stages of your project.

Manuscript: I try to give new authors about a year and a half to two years to write. It seems like such a long time, but believe me... it goes rather quickly! And we try to make it clear, especially with my disciplines - write as you teach, not as you think a Pulitzer Prize winning author for literature might. We have copy editors who can help with the grammar.

Development/Production: At this stage, the book gets all sorted. A design layout is placed and the book is sent off to print.

Abracadabra! You're now an author!

My disciplines are: Welding, Mechanical Technology, Process Technology and Aviation. Use LinkedIn or Twitter to contact me for more information.

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