With the price of textbooks going up these days, you may be interested in writing your own textbook. Perhaps you are a teacher who is not comfortable with textbooks so expensive that they do not meet the needs of your students. Or maybe you have a lot of experience in an area of knowledge and want to compile it in a source that you have at hand. The world of textbook publishing has become more accessible to writers and teachers lately, so with a little practice and patience, you can navigate the writing and publishing process.
Part 1 of 4: Prepare the textbook
Step 1. Decide on the subject and level of knowledge of your audience
It is important to consider these two things at the same time since they will determine from the content included in the book to its design and presentation.
- Write for an audience you know. If you've worked as a math teacher at university, you may not know very well how to reach an audience of high school students.
- If you're writing for an audience you don't know, consider hiring a contributor who is familiar with that demographic.
- As you think about what to write about, consider which areas have no place in modern education. Does your book fill a gap in the market?
Step 2. Do a market search
Textbook publishing is a huge market, much larger than that of traditional books or magazines. You will need to do a market search for similar books and see their prices.
Define your unique selling point. Unique selling points are what makes your textbook special. What does it offer that others do not? You will need to explain to publishers and other professors (who might become your clients) why they should choose your book over others
Step 3. Talk to some authors
Find colleagues who have also published textbooks and ask for their opinion. Did they use a traditional publisher or did they publish their books themselves? How long did it take you to finish your textbook? What would you have liked to know at the beginning of the writing process?
Step 4. Adopt mobile formats
Most textbooks are now published in electronic book or ebook format. Some are only available in this format while others have their physical copy. You should consider how you will adapt your textbook to the digital audience.
Will you include a web page for the textbook where students can find practical questions? Will you design fun games to help educate the public, especially younger students? Consider adding these additional elements to your textbook
Step 5. Prepare for a long road
Writing a book can be time consuming, sometimes it can take years from when you start your draft until it hits the press. Are you prepared to invest all that amount of time?
Are you passionate about your chosen area? In case you have invested in the material you are going to write about, that will help you through the hard work of publishing. In case you simply want to earn money quickly, it will not compensate you for the time and effort spent on this project
Part 2 of 4: Draft the Textbook
Step 1. Make a summary
Start with an idea of how you want to structure the book. Ask yourself any of these questions to help you:
- How many chapters will it have? How will you divide the specific topics between the chapters?
- Will the chapters be independent of each other or will students need to read one before moving on to the next?
- Will you organize the chapters starting with the easy ones and moving on to the more difficult ones? By the time the student completes the textbook, will they be ready to advance to the next level of the knowledge area?
Step 2. Determine the most important materials to include
You may not be able to include all the information related to your area of expertise in the book, so you will need to prioritize the most important content.
- What are the goals of the course in which this textbook will be used? What skills should students have when they finish it? What will they need to know to be ready for the material for the next course or class level?
- How will your textbook adapt to the standardized tests that students will take throughout the course? Consider looking up examples of these tests to help you answer this question.
Step 3. Make a draft of each chapter
You may be tempted to work through each chapter until it's perfect before moving on to the next. Avoid this because it will delay you.
- Instead, write a full draft of each chapter in the book. When you have full drafts of each chapter, you will have a better understanding of how they will all fit together and where you need to add more material or cut their length.
- Create a work schedule and stick to it. If you have a regular habit of writing for your textbook, like for example from 3 to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, you will be able to advance considerably in your work. Avoid typing erratically for long periods of time.
- In case you work with a publication deadline, do not leave the work for another time. Give yourself plenty of time to complete homework on time. Set weekly goals for yourself in the months before your due date.
Step 4. Incorporate visual elements to make the design more attractive
That way, you won't bore the students. Large blocks of text may be difficult for students to process. You will need to visually "break" the page with images, tables, or other graphics.
- Your word processing program (such as Microsoft Word) may not be very useful for including visual elements alongside text. In that case, you should consider putting part of the draft in a design program like Adobe InDesign where you can place the images next to the text.
- Take some time to get to know InDesign and learn its basics. This will come in handy if you decide to publish the book yourself.
- Make sure you have permission to include any images or graphics in your book. If you don't, you could be sued for copyright infringement.
Part 3 of 4: Prepare the textbook for publication
Step 1. Hire an editor
It is possible to find a publisher who works for a textbook publication, a freelance publisher, or a colleague who works in a similar environment. You need to have at least one other "pair of eyes" on your work.
The editor can help you find the best way to organize and clarify your content. It can also help you improve sentences at the level of grammar and word choices
Step 2. Publish your work with a traditional textbook publisher
When you publish a book, you can do it with a traditional textbook publisher or on your own. Traditional textbook publishers include Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Cengage, W. W. Norton & Co., etc. If you work with any of these publishers, you will receive approximately 10% of the profits for each book sold.
- Look for the "Contact" information on the publisher's website. They usually contain instructions on how to submit a book proposal or contact a publisher.
- To be approved by a traditional publisher, you will need to give the publisher a book proposal. This proposal usually includes the title of the book and a summary of 1 or 2 paragraphs of each chapter. Make sure you clearly explain the content of the book and why it is important to your target audience of students.
- Make sure the book "fits" into the publisher's book list. Do they sell other books similar to yours? If they do, it will be a good sign because they won't need to spend extra money promoting a different book from their regular publication list.
- For traditional publishers, you will also have to sell the intellectual property rights to your work to the publisher. That is, you will lose the rights to that material once you sign the contract with it.
Step 3. Publish the textbook yourself
Since sometimes the process of publishing with traditional publishers is competitive, many authors have decided to publish their books themselves with more beneficial results.
- Amazon.com has recently entered the "game" of textbook publishing. In case the authors sell their textbooks themselves through Amazon for $ 9.99 or less, the author will receive 70% of the profits. This is a significantly higher rate than the 10% traditional publishers offer.
- You can also sell your textbook through the iBooks textbook platform or a personal website.
- By publishing the books yourself, it is usually not necessary to create a book proposal and you generally retain the intellectual property rights to the material. However, it is more difficult to advertise your book to colleges and universities.
Part 4 of 4: Launch and Sell the Textbook
Step 1. Promote your textbook
In case you publish it with a traditional publisher, they will take care of promoting your textbook. But if you publish it yourself, you will surely have to create an advertising strategy on your own.
Step 2. Sell the book to your students
In case you are a teacher, your students will be the most obvious customer base. Make your textbook a mandatory part of the class and explain why you created this textbook.
Try to make your textbook significantly cheaper than textbooks from a traditional publisher if you publish it yourself. That way your students or their parents will not believe that you are taking advantage of them
Step 3. Sell the book to your classmates
In case you have used your textbook successfully in your class, share it with some of your peers and researchers. Offer to share short lessons or worksheets from your textbook so they can get a feel for the book before purchasing.
Step 4. Promote your book at professional events
In case there is a large annual conference about your area of expertise, talk to the organizers to request a booth where you can sell your book to colleagues who are interested.
In case there are bloggers in your area of expertise who have a large audience, it is also possible to ask them to talk about your book as a source for their readers
Step 5. Get important opinions
You should be able to show that other professors and researchers endorse your book. This will give you credibility as an author and value to the textbook.