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Albert Einstein once said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” This week’s collection of posts from around the web may challenge your thoughts about academic and textbook writing and processes.

Included in the collection are ways to change your thinking when publishing journal articles, completing a dissertation, or reading over the summer. There are articles on open science, open educational resources, and Pearson’s announcement of a “digital first” textbook publishing model. We close the list with articles on retaining perspective and developing new skills. This week, I challenge you to change your thinking to improve your writing practice. Happy writing!

Myths and truths about publishable journal articles

What are the essential ingredients for a publishable research article? Most academics know that their classroom essay or conference paper is not yet publishable, but they’re not entirely sure why. So let me debunk some common myths about what makes an article publishable and then turn to what, in fact, does make one acceptable to a journal.

A 5 step program for finishing your PhD (finally!)

After watching over 400 people go through this program, I’ve got a good idea of what it takes to finish a dissertation. Below is my patented, trialled and tested 5 step program for drawing a line under your PhD studies and calling it done.

Summer reading – or – not all reading is the same

I’ve got a few reading things on the go over summer. I have a bid to write, and a few papers. Indulge me while I describe what this actually means I am doing. I hope to show you that all reading is not the same. We read different things for different purposes, and because of that, we do different things with the texts.

Transitioning to a new peer review system: From scary to successful

The peer review process is the foundation of many journals, upon which their reputation is built. A great deal of thought and work goes into ensuring a good experience for authors, reviewers, and editors, and the idea of ‘starting over’ with a new peer review management system can make you break out in a cold sweat. But maybe the journal has expanded beyond its home-grown solution, maybe editorial boards are clamoring for updated features or functionality, maybe you’re dissatisfied with the level of customer service/support you receive, or maybe it’s the price tag. Sometimes you need a new system.

What does Open Science mean to me, and why is it important?

I was recently asked to record a snippet on Open Science, for the Open Science MOOC. Here’s the statement that I prepared to organize my thoughts (I ended up rephrasing this as I talked for the recording, but the idea is there).

Library publishers convene in Vancouver to discuss open platforms and open educational resources

From May 8 to 10th of this year, about two hundred librarians, publishers, and all flavors in between gathered at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver for the 6th annual Library Publishing Coalition Forum. The Pre-Conference on Wednesday, May 8th, focused on Open Educational Resources, had about 90 attendees. The open theme carried over into the main event with presentations on open publishing platforms of many kinds.

Shelf control? Largest textbook publisher is ditching books and going ‘digital first’

Pearson, the biggest publisher of educational books in North America, announced it will abandon its traditional textbook publishing model for all 1,500 of its U.S. publications in favor of a digital-first strategy. The company said print books will still be available, but only on a rental basis.

Pearson and pedagogy

For textbook authors, the change will be significant. As publishers invest more heavily in digital courseware with built-in assessments and learner analytics, they have started to sign fewer textbook authors.

Furnishing our corners of the internet

For me, retaining perspective on what is meaningful and pleasurable in life can disperse anxieties and enable me to concentrate on things that make me happy and where I feel I can do effective work that’s valued. This post features a bunch of sites and comics that I regularly read. A good way for me to recalibrate my world-view is through engaging with satire and the absurd, by participating in both the consumption and production of such cultural texts.

Ask the chefs: New skills

We often hear people say that the pace of change is increasing. Norms and expectations are changing. There are more pressures and demands placed on us as we attempt to keep up. In the context of technology we’ve also talked of how we prioritize our choices. What do we do? And when do we pass on something new? But how are we managing this on an individual level? Where are we (or should we) be investing time in building our skills? This month we asked the Chefs: What new skill have you developed in the last five years? Why is it important?

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In March 2019, Angelique M. Davis, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Global African Studies at Seattle University; and academic editor and writing consultant, Rose Ernst, presented a TAA webinar titled “How Trello Can Transform Your Life as an Academic”. For those unfamiliar with the tool, Trello is a collaborative platform that uses boards, lists, and cards to organize projects.

During this event, Davis and Ernst incorporated a demonstration and template of a Trello board based on Erin Furtak’s publishing pipeline. As related to the publishing pipeline, they shared the following four specific benefits academics can gain by using Trello.

Benefit #1 – Trello lets you identify patterns and habits

“The publishing pipeline helps you see your own habits when it comes to different stages of the publishing process.” Based on where items pile up within the pipeline, you can identify common places for stalls, such as first drafts or revise and resubmit processes.

Benefit #2 – Trello lets you maintain a sense of momentum

“If you are visually oriented, Trello is particularly useful in maintaining a sense of writing and publishing momentum.” By moving items along the publishing pipeline in Trello, you can see your progress on projects based on the smaller tasks as they are accomplished rather than feeling frustrated by the incomplete larger project.

Benefit #3 – Trello helps you understand how long it takes to complete projects

“Trello allows you to track time.” Trello allows you to mark cards with due dates. You can use those dates to assess original expectations against actual performance on specific project tasks to better understand how long each part of the publishing process (from idea to publication) takes to complete.

Benefit #4 – Trello helps you celebrate your successes along the way

“Like maintaining momentum, the combined use of Trello and the publishing pipeline can really help you celebrate success.” At the point you move a card from one stage to another within the publishing pipeline, this can be a signal for celebrating the smaller successes rather than waiting until the project reaches publication at a later date.

If you’re interested in getting started with the publishing pipeline on Trello, check out the public board made available during the live webinar.

Bonus: Tips for getting the most out of Trello

Davis and Ernst also shared five general tips for getting the most out of Trello as an academic.

  1. Use color-coded labels for chapters/sections of a book to see progress across multiple stages of the publishing pipeline
  2. Use the checklist feature of a Trello card to itemize the steps for a larger task
  3. Attach files from various sources like Google Drive, DropBox, and OneDrive
  4. Use Trello on mobile devices and tablets to manage your card and boards anywhere
  5. Use the Trello Add-In for Outlook to easily attach email content to Trello boards

Have you used Trello? What additional benefits or tips do you have to share? Comment below.

The complete session recording is available in TAA’s Presentations on Demand library.

Eric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.

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During the 2019 TAA Awards Ceremony on June 14th in Philadelphia, PA, in addition to honoring our thirty-one Textbook Award winners, five individuals were honored with TAA Council awards recognizing exemplary contributions to the Association and the authoring community, and two individuals were inducted into the TAA Council of Fellows.

The awards were given by Mike Kennamer, TAA Council President during the ceremony. His remarks on each of the winners and inductees are included below.

2019 President’s Award for extraordinary service to TAA

Kennamer “decided to buck the system a bit and award two president’s awards this year.” The first award went to Maureen Foerster with the following remarks.

“The first is one of the first TAA people I met. I was in Reno at my first TAA conference in 2013 and, as the incoming secretary, had been invited to sit in on the council meeting held the day before the conference. One of the first people that I had a conversation with is someone with a delightful personality, a can-do attitude, and a work ethic second to none. Now those of you who know me, know that I’m a bit of an introvert. But when this person came up and started talking to me, I was made to feel very welcome and became really engaged in conversation about the conference, the organization, and the council. The enthusiasm exuded by this person rubbed off, and while I don’t show it in the same way that many people do, this encounter made me excited about TAA and what we can accomplish together.

Since then, I have worked closely with this person on a number of projects, and have found that excitement, enthusiasm, and hard work to be as strong or perhaps stronger today than it was in 2013. Since 2013, a number of things have changed. The organization hired a full-time executive director, and a number of job duties have shifted among staff.

In 2013, at the conference in Reno, we had about 55 people in attendance. A couple years later, our attendance had almost doubled. The next year, it had almost tripled. Maureen Foerster didn’t ask to be the conference planner, but when she was asked to take it on, she took it on 100%.

Not only has our attendance increased, our costs have decreased. Maureen is a highly-skilled negotiator. When I was chair of the conference committee, I joked that the next time I bought a car I wanted to fly Maureen in to negotiate for me. She has negotiated some fantastic rates for us, which has allowed us to meet in some venues that would have never gotten but for her skill in negotiation.

Maureen also expertly prepares the TAA newsletter and has reorganized our workshop and chapter programs, making them both significantly more efficient and cost-effective. In fact, our workshop program brings in more new members to TAA than anything else we do.

So if you are enjoying this year’s conference, or enjoy reading the newsletter, or have otherwise been impacted by Maureen’s service to the organization, (and if you are in this room, you have), please join me in congratulating Maureen Foerster as the recipient of the 2019 President’s Award!”

The second President’s Award recipient was Steve Barkan. Kennamer shared the following remarks about Steve.

“So as I said, I didn’t limit myself to one president’s award this year, because I wanted to recognize another person who has been instrumental in TAA’s success, growth, and stability over the past several years.

I also met this person at that first conference I attended in 2013. I was coming on the council as secretary and he was coming on council as vice president/president-elect.

Since that sort of gives away who it is, I’ll say that Steve Barkan has been a quiet, diligent leader in TAA as long as I have been active on the council. Though he agreed to serve as president, he never seeks the limelight, and has worked very hard to advance the association in every role that he has held. He and I have presented together at the conference, we have written a blog article together, and when he was vice president, he nominated me to succeed him in that role.

Serving on council and being an officer in TAA requires a good deal of time and effort. We have an excellent professional staff that guides the daily operations, but the officers are called upon for a number of items. In the past six years of working with Steve, every time he was asked to do something or to lend his advice, he responded quickly, thoughtfully, and with a great deal of wisdom.

As someone who has followed him as vice president, then president, and past president, I cannot think of a better example of service to an organization than Steve. I have learned a great deal about TAA, about leadership, and about service from Steve. For that reason, I wish to recognize him as the 2019 President’s Award recipient.”

Norma Hood Award – For devotion and commitment to TAA demonstrated through works performed outside the limelight

“The Norma Hood Award, named for a former staff member, is awarded to an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to TAA by quietly working outside the limelight to help move the organization forward.

This year’s Norma Hood Award goes to a special person. Unfortunately, due to health concerns, he is unable to be with us this year. But this man is no stranger to TAA. He has served on council, written newsletter articles, and served as our executive director for eight years. I am speaking, of course, of our good friend, Richard Hull!

Richard did not know that he was to receive this award but called Mike Spinella a couple weeks ago to let him know that his health simply would not let him attend the conference this year. We will be sure that Richard receives this award with all our appreciation.”

Mike Keedy Award – For enduring service to authors

“The Mike Keedy award is named for one of our founding members, and is specifically targeted for those who make exceptional efforts in service to authors or the authoring community. In the case of this year’s winner, the service to authors comes in the form of educating them about royalties and helping them to defend their rights or simply navigate the complex mysteries of royalty statements.

She has conducted webinars for TAA and regularly presents at the annual Conference. In addition, she has served as a helpful advisor to Kim as she sought objective information for our blog posts about the Cengage Unlimited plan and its likely effects on author royalties. On top of all that, she is preparing to begin her second term as TAA’s Treasurer. The Mike Keedy Award this year goes to Juli Saitz.”

Paul Anderson Award – In recognition of exceptional efforts to advance the Textbook & Academic Authors Association and serve its members

“Awardees are nominated for this next award for their special efforts in promoting TAA to their colleagues, at their university, or in the authoring community. It is also given for extraordinary service to TAA and its members. Activities such as encouraging faculty and students to join TAA, public advocacy of authoring issues and values, or helping establish or chair a TAA Chapter may qualify members for the award.

This year’s winner is a longtime TAA member and Council member who has worked in a number of areas for the organization. She also helps promote workshops for TAA at her own university and has managed to get several of her colleagues interested in attending TAA meetings and becoming members.

This winner is the kind of person who simply says ‘yes’ when you ask if she can help out. She has led Strategic Planning efforts for TAA; she currently serves on the Executive Committee, the Governance Committee, andthe Personnel Committee! She has served two full terms as Secretary of TAA, and on June 30, she will step down after 11 years as a Council member and/or officer of TAA! We can only hope that she is taking a much deserved, but short, break, and that she will return to council soon. With much appreciation, the Paul Anderson Award for this year goes to Claudia Sanchez!”

TAA Council of Fellows

Induction into the Council of Fellows is the premier honor bestowed by TAA. This year two new members were inducted. Kennamer’s remarks on each are below.

“It is my privilege now to announce the induction of two new members into TAA’s Council of Fellows. The Council of Fellows is the highest honor TAA confers on an author. It signifies a career-long commitment and exercise of excellence in teaching, academic and/or textbook authoring, service to authors, and service to the TAA community.

The committee that makes these selections includes members of the Council of Fellows, as well as the TAA President and Immediate Past President. We review applications and CVs with care, to ensure that all nominees who are admitted to the Council of Fellows have a solid record of accomplishment, but even more important, expect to continue striving to contribute in their academic discipline and to TAA.

With that said, I am proud to announce the first of our Council of Fellows inductees for this year.

Kevin Patton is a longtime member and contributor to TAA. He regularly presents at this conference and contributes to The Academic Author newsletter. He was recently elected as Vice President/President-Elect of TAA, and will take the role of vice president next month. In fact, three years from now you will find him on this stage as your president.

On a personal note, I was using Kevin’s books long before I ever met him—and was impressed by his writing. Now that I have had the privilege to get to know him, I am even more impressed. Congratulations Kevin!

Our second Council of Fellows inductee is also strong contributor to TAA providing content many of you have enjoyed and benefited from. Please join me in congratulating Janet Salmons!

Janet is a regular webinar provider for TAA, and also contributes newsletter articles and conference sessions. Last year, Janet was the winner of our Mike Keedy Award, but was unable to attend the Conference. This year, we are so pleased to have her back with us and are excited to induct her into the Council of Fellows!”

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This week’s collection of articles from around the web offers tools and advice for moving your academic writing projects forward. Whether that requires beating the summer writing blues, getting your PhD on track, thinking about the warrant for a paper, or building authority and expanding your network, this list has you covered. We also found insight on surviving the conference marathon and reasons researchers should volunteer for global evidence gathering processes.

Whatever your current writing entails, strive to make the product of your work that of highest quality. As John Ruskin once said, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” Happy writing!

Beating the summer writing blues

Joy Gaston Gayles and Anthony Ocampo share some strategies to help you feel more confident about the quality and quantity of your work over the next few months.

How to use project management to get your PhD on track

Project Management is not going to solve it all. It is not a magic wand that you can flick to transform a failing project into a success. However, it can help you work smarter, and as a result, be more focused and productive in what you do. It is not about cramming more hours into your overloaded days. Project management is about structuring your work in a way that allows you to make better choices, focus on what gets you closer to your goal, and reduce the day-to-day stress of working with uncertainty.

Patter is eight and celebrating with writing skeletons

So in honour of the writing skeleton and patter’s birthday, here is one new skeleton to use when thinking about the warrant for a paper – be it conference or journal. This is one I use in writing workshops around papers and chapters and sometimes the thesis.

Build your authority and network with an Instagram Challenge

An Instagram Challenge is a creative way to build your presence and expand your network. You will also build the habit of posting daily which will increase your followers and engagement rates. If you want to get started or increase your presence on Instagram but you aren’t sure what to post or what type of content is best, participating in an Instagram Challenge allows you to create a whole load of content and see what works and doesn’t for you.

Surviving the conference marathon

My first conference outside my university was a big one at a big university in a big city. I was eighteen months into my PhD, and while I’d presented my research to colleagues, this was new territory. Over the next week I fumbled my way through small-talk with professors and an overwhelming schedule but in the end I was still alive to tell the tale. Since then, I’ve attended conferences around the world and continued to learn not only how to survive, but to thrive in what can seem like a terrifying environment. Your supervisor should be able to help you write an abstract and paper, I want to help you prepare for the social aspect of conferences.

Why should researchers volunteer for global evidence gathering processes?

The IPCC assessment is a good example of global scientific effort of evidence-informed policy-influencing. Whether we are established scientists or early-career researchers, we should get involved in such voluntary processes, making them as inclusive and rigorous as possible. Large-scale initiatives that help us to understand our nature and its changes, and guide our actions, require us to act collectively. Only altruistic enthusiasm in research can make it happen.

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At the TAA Conference in Philadelphia this past month, I heard many comments about open access. They varied widely from support, to derision, to misunderstanding, to apathy.

First, what is open access? In its purest form, open access is offering or publishing material online, free of cost or barriers with an open license that removes most restrictions on use and reuse. The open access or OA movement has been around twenty plus years with its roots going back much farther than that.

Many people associate OA with peer review scholarly journals. The OA option has transformed the subscription publishing model. Before authors would have their work published in a journal that had barriers to accessing the content, but the publishing cost them nothing (and they made nothing) from the effort.

Now many authors that choose to publish via OA have to pay an APC or article processing charge. This fee may be a few hundred dollars, or a few thousand. But the published article has no restrictions and can be read by anyone, anywhere in the world. Some of the largest OA journals are also the most prestigious and most sought after. It is no longer looked down upon, but is a legitimate option for authors, like it or not.

Or course there are organizations that take advantage of this system. They are predatory publishers. They accept all papers and add no value to content. They are just in it for the money. There are ways to spot these companies and lists that call out journals for these practices.

This aside, OA journal publishing is here to stay. And it is legit.

Open access moved over to other materials such course materials and books years ago. Less mature systems exist in book publishing than in the journal publishing, but they are coming.

At TAA, I heard people disparage OA book publishing. Some OA book programs deserve it, but many do not and certainly they all don’t need to painted with the same brush.

I am neutral regarding the push and pull between OA and the model that requires the readers to pay/buy the content. Both will continue to exist and serve their purpose.

But OA books is real and will continue to grow. Authors and readers will need to understand and adapt to these models.

Like or not, the world is moving toward free and open. Encyclopedia Britannicawas a monolith and now, due to Wikipedia, it is virtually unknown by today’s students.

Look at YouTube. Free content. Countless other examples exist. Search the web for any educational topic and you will find wheat and chaff. An important new skill will be to educate students, readers, consumers, and authors on how to tell the high-quality free content sites from the low quality, ad-ridden, scam sites. It can be done.

All TAA members will be affected one way or another by open access, either as authors, readers, or instructors. Adjusting with the changing landscape is all it takes.

Let me know about your experience and perspective on open access. I am all ears.

John Bond is a publishing consultant at Riverwinds Consulting. He works with individuals on publishing and writing projects. Schedule an initial complimentary phone call at Publishing Fundamentals. In his career, he has directed the publishing of over 500 book titles and 20,000 journal articles. He is the host of the YouTube channel “Publishing Defined.”Contact him at jbond@riverwindsconsulting.com.

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The Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA) announces a Call for Proposals for its 2020 conference to be held June 12-13 in San Diego, CA. We invite the submission of session presentations relevant to writing, publishing, and marketing textbooks and academic works (journal articles, books, and monographs). The session proposal deadline is October 7, 2019.

A highly interactive event, the conference will be attended by authors and aspiring authors of textbooks, journal articles, and other academic works, as well as by industry professionals from across the country.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Time Management and Writing Productivity
  • Tech Tools to Enhance Your Works
  • Publishing Industry Updates & Trends
  • Navigating Copyright and Permissions
  • Savvy Contract and Royalty
  • Negotiating & Monitoring
  • Marketing Your Works and Creating Your Brand
  • Authoring in an Open Access/OER Environment
  • Non-Traditional Paths to Getting Published

Session proposals can be submitted for the following formats:

Traditional Presentation: 60-minute session featuring one to three speakers; approximately a 40-50 minute presentation with time for 10-15 minutes of Q&A.
Panel Discussion: 60 or 90 minute session with multiple presenters (Maximum 4). Active audience participation is encouraged and expected.
Roundtable Discussion: 60-minute small-group discussion moderated by the roundtable presenter and focusing on one authoring or publishing topic.

Please submit your proposal by October 7, 2019. TAA’s Conference Committee will review all proposals and notify you of the status of your submission by November 19, 2019. TAA’s conference will take place at the beautiful Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter located in the heart of downtown San Diego.

Click Here for Presenter Submission Guidelines and Online Proposal Form.

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At TAA’s 2019 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference, industry insider Sean Wakely and royalty auditor Juli Saitz addressed some common questions authors have about what prerogatives publishers have in respect to publication decisions, calculating royalty payments, marketing, and rights, with hypothetical examples from their point of view.

Here are the questions and answers from that session, divided into five parts:


Q: Can the publisher reduce my royalties going forward because of rising costs?

A: Probably not without your agreement.
Q: Can the publisher stop publishing my book if I don’t agree to reduced royalties because of “rising costs”?

A: Yes. Publishers generally retain the right to cease the publication of a book for any reason.

Q: Is there a limit to the amount a publisher can deduct from my royalties for permissions or other costs?

A: Probably not. There is no limit on such deductions unless the author negotiates a cap and/or cost sharing at the time the publishing agreement is signed.

Q: Can the publisher charge me for making changes during the proofreading process?

A: Yes. In order to discourage authors from rewriting after the book has been edited and typeset, penalties for extensive rewriting at the page proof stage are outlined in most agreements. The key is to finalize the manuscript in the copyediting process and confine changes after typesetting to corrections. Other schedule delays, introduction of errors, and cost overruns will result.

Q: Can the publisher deduct costs of defending an infringement lawsuit from my royalties?

A: Generally, yes. Most publishing agreements include this provision, and publishers are unlikely to concede it.


Q: Can the publisher make all decisions regarding title, order of authors’ names, cover, interior design, supplemental materials, price, marketing program, etc.?

A: Generally, yes – unless you specifically negotiated approval over such elements. It’s likely a publisher will agree to “consultation” at some point. Consultation means the publisher agrees to seek your input, but it still makes the final decisions.

Q: Can the publisher charge my royalties for photo research, photo permissions, researching illustrations, permissions to use illustrations, text permissions research, text permissions, and supplements?

A: Maybe. Textbook publishing agreements generally provide for the publisher to pay such costs up front and then deduct those costs from authors’ royalties.  This is a contract term that is typically negotiated between the author and publisher at the time the publishing agreement is signed.

Q: Can the publisher require me to keep the agreement confidential?

A: Yes. This is a standard provision in most textbook publishing agreements.

Q: Can the publisher include content from the work in generic learning supplements for the specific discipline without paying royalties?

A: Maybe. This is a new area that most publishing agreements do not fully anticipate or address.  A very close read of the publishing agreement is crucial for answering this question.  Key questions include:  Are such supplements being sold?  Is the author being paid a permission fee instead of a royalty for the use of the content?

Q: Can the publisher remove the author from a project without his/her consent?

A: Sometimes. Textbook publishing agreements generally anticipate an author’s potential non-performance or death. Such circumstances allow the publisher to retain talent to revise or complete the work and charge the author or author’s estate. Even so, in most cases the author or the estate remains a party to the publishing agreement for some period or even indefinitely. Some publishing agreements allow the publisher to terminate the agreement with a non-performing coauthor when there are multiple authors involved.


Q: Can a publisher pay a different royalty rate for digital sales?

A: Maybe. Some publishers’ agreements specify different royalty rates for digital sales and some do not.  Read a proposed contract carefully regarding this point.

Q: Can a publisher pay royalty rates that are half of the regular rate on certain sales?

A: Generally, yes. Most textbook publishing agreements provide for some reduced royalty rates on certain “channel sales” based on increased costs of exploiting those channels, deep discounts, or long-standing custom. Channel sales include sales outside of the U.S., sales to secondary to schools, remainder sales, sales to the U.S. military, etc.

Q: Can the publisher classify a sale to its benefit? Ex. Publisher sells 30,000 units, but is coded as a “special” sale and paid at a lower rate than a “regular” sale.

A: This is acceptable under most publishing agreements. The publisher is usually given wide latitude to determine the nature of a sale and what royalty rate applies. The expectation is these determinations will be applied consistently.

Q: Can the publisher cross-collect between multiple titles if I publish more than one book for outstanding advances or returned units?

A: Most publishing agreements are based on a general royalty account model. This allows the publisher to pool costs and deduct them from any author’s title under contract or any edition of the same title. This can be a point of negotiation when a contract is signed. While a publisher may agree to confine all cost deductions to the associated title, it is unlikely to limit its right to deduct old edition returns from the new edition’s royalty payments.

Q: Can the publisher pay pro rata or proportional share for the use of the work in combination with other works or when included in a database (e.g. value allocation)?

A: Yes. Industry practice for proportional shares and royalty payments based on customer works has long precedent and is generally accepted. Database models are newer, however, and industry practice is still evolving.


Q: Can the publisher hire a local auditor at their own cost?  Should I agree?

A: Yes, but the author must usually agree to the publisher’s selection of an auditor. It is generally better for an author to select his/her own auditor.

Q: Can the publisher prevent me from assigning my own contract to someone else or from arranging someone else to prepare the work?

A: Yes. The publishing contract is for personal services provided by the author. For that reason, textbook publishing agreements are not assignable. Some authors subcontract with other to help write a manuscript. A publisher will usually agree if notified in advance and the terms of the subcontract arrangement are acceptable to it.

Q: Can the publisher rewrite the manuscript without my consent?

A: Not usually. Textbook publishing agreements usually allow the publisher only to make corrections for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Review a proposed contract carefully to ensure it does not allow the publisher to make material changes to the form or meaning of the work.

Q: Can the publisher solely determine the timeline in which a new edition of the work is to be published?

A: Yes. Such publishing decisions are generally retained by the publisher and are unlikely to be conceded during the contract negotiation process.

Q: Can the publisher prevent me from publishing another work on the same subject or contributing/assisting on a competing work?

A: Yes. Most textbook publishing agreements contain a “non-compete” clause.


Q: Can the publisher create derivative versions of my work without my consent?

A: Yes. The right to make derivatives is generally transferred to the publisher in the grant of rights made by the author as part of the publishing agreement.

Q: Can the publisher refuse an audit or refuse to cooperate with an audit?

A: Maybe. Some publishing agreements do not provide for an audit. If there is no reference to an audit, the author should check applicable state laws to confirm the right to request an audit and for how many previous years.

Q: Can the publisher sell or license the rights to other parties to create derivative versions of my entire work without my consent? (including “affiliate” companies owned by the same company)

A: Yes. Most standard textbook publishing agreements contain this provision and a publisher in unlikely to concede this point.

Q: Can the publisher refuse to return publication rights if it does not plan to publish another edition, or keep the work “in print” on a technicality to avoid an out-of-print rights return?

A: Basically, the answer is “no”, but an author sometimes has to prompt a publisher to act if the publisher no longer plans to update or revise the book. Publishers can profitably make books available for much longer than in past years. Inventory can be printed on demand profitably at very low quantities and online delivery can obviate the need for print fulfillment.

Q: What is the difference between copyright and publication rights?

A: Copyright is an indication of who controls the publication rights to the work. Textbook publishing agreements require the author to convey both the copyright and publication rights to the publisher. Some authors negotiate to retain copyright, but the publisher must always receive the publication rights to function. It can complicate legal the defense of infringement if copyright and publication rights are not held by the same party.

Juli Saitz, CPA, is a Senior Managing Director at Ankura Consulting Group. She leads the contract and royalty compliance practice at Ankura and has extensive experience serving clients including several textbook authors as well as multi-national corporation licensors. Her work in this area includes developing and implementing royalty compliance programs and performing audits of licensees around the world. Juli has helped authors and corporate clients recover millions of dollars in asserting their audit rights related to licensed copyrights, trademarks and patents. She is focused on the shift in the publishing industry to electronic content delivery methods and adaptive learning platforms. In addition, Juli has served as a damages expert in matters involving royalty disputes in the publishing industry.

Sean Wakely is Vice President of Product and Editorial at FlatWorld. Sean possesses extensive higher education publishing experience gained by working at Cengage Learning, Thomson Learning, Pearson Education, and Houghton Mifflin’s college division. He’s held positions as a sales representative, college acquisitions editor, professional books editor, editorial manager, and, just prior to founding Academic Author Advisers, was a senior executive for Cengage Learning’s global product planning team and National Geographic Learning group. He is also coauthor of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide.

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If you are in the throes of your dissertation, you probably realize that, other than yourself, your family is most affected by your dissertation, and they most affect your progress. It can be hard for family members to understand what you’re going through and must continue to endure for several years.

A poignant example from one of my dissertation coaching clients: Ava wailed to me, “I get calls daily from my mother, my three sisters, and my two cousins! They all say they’re tired of me not coming to the family events. I had to go to the reunion!”

Like Ava’s relatives, family can start squeezing you.

Trying to compromise, Ava went on the week-long family reunion. She told me she took her Chapter 2, hoping to do some work. That was wishful working. With all the activities, festivities, and late-night gab fests, she barely had time to change clothes. Ava came home more exasperated and behind in her work than ever.

Like many or most of you, Ava was trying to juggle at least two lives. Graduate school is itself a “career,” and she also had a family life (husband and three kids), and profession as an elementary school teacher. She crammed in dissertation time as she could.

To give Ava credit, she did try to inform her relatives early. As she collected research, her printed articles overflowed the den and covered the dining room table in high-rise stacks. Using “one picture is worth” reasoning, she took photos of the two stuffed rooms and sent them to her relatives. But she confessed to me, “The photos didn’t penetrate. Everyone still kept calling.”

Early Intervention

Ava made a mistake. She waited until her relatives noticed her withdrawal, and by then they thought she was avoiding them. The absolute best time to orient family to what awaits you for the next several years is when you first begin the dissertation. Without some advance notice, as Ava’s did, they will feel even more confused, bewildered, and angry.

Whether you’re the first to pursue an advanced degree or one of a long proud line of related PhDs doesn’t seem to make much difference. Family members who haven’t been through it have no idea at all; members who’ve earned the degree may have forgotten what it’s really like and probably minimize their own struggles.

Early intervention is a major strategy, and face-to-face is the absolute best (no emails or texts; Skype if you must). If you feel shaky about informing and inducing your relatives, remember your own sacrifices to get to your doctoral pursuit—you’ve deprived yourself of vacations, time off, activities with your kids, sleep.

Randy, a single father with two children, did it right. He enlisted his family near the beginning. He called his mother, aunt, and sister his “team.” When Randy first started working with me, he said he sat them all down and explained what he would have to do in the next two years (at least). He asked for their support and advice, which they willingly gave. Randy knew that, directly and indirectly, they would help tremendously on his journey. And they did, in practical and emotional ways, taking over many tasks and bolstering him at low points.

Once when Randy was dejected about his slow progress, his sister sent him a miraculously timely and reinvigorating email:

Thinking of you, sweetie. I know we talk a lot, but I also know you’re going through something that none of us has ever gone through—your doctoral program. You work at your job like crazy, you take care of your household and your two kidlets, and you constantly keep at your graduate work. With all of this, you stay positive. It’s got to be difficult for you.

Please, don’t EVER hesitate to call me when you need to release some mental stress or things just get too overwhelming. I’ve ALWAYS got your back!!!

I could have kissed that sister.

Educate Them

As Randy did, educate your relatives. Don’t flinch from telling those nearest and most hysterical that they’re not the only ones who will be sacrificing visiting time, money, moments of satisfaction, and the luxury of trivial arguments. If your family members have earned undergraduate or advanced degrees, rouse their memories of their own travails with term papers, master’s theses, and capstone projects. They may nod in squirming or even empathic recollection. Then pounce: Tell them that the dissertation is at least five times worse.

Sketch out, vividly, the kind of time and attention you need, especially with your many other duties. Ava’s photograph didn’t work, but when you’re face-to-face, you can be dramatic in painting the word pictures and backing them up with evidence—like Edison.

Edison’s mother and brother kept complaining about his absences from the traditional Sunday family dinners. He sat them both down and, in a heart-to-heart, detailed his monstrous dissertation schedule. He had one and a half hours a day to work on his dissertation, that is, if his boss didn’t slap overtime on him. Weekends were out because his wife started to work as a nurse for the tuition he needed while he took care of the two kids, both under eight.

He told his family that with all the research necessary he could write about ten pages a week. That’s twenty weeks, he continued, or five months to get two hundred pages, the average length, and this span was just for the first draft. He then said that, from sending his first chapter to the chair, he took more than the supposed requisite two weeks to return the draft and demanded all kinds of revisions.

After this summary, Edison pulled out the evidence: the chair’s marked-up tracked-change draft, the university rubric, the printed chart in the university dissertation handbook of a typical timeline that spanned two years. His mother and brother sat there, open-mouthed. Message delivered.

Bribe Them

After your ice-water shock to the relatives of the hard facts of your dissertation chase, and their recognition that they won’t see you for at least eighteen months, it’s time to bribe them.

Whatever version of “no pain, no gain” you choose, family members especially should know that something good awaits at the end of all the sacrifices and suffering. These can include your better job, promotions, prestige, more business, new business, time for a partner or child to resume a degree program, more time with the family, and, most importantly, mo’ money. Remind them (and yourself) about all the payoffs.

The other type of bribe is to make promises for the future, AD (after degree). These can be special dates, an extended visit, a vacation together, or offers of help with their special projects.

To show your goodwill and seriousness, offer a bribe for a more immediate time. Geoff promised his wife that after he finished writing up his data collection methods, the very next weekend he’d take her out to their favorite mountaintop restaurant overlooking the majestic river.

Madelyn told her ten-year-old daughter that the minute Mommy completed her proposal PowerPoint, they’d build the birdhouse together the girl was begging for.

Ben signed a crayoned promissory note his six-year-old wrote: “After my Conclusion is done, Betta and I will go to the zoo for a day.”

How to Do It All

A major part of your successful dissertation journey is to reach a balance that works for you between ignoring your family and trying to be superspousepartnerparent. The educational and enticement strategies I suggest have worked for many doctoral candidates (and other academic with major projects), and family members have often been surprisingly cooperative and supportive.

If you ever want to finish, you must take the time to get family on your side. They may never really understand, and they may cooperate grudgingly, but they’ll finally leave you alone to do the work you need to do. And later, much later, they’ll rejoice with you, and tell everyone, as you proudly become a doctor.

© 2019 Noelle Sterne

Adapted from Noelle Sterne, Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping With the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015).For reprinting, please contact Noelle Sterne through her site: www.trustyourlifenow.com

Dissertation coach, nurturer, bolsterer, handholder, and editor; scholarly and mainstream writing consultant; author of writing craft, spiritual, and academic articles; and spiritual and motivational counselor, Noelle Sterne has published over 400 pieces in print and online venues, including Author Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children’s Book Insider, Graduate Schools Magazine, GradShare, InnerSelf, Inspire Me Today, Transformation Magazine, Unity Magazine, Women in Higher Education, Women on Writing, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Noelle has for 30 years helped doctoral candidates wrestle their dissertations to completion (finally). Based on her practice, her Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, September 2015) addresses students’ often overlooked or ignored but crucial nonacademic difficulties that can seriously prolong their agony. See the PowerPoint teaser here. In Noelle`s Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), she draws examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to help readers release regrets and reach lifelong yearnings. Visit Noelle at www.trustyourlifenow.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the Textbook & Academic Authors Association. Read more about TAA guest posts here.

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This week’s collection of articles from around the web is filled with resources and advice that you will want to save for present and future writing projects. It opens with some new books on writing that you might want to add to your personal library and then continues with specific advice on mistakes to avoid, data visualizations, how many references are appropriate, and graphical or video abstracts for your articles. Finally, there are some articles on other important topics including research funding, Plan S, and the need for outside jobs in grad school.

As you move forward on your writing projects this week, we wish you great success. Happy writing!

Some new books on writing

There’s a LOT of books out there on how to do a thesis/dissertation (some of them written by me). I’ve managed to plough through a couple of new books on the subject recently and this post is a compilation of my reviews plus one reader review from Jasmine Jenson at the end.

Don’t make these nine mistakes when you write a journal paper

As a frequent reviewer and journal editor, I’m seeing (and reading) quite a lot of articles. Unfortunately, I am also seeing a number of mistakes that are repeated over and over again – both by experienced authors and novice writers.

About data visualizations: Bar graphs

Simple but powerful, bar graphs are one of the most common charts used to compare categorical data, which are data that can be grouped into categories like race and sex. Bar graphs are also unique in design because they can be displayed horizontally or vertically. Bar graphs are helpful for comparing changes that happen over time, such as years, or comparing differences by category.

Writing a journal article – how many references?

I’ve been asked about how many references go in the literature section of a journal article. A supervisor had offered a view – one reference per sentence is best, perhaps two. But, the person asking me said, they had seen papers with lots more. How many is too many? What is not enough? What to do?

YOUR graphical or video abstracts

Before I’d ever met Dr. Rossi, I created a video abstract of sorts about my book, Qualitative Online Interviews. The title changed for the second, expanded edition, so I thought it would be useful to explain key concepts discussed in the book. By today’s standards it is pretty simple– just narration over slides. Still, it communicated the message, and became the basis for webinars and presentations about online research.

Research funding for casuals

There are serious structural problems in universities worldwide. The number of permanently employed staff is shrinking. The number of precariously employed staff (casual, adjunct, paid by the hour) is increasing. I can’t change that. This situation isn’t getting any better. It gets worse.

Plan S and humanities publishing

This is an article about a 336-year old publishing house, its endeavors in open access (OA) and, of course, about Plan S as the title stipulates. It is also an article about how the last 12 months have changed my perspective on academic publishing.

The need for outside jobs in grad school

Many graduate departments have some kind of rule in place to prevent graduate students from taking on outside work. The reasoning behind it might seem sound enough at first glance — graduate students are supposed to be learning their craft, which means working on a dissertation and teaching. Ideally, they should be free from distractions while they’re doing this.

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If you’ve been published (or simply signed, for that matter) by a US publisher in the last dozen years, there is a fair to excellent chance that the master to whom you are now answering is not the master to whom you indentured yourself when you signed your original publishing contract. Among the larger transactions:

2019 proposed merger of Cengage and McGraw-Hill
2016 Cengage acquisition of WebAssign
Elsevier acquires social science and humanities repository SSRN
2015 Macmillan Higher Ed and Macmillan New Ventures merge to become Macmillan Learning
Bertelsmann Education acquisitions of HotChalk, Relias Learning, and RediLearning
2011 Cengage acquisition of National Geographic School Publishing
2008 Cengage acquisition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt College Division

What Is This Shuffle All About?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. In a few instances, the target is nothing more than an attractive investment and will be left largely alone to continue its profitable ways. More likely, however, the acquisition fits neatly into a void in the acquirer’s list or represents an opportunity to pick up talented and experienced staff, new distribution channels, an expanded (or consolidated) sales force, access to new markets, or market share in key genres or disciplines. And more often than not, the acquirer expects to maintain or grow the revenue stream from its target while at the same time slashing the costs of producing and marketing the list by consolidating back office, sales, and even editorial functions.

In the Cengage-McGraw-Hill merger, for example, as stand-alone companies they were each a distant 2ndand 3rdin size to $8B giant Pearson in the higher ed market in the US. Combined, however, they will be a $5B competitor with 44,000 titles delivered through a variety of digital platforms. This increase in size and reach, coupled with a projected cost savings of $300 million over the next three years will make them much more competitive with Pearson, which appears to be racing downhill to meet them on their way up.

What Does It All Mean for You?

Well you won’t be surprised to learn that it might be a bad thing. When you enter a publishing contract with a publisher, you essentially enter a partnership – you exchange certain rights in the product of your intellectual labors for a contract right to share in the proceeds from the publisher’s commercial exploitation of that work. There are certain obligations that you take on – the obligation to produce a manuscript that is professionally competent and acceptable to the publisher, a manuscript that meets certain, often highly subjective and difficult to measure, requirements. The publisher, on the other hand, takes on the similarly amorphous obligation to provide editorial, pedagogical, and literary direction, support, and design as well as the obligation to market and promote your work. While the contract does memorialize certain expectations, there is much that is left to the good faith and discretion of each party, much that simply can’t be quantified or objectively measured.

Typically, the publisher protects its trust in you by providing in the contract that your obligations are personal and non-assignable – the publisher made its deal with you, because of your special talents, demonstrated skills, and reputation in your field . . . and it will accept no substitutes. But, unless you have extraordinary leverage (or a very naïve publisher), this is a one-way street.

For its part, the publisher generally reserves the right to “sell” your contract, alone or as part of the business, to some other when that other places a higher value on the property to be acquired than it is worth to your publisher. The publisher generally justifies this position as a business necessity, a part of its fiduciary obligation to its owners to maximize the value of the business as a whole by leaving its assets (your contract among them) unencumbered. But there is an inescapable downside for you. As a result of any sale that includes your contract, you may find that the person in whom you placed your trust, your editorial champion, is no longer in charge of your title (or if he/she is, that his/her authority to make decisions that affect you has been eroded or compromised).  This will surely be one of the results from the Cengage-McGraw-Hill merger as a promised $300 million in expense cuts will largely come from staff cuts and consolidations – that’s a lot of salaries, maybe 750 to 1,000 positions to be eliminated.

Thankfully, you are not powerless through this process. There are things that you can do to minimize or ameliorate the downside. And there may, under certain circumstances, even be an upside if you know what to do and when to do it.

The Downside and How to Deal with It

One of the ways to minimize the impact of losing your editor is to reduce the extent to which you must rely on his/her judgment, commitment to you and your title, and personal representations and promises. Fill those gaps in your publishing contract by quantifying what you can, reducing the publisher’s discretion where possible, and memorializing every representation and promise:

  • Nail down the manuscript acceptability clause to an objectively measurable standard
  • Make sure the publisher has to provide you with a reasonable opportunity to revise an unacceptable draft and with concrete direction in revisions
  • Make sure the publisher has to publish within a finite time after the manuscript is complete and acceptable
  • Provide for a kill fee or forfeiture of the advance if the manuscript is rejected for any reason other than your failure to complete it
  • If the work is one that must be periodically revised in order to keep it fresh and current, make sure the publisher has an obligation to revise it on a set schedule
  • Try to quantify the publisher’s marketing and promotion obligations
  • Try to secure a right to approve any change in editors
  • Make sure that rights revert in timely fashion

And while you’re negotiating that contract, bargain for some leverage. Most publishers will give ground here only very reluctantly, but the one sure thing is that you won’t get what you don’t ask for. So try to negotiate for some sort of right to approve any assignment of your contract. (This will help in asset sales and list sales, but not in mergers and stock purchases – “McCengage[1]” is an example – for those, you would need a right to approve any change of control).

Special Considerations in Larger Deals

Under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (“HSR”), proposed transactions with a value of $90 million or more are subject to pre-merger antitrust review. Parties to qualifying transactions must report certain information about the proposed transaction to the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice at least 30 days prior to the proposed closing date. Based on the information provided, either the FTC or the DOJ may make a second request for additional information useful in determining whether the proposed transaction is likely to have an anti-competitive effect. In practice, one agency or the other will take the lead in this investigation, the process will take from several months to a year to complete, and may well end with the parties consenting to a final order that requires divestiture of certain products or lines of business as a condition to approval of the transaction.

In the course of its review, the investigating agency will look at the market on a course-by-course basis, evaluating the relative market concentration in each course where the parties have competing works (the “Overlap Courses”). The agency will use a commonly accepted measure of market concentration in these Overlap Courses called the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (“HHI”). The HHI is calculated as the sum of the squares of each party’s market share. HHIs can theoretically range from zero (a market with infinitely many competitors, each having infinitesimal shares) to 10,000 (a market with a single monopolist with a 100% share). The difference between the pre-merger HHI and the post-merger HHI is the Delta. Mergers that result in highly concentrated markets (HHI over 2,500) with a Delta of more than 200 are presumed to be anticompetitive.

“McCengage” has a projected value of $5B and is, accordingly subject to review. If the FTC/DOJ finds that the merger would have an anticompetitive effect, the parties can be required to divest certain properties before the transaction will be approved. The Cengage-HMH transaction in 2007-2008 was also subject to such review. A number of Overlap Courses were identified, with post-merger HHIs in excess of 3,000 and Deltas in excess of 500. As a consequence, Cengage was required to divest titles in the introduction to business category, French, German and Italian language categories, history category, and college orientation/success category. Some of these went to Wiley, some to Bedford St. Martin, others just disappeared. In Cengage-HMH, this process took about eight months to complete and as a consequence, some authors found themselves transferred to yet other publishers.

Cengage-McGraw-Hill are projecting their antitrust review to take nine to twelve months to complete. If you are the author of one or a series of works of interest to the agency investigators, you may be invited to participate in an interview. You may also volunteer, but the final decision as to whom to interview will be made by the investigating agency.

After the Deal

Once a sale that involves your title is announced or completed, it’s time to do some homework. You need to learn as much as you can about the acquirer:

  • Does the acquirer already publish in your field?
  • How will your title fit into the acquirer’s list?
  • Do the acquirer’s titles complement your title or compete with it?
  • Are they on the same publication/revision cycle?
  • Who handles that list for the acquirer? And to whom does he/she report?
  • Is your title likely to be one divested as a consequence of antitrust review? If so, where is it likely to go?
  • Do you have a termination right under 17 USC §§ 203 or 304 that you might exercise in order to obtain some leverage?

Check the acquirer’s catalog for answers to some of these questions. Check its web site. Ask your editor what he/she knows about the acquirer . . . and its list . . . and its people. Ask your editor what he/she knows about post-acquisition plans for your title and for the list of which it is a part. Ask the same questions of your editor’s boss. Find out who your editor’s counterpart is at the new owner and ask him/her the same questions (see if you get the same answers – reliable information is a scarce commodity in consolidations and often times the respective staffs at acquirer and target are getting very different stories about the post-acquisition plans). Ask the same questions of the counterpart’s boss (again, see if you get the same answers). And finally, always ask the sales reps – ironically, sometimes the best information about what is going on at the home office comes from the sales staff in the field.

What you learn from all of this sleuthing will help you begin to understand how your title is perceived by the acquirer . . . which will tell you whether to work on building your relationship with them, or whether to begin exploring your other options.

Don’t Let the New Owner Take Advantage of You

Understand that, after an acquisition, you may have a new owner, but you don’t have a new contract. When the acquirer buys your title and your publishing contract, it steps into the shoes of your former publisher and takes on not only that publisher’s rights under the contract but also its obligations.

Also understand that some of your expectations of your former publisher are based not on what is in the contract but instead on what has been said and what has been left unsaid between you and your editor. If you lose your editor, you lose this history. So be certain to take some time to reflect on your expectations and take the opportunity to memorialize any unwritten course of conduct, waivers, promises, or representations made by your editor in a status letter to your publisher.

It is entirely likely that the acquirer will have some standard practices that are different from those employed by your former publisher. The acquirer may be somewhat cavalier about unilaterally moving your title into its system, but you don’t have to accept this:

  • Don’t let the acquirer substitute, for its convenience, its contract form for the one you signed with the target
  • Get an explanation of any differences between the two forms, and get independent advice
  • Don’t let them change the royalty reporting or payment schedule
  • Don’t let them change the rates or arrangements on secondary channel/market sales
  • Pay careful attention to how the acquirer handles the allocation of proceeds in connection with custom publications and sales via a digital platform

If you are inclined to request or demand an audit of your past royalty accounting, so it sooner rather than later so that access to the necessary records is not frustrated or delayed by migration of the data to a new platform

If you do elect to accommodate their requests, be sure to negotiate for some concession in return
If your book has been around since the 1980s, you may have a statutory termination right that you can exercise against the acquirer to improve your leverage in these discussions

What About the Upside?

A consolidation is not necessarily all bad news. If your book survives the competition for attention, it is entirely possible that the exposure to a new sales force and new distribution channels will result in a spike in sales, at least in the short term if not for the long term. Sometimes, however, you have to look a little harder to find the silver lining.

It is not uncommon, after the excitement of the deal has subsided, for the new owner to have second thoughts about whether it might have overpaid for the target. If your title is an important part of the revenue line, it will be critically important for the new owner to keep you happy and productive (and they know it). You can sometimes use this incentive as leverage to obtain concessions . . .  provided you know what to ask for and when and how to ask for it.

If, on the other hand, your title is not important to the list, then it’s a drag on their resources and a distraction. If they let it languish, it will waste away. But it’s not in their best interests to allow this to happen. Help them understand this and take the initiative to ask about re-acquiring the rights . . . or about getting consent to shop it around. If you’re able to place your book elsewhere, this will give you a new home, a new champion – someone with a personal stake in the success of your title . . . which just might provide new life and a fresh start for you and for your work.

May 2019 Cengage McGraw-Hill merger announced; the combination will have 44,000 titles and $3.1B in sales and is subject to antitrust review

John Wiley to acquire Knewton, a provider of courseware and adaptive learning technology

March 2019 Rowman & Littlefield acquires McBooks Press, adding to R&Ls list of nautical titles
December 2018 Rowman & Littlefield acquires Hal Leonard trade titles, giving it more than 3,000 books in the performing arts field
September 2018 Kaplan buys educational assets, and name, from Barron’s, including the test prep, study aid, and foreign language assets. Barron’s is retaining its large trade list which will be published under a new name
April 2018 Independent Publishers Group (IPG) has acquired the academic book distributor International Specialized Book Services (ISBS)

In two separate niche deals, LSC Communications bought the university press distributor TriLiteral, while Turner Publishing acquired a publisher that specializes in books on eating disorders

March 2018 HarperCollins has acquired the imprint AMACOM, a division of the American Management Association International, which has a backlist of approximately 600 business and professional titles
October 2017 Baker & Taylor Publishers Services forms distribution group to offer distribution and other functions to children’s, trade, K‐12, higher education and academic publishers
August 2017 Barnes & Noble Education has acquired Student Brands, a direct-to-student subscription-based writing skills service, for $58.5 million
June 2017 Rutgers and Bucknell University Presses have reached a partnership agreement through which Rutgers will do all of the production, marketing, and sales for Bucknell titles
February 2017 B&N Education Buys MBS Textbook Exchange for $174 Millionin another move that consolidates the college retail and wholesale market
January 2017 Pearson, faced with worse-than-expected results in its North American higher education publishing business, puts its 47% stake in Penguin Random House up for sale (yet another in a series of troubling financial signals from the largest publisher in the US college market)
September 2016 Cengage acquires WebAssign
August 2016 John Wiley & Sons acquires Atypon, a publishing-software company, for $120 million in cash. Atypon enables scholarly societies and publishers to deliver, host, enhance, market and manage their content on the web
May 2016 Macmillan acquires Pronoun, Inc., a New York City–based technology company that provides digital book publishing tools, analytics, and services for authors and media companies

Elsevier has acquired the largest repository and community for social science and humanities researchers in the world, SSRN, to accelerate its social strategy and scale the network up for the benefit of “the entire scientific ecosystem”

April 2016 Pearson puts GlobalEnglish Corp, which uses cloud software to teach English to employees of multinational companies, up for sale (a division it bought only 4 years earlier)
November 2015 Bertelsmann acquires a minority interest in HotChalk, which helps non-profit universities and colleges create online graduate degrees and currently supports 33 online degree programs, and RediLearning, a provider of online courses with 400 courses.
October 2015 Macmillan Higher Education and Macmillan New Ventures consolidate as a singular education unit under the new brand, Macmillan Learning
September 2015 Cengage Learning acquires Learning Objects, an ed tech company that provides adaptive online learning programs and courses to higher education institutions
May 2015 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquires the Ed Tech business of Scholastic for $575MM

Springer Science+Business Media and Macmillan Science and Education combine to form Springer Nature

March 2014 CourseSmart, originally founded by a consortium of higher ed publishers in 2007, was acquired by Ingram

[1]With credit for the mashup to Alistair Adam, Co-CEO at Flatworld, who was quick with it in a LinkedIn article on May 2, 2019.

Steve Gillen counsels clients in publishing and entertainment transactions and disputes, internet issues, advertising law, computer law, copyrights, and related matters. His clients have included publishers, authors, artists, photographers, videographers, independent producers, Internet service providers, multimedia developers, and software programmers from Maine to California. He has written and spoken nationally on various publishing and copyright topics and teaches courses in Media Law at the University of Cincinnati. He currently serves as Publication Officer and Chair of the Books Editorial Board of the Intellectual Property Section of the American Bar Association. Earlier in his career, Steve served as in-house counsel for a middle market educational publishing company.

Steve is the author or co-author of three books published by TAA, Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide, Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts, and Guide to Rights Clearance & Permissions in Scholarly, Educational, and Trade Publishing. Learn more or order

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