Sunday, December 23, 2012

3 Main Goals for One Health Care Publisher in 2013

We publisher-types examine our goals every year, setting a course for signings, markets, research, and so forth. Those goals are, of course, private, and you won't learn about them here.

But we also set our own personal goals for working with authors, sales reps, developmental teams, and other in-house departments. Mostly we don't talk much about these, but here on the cusp of 2013, I thought I would lay out a few of my goals for 2013.

  1. Get out of the office more. I enjoy traveling around to schools and talking with faculty about their needs. That's one of the most enjoyable responsibilities I have. The last couple of years, though, I haven't been able to get out as much as I would have liked. So this year, watch out, I'm-a coming at ya!
  2. Stay true to my authors. I always try to stay true to my authors. To me that means being honest with them about all aspects of their books and advocating for their vision throughout the process. When I stay true to my authors, I automatically stay true to my company.
  3. Methusela
  4. Learn more, teach less. I must admit, I do get a little preachy sometimes. Too often I talk when I should listen. I'm going to work on that this year. Even with me being, as my mother would say, as old as Methusela, I can always learn something.
So, tell this Methusela Man, what are your goals for the new year?

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Most Popular Blogs of 2012

Here's my annual countdown of most popular blog posts of the year. Granted, I use the word "most popular" rather loosely, counting my blog readers in the hundreds rather than the millions, like, you know, Justin Timberlake and such.


#10  Why Textbook Authors Should Also Be Textbook Marketers

Yes, if you want to write a textbook, you'd better prepare for the marketing aspect of the business.

#9  The Six Content Categories for the Holy Grail of E-Textbook Publishing

The second of a pair of posts on what I call the holy grail of publishing: a true e-book.

#8  The Holy Grail of E-Textbook Publishing

The first of that pair of posts.

#7  So This Is What 60 Looks Like?

Who'da thunk this silly little post would finish so high on the list? Not I, said the old man.

#6  Mary Kinn

A post about the inestimable Mary Kinn.

#5  Guest Post: To Post Or Not To Post

This guest post is the first to make it to the Best Of list and is from Allison Morris at OnlineClasses.Org.

#4  8 Tips for Fitting Social Media into Your Already Busy Day

Three of the top four posts deal with social media. Here's the fist one.

#3  5 Tips for Health Care Professionals Using Google+

The Google+ tips finished just behind the tips for Facebook.

And the number 1 most popular post of 2012...

10 Characteristics of a Successful Textbook Author

Ah, yes, the ol' have you got what it takes to write a textbook post. Gotta love it.

Happy holidays, one and all!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Understanding the Acceptability Paragraphi in a Publishing Contract

Authors who have signed a contract with a health care educational publisher have no doubt come across a paragraph that says that the publisher won't publish the book unless it finds the author's manuscript "acceptable."

The paragraph also comes with a date by which the author must present the "acceptable" manuscript. If the author hasn't presented the manuscript by then, a publisher may cancel the contract and try to recoup its losses.

That can be one scary paragraph.

"What if my book isn't good enough?"

"What if I didn't do exactly what they wanted?"

"What if I don't get the book to them in time?"

Seldom used

First, take a deep breath. Publishers seldom invoke that paragraph, and when we do it's typically because we received a truly lousy manuscript despite all the work a developmental editor surely would have done by then.

We want authors to succeed, because when they succeed, we succeed. So we'll work with a manuscript as much as we can to ensure success.

Sometimes, though, nothing we do can salvage the manuscript. In those instances, yes, we'll invoke the acceptability clause. But we don't like doing it.

In more a decade at F.A. Davis I've invoked that clause exactly twice.Most of us publisher-types have, I think, invoked that part of their own contracts at about the same rate.

Seldom abused

That paragraph is also seldom abused by authors. Well, the acceptability part of the paragraph anyway. But we find that many, many authors don't meet their manuscript deadline. Many.



Copious numbers.

Did I say "many"?

See, we're accustomed to authors who, for one reason or another, find themselves unable to deliver a manuscript by the date on the contract, even when we think we've provided more than enough time. We understand why that happens..

We don't like it, but we understand it, and we work with it.

To a point.

So, where's that point?

That point varies with each publisher and with each product. Some of us are more forgiving than others, and some products are under less pressure to publish than others.

Example: We published a book a year or so ago a full ten years after the contract was signed. The only reason we allowed it to go on was that, for that particular book and that particular market, the author under contract was the best person to write it and the book was still sorely needed by the market.

That's an exception, though, and certainly not the rule. I would say that, on the whole, regardless of the publisher, if you haven't been able to finish your book within, at the outside, four years of signing your contract, you probably won't be publishing a book.

By the way...

I should mention that the publisher is and must be the sole arbiter of what makes for an acceptable manuscript. The author certainly can't do it, so who else can? Who else should?

Right. No one, just the publisher.

Now, about that paragraph...

The gist of that whole acceptability paragraph are these two points:
  1. Your publisher will most likely do everything in its power to help you develop an acceptable manuscript. So work with your editors, learn from them, and grow. That's what we want to see, growth. We want authors who can succeed, and we'll work to help them get there.
  2. Don't dilly-dally. Your publisher has only so much patience, and then...bye-bye.