Friday, May 30, 2014

Author Areas for Major Health Care Educational Publishers

If you're looking for a publisher for your textbook, you're in the right place. Like all my counterparts here at F.A. Davis I receive book proposals frequently throughout the year, some of which I accept and some of which I reject. For those I reject I try to help the individuals find the right publisher.

To do that I recommend that they visit the author page for the major publishers. Nearly all publishers post detailed guidelines on their websites.

Here are author pages for the more prominent health care educational publishers (links will open in new window):

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When It Comes to Contributors, Who's the Boss?

Well, maybe not that cranky.
What happens when an author the publisher is the "boss" over a contributor?

I'll tell you what. The publisher gets cranky.

Let's say you're authoring a book on, say, data management in hospitals. You feel fully confident in writing pretty much every chapter, but you feel less sure about the content in two of those chapters. So you decide to have someone else write those chapters for you.

That person would be a contributor, and their chapters (yes, I wrote "their" instead of "his or hers" or some other dastardly construct) would become part of your book, part of your intellectual material. Contributors are usually compensated for their contribution to the book, but are usually not part of the royalty structure.

In essence, the author hires the contributor to do some work -- in this case, to write two chapters -- and pays the person for that work. The author, then, is the "boss." The budget master. The decider.

This role can seem to conflict with the author's relationship with the publisher, in which the publisher is the boss, so to speak. When that happens, the author may turn to the publisher to do things he should be doing himself. (See how I switched gender up, there?)

Yeah, that's not good.

When you're the author, you are responsible for:

  • Finding the contributor
  • Telling the contributor exactly what you want done
  • Negotiating with the contributor what he will be paid for each piece of work
  • Reviewing the contributor's work
  • Sending the work back to the contributor if it isn't what you wanted, and then working with the contributor to provide the correct content
  • Performing a final review of the work to make sure it's exactly what you want
  • Letting the publisher know exactly what you've asked the contributor for, what they supplied, and how much the publisher should pay, assuming the payments will come out of the author's royalties, the typical scenario

The publisher is generally, but not always, responsible for:

  • Developing a contributor agreement based on specific information supplied by you, the author
  • Sending the agreement for signatures, electronic or otherwise
  • Securely storing the executed agreement
  • Paying the fee for the contribution, usually when the book publishes, sometimes before

So don't ask the publisher to tell you what you should pay to a contributor. Don't ask the publisher, "Can you take care of paying Such And So for doing those chapters?" Don't assume the publisher will play a boss-like role in that author-contributor relationship, because that will make them cranky. (Whoops, went back to plural, there.)

Happy, good.

Cranky, baaaad.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

'Many Happy Mediums' and Other Reasons Not to Write the Way You Speak

You've probably heard the adage, "Write the way you speak."

Please don't.

I'm all for writing clearly and simply, and mostly we speak that way. Too often, though, we just write what comes into our head and then expect the reader to grasp our meaning.

To wit. This sentence came across our desk recently from an inexperienced author:

“Being an office manager is very challenging since there are many happy mediums that must be mastered in terms of rapport, respect, and continual growth and improvement of patient care and finances.”

Putting aside the bland and overused very and the incorrect use of since (since deals with time; the correct word would be because), let's focus on that "many happy mediums" part.

I sort of know what the author means, and I think if I heard her say it, I would probably nod in agreement.

When that sentence is written, though, all that clarity disappears. What this particular author tried to do was to put too much information into one sentence, and she ended up with a sentence so muddy the reader can't hardly figure out what it means. For instance, how does rapport relate to continued growth in the practice's revenue? And where are all these happy mediums of which you speak?

It's okay to write the way you speak initially, but then read what you've written and look for unclear phrases, like "there are many happy mediums."

Unless, of course, you actually want a several smiling clairvoyants, in which case, go for it!