Cognella Startup Kit – Page 3

Preparing to Write Your Textbook

Before you begin writing, consider the goals you’d like to accomplish in publishing a textbook. Are you filling a gap in the current market? Presenting novel research and viewpoints within your field? Creating a text that will complement an innovative teaching style?

Once you’ve identified your goal, consider how that goal will influence the structure, tone, and content of your  textbook.

We encourage authors to create innovative textbooks that exemplify their vision better than any other product on the market. Our team members will provide editorial expertise and guidance to help you transform your ideas into a compelling and effective text.

Here are a few tips to help you build a solid foundation for your textbook:

  • Before you write a single word, strategically plan out the organization of your text. A well-organized book allows readers to maintain a holistic perspective of the subject matter. It also helps them digest the content of the text in a meaningful way. Accordingly, be sure to group sections, chapters, and readings thematically and chronologically. As you work out the structure of your book, carefully consider how each feature of the text will contribute to the overall reading experience.
  • Ensure the topics addressed within your text are compelling, thought-provoking, and supportive of a unique learning experience. Balancing contemporary with classical scholarship, liberal with conservative viewpoints, and academic with popular perspectives is an effective way to both engage readers and make your book stand out in the market.
  • Select third-party content, including images, readings, and excerpts, from a variety of publishers and sources to offer comprehensive and diverse coverage of the subject matter.
  • If your text will include readings, contextualize those readings with thoughtful introductions and transitional passages. With a little additional information, students will better understand why specific readings were chosen for the book. Contextual clues can help to reinforce learning objectives as well.
  • Select images to include within your text carefully. The ultimate goal of any image within your book should be to enhance understanding or provide additional insight on a topic, not to fill up space. If you’d like to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your text, include timelines, charts, graphs, pull quotes, or other visual elements that elevate your subject matter. (Be sure to use a citation if these materials come from third-party sources. Any third-party materials may require a licensing fee to reprint.)
  • Envision how to make your book a key resource that contributes to student success in the classroom. Ensure the content will keep students engaged. Consider adding pedagogical elements that speak to classroom environment, the subject matter, and how students can easily and effectively learn a particular subject. Consider including discussion questions at the end of sections or chapters to help stimulate in-class conversation and inspire adoption among professors in your discipline. Ultimately, you want your textbook to serve as a required primary or supplementary textbook for a course, so create something that is both valuable to the learning experience and critical for students to possess in order to grasp course material and succeed in a course.
  • Develop instructor and student resources that complement your book and reinforce learning objectives. Materials to consider include PowerPoint decks, a solutions manual, test banks, discussion questions, and more. If you’re interested in developing dynamic online activities to better engage students, complement various learning styles, and take your students’ educational experiences to the next level, ask your editor about Cognella Active Learning.
  • If you plan to draft your manuscript using special software such as LaTeX, or you plan to use third-party software to create figures, graphs, or other elements that will be included in your book, be sure to let your editor know early on. Certain software providers place stipulations on the use of content created using their platform in commercially available works, so our licensing team may need to look into this for us.
  • Back up your work as you go! Make sure your manuscript files are saved in multiple places (additional computers, external hard drives, flash drives, cloud storage, etc.) so unpredictable technical difficulties don’t send you back to square one.