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  • What Is a Textbook Writer and How to Become One

how to become a textbook writer

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What does a textbook writer do, how to become a textbook writer.

A textbook writer develops textbooks to educate students according to the specifications of their publisher. As a textbook writer, your typical duties are to write a book outline to gain approval from the publisher, develop the content for the book, and add a lesson or review questions at the end of the chapters, depending on the subject and type of textbook. Other responsibilities may include creating textbooks for a school or academic institution, updating existing books for schools and publishers to reprint, developing learning guides for students to use along with the primary manual, adapting books to other formats, such as ebooks, and ensuring the accuracy of information.

The specific qualifications to become a textbook writer vary depending on the subject matter and type of textbook. Publishers typically require expertise in the subject you are writing about. For example, you usually need at least a master’s degree in biology to write textbooks for high school biology classes. However, if you are writing books for preschool students, a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education may be sufficient. Along with excellent writing ability, strong research skills and critical thinking to discern false information are important. Proficiency with computer software and word processing programs like Microsoft Word are also helpful for this career.

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What is a Textbook Writer?

Do you like to write? Are you passionate about a certain subject? Have you had teaching experience? Do you like to research? If you answered yes to most of these questions, you might want to find out more about a career as a textbook writer.

The Textbook Publishing Market

Textbook publishing is a dynamic field that’s currently experiencing radical changes., according to University Business . For years several companies dominated the market and controlled prices so students might need to spend up to $1000 in books for a single semester. Factors such as rising student loan debt, poor economic conditions and even government intervention began to break the hold the publishers had on the market. Enter a mushrooming open resource movement comprised of learning packets, e-books and other innovative learning materials that are free or very inexpensive.

What Does a Textbook Writer Do?

The tasks and responsibilities of textbook writing vary between and within subjects. Traditional textbooks require a systematic approach starting with an outline that the publisher will probably want to approve first. With the outline in hand comes the research and writing. Again, the publisher will want to review the work in phases as it is produced. The type of writing depends on the audience, topic and medium. Traditional textbooks are reference resources that contain mostly content, but for write e-books and learning guide packets, the writing is lighter. Since open educational resources are replacing traditional media, another opportunity exists which is to compile materials in different forms and formats.

What Background Does a Textbook Writer Need?

The number one requirement necessary for textbook writing is excellent writing skills. Writers who want to write for all ages and grade levels need to be able to flex writing styles accordingly. But for those who would rather focus on a single age/grade level, then the writing style must be consistent, such as writing college textbooks. A teaching background is important, though not always an absolute necessity.

Why Write Textbooks?

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/a-textbook-case-for-writing-one/310670.article As with anything, there are good and bad reasons for writing textbooks. High on the positive side is the professional recognition that comes with crafting a respected book. If you are already a teacher, it might help cement your position on the faculty, or help you achieve tenure in higher education. Writing also gives you the chance to research and explore something that interests you, and plus, you become an expert, according to Times Higher Education . One reason not to write textbooks is to make money. The amount of time put in versus the compensation will not make you rich.

How Does a Textbook Writer Find Work?

How you find works depends on experience and background, but generally you need to have a well-thought out idea developed into a dynamite proposal. Current teachers may already have relationships with textbook publisher reps who can help writers get in contact the appropriate editors. For those that don’t, it’s easy to find the appropriate editors with a little Internet research.

Related Resource: Educational Consultant

Finally, a textbook writer is someone who has passion for writing, research and the topic at hand. As an adjunct to existing work, it is rewarding and often, the high point of a career for writers and educators.

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Writing a textbook – Advice for authors

What is a textbook.

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Why write a textbook?

There can be several reasons why a textbook gets written:

You should carry out market research to ensure there is an audience for your textbook and to help you understand what the competing textbooks would be:

Have a vision for the textbook! Before you begin writing a proposal for a textbook or approaching a publisher, you should have a clear idea in your mind about what the textbook will be:

There are a few final points to consider before you start writing, or to bear in mind as you are writing. 

Important downloads  (manuscript guidelines and SEO tips)

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how to become a textbook writer

Textbook Writer


Write educational articles and quizzes to help students learn.

What does a Textbook Writer do?

Textbook writers work with publishers to write either parts of or an entire textbook on a specific subject such as English, math, science, or history. When a publisher wants to create a textbook in your area of expertise, a textbook editor hires you to create the content for it. Typically textbook writers are also teachers and as such are familiar with standard curricula in that subject as well as areas where students struggle.

In order to be a textbook writer, you do several tasks. Perhaps the most important is research. If you’re writing a textbook about the presidents of the United States, for instance, you might have to read biographies, travel to museums and interview presidential scholars before putting pen to paper.

Next comes writing, which requires you to relay your research without plagiarizing it. You have to organize your information into chapters and sections, then communicate it clearly and at the right reading level for your audience, be they fourth-graders or college freshmen.

Of course, you also have to cite all your sources, since most textbooks include footnotes and bibliographies. In that sense, it’s like you’re being paid to write book reports—albeit really, really long ones.

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IWTL how to get a job writing textbooks

how to become a textbook writer

I really have a nack for writing clear instructions and also for teaching. I also really like to learn new things and am better than decent (maybe like 80th percentile) at research so it seems like writing text books would be playing towards all of my strengths. I'd love to be a teacher too, but that's a huge commitment and I'm looking for other possibilities.

Background: I am currently a Chemistry major, History minor at a liberal arts school I'm a junior and my schedules almost completely full for next year. Kind of want to avoid being a full time student for a few years (though any recommendations for classes that I can take at a community college would be welcome)

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Acquisitions Editor at an academic publishing house here. I don't work on books in your area, but all of the big academic publishers will accept and are actively looking for book proposals ALL of the time.

The catch is that we're looking for people who are accomplished and active in their areas -so it's not like you can graduate and just get a full time job writing textbooks. We usually start by approaching the author(s) of an interesting journal article or someone who is teaching and doing notable research.

So in my experience, writing textbooks is more of a part time job for academics than a primary occupation.

writing textbooks is more of a part time job for academics than a primary occupation.

As an academic with many friends who are textbook authors (some with editions numbering into the teens) I can confirm this. Further, in many fields faculty will select a textbook based on the authors, at least to some extent; I look for books by scholars I respect and who share my own approach to methods, so would probably never order a textbook from some anonymous person with a BA knowingly.

I have an unanswered question that you may be able to help with. Roughly, could I go through several different textbooks with some amount of information on a topic, compile that information and publish the compiled work?

Exchanging 13 upvotes to doge. --> + /u/dogetipbot 13 doge (courtesy of SuchMiner )

How do I go about collecting my ^^doge?

I'm no expert, but every text book I've used for my chemistry degree was written by an academic. If you're burned out from studying by the end of your degree, you probably don't want to aim for academia.

If you are looking to teach and write out work, do private tutoring or a teaching degree. Chemistry and physics teachers are usually the most sort after (at least in my country), the pay is decent and you get to write out lesson plans and teach science.

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Professor Jack C. Richards

How do textbooks get developed.

submitted by Dino Mahoney, London

Could you explain how textbooks get developed?

Dr Richards Responds:

Most textbooks are written by experienced teachers in co-operation with editors and consultants who guide the writers through the process of textbook development. Teachers interested in writing textbooks are sometimes under the impression that they should first write the book and then submit it to a publisher. This may happen with authors of novels but rarely happens with educational materials.  In publishing English language teaching materials, particularly those intended for a large market, the following processes are usually involved:

Once a commitment is made to publish the book, the writers work with editors from the publishing company to develop the concept for the book project in more detail. Questions such as the following will be addressed at this stage:

As the answers to these questions are clarified the writer or writers will now be in a position to develop a proposal for the book or book series, a preliminary syllabus and unit format for the book and to develop some sample units. The publisher then arranges to have the sample materials reviewed by a large number of people both internally (i.e. editors) and externally (teaches and consultants). Often teachers will be brought together in focus groups to review the materials and often to try it out with their students. This review process may go on several times as different samples are drafted until the specifications for the book have been finalized. Only at this stage can writing begin in earnest. A writing schedule is developed so that the publisher can plan for the different stages in editing, design, and manufacturing that are involved in publishing a book. Development stages : writing a book involves a number of stages of development. Typical stages include:

Once the manuscript is submitted it will be assigned to editors who will work closely with the author(s) in fine tuning the materials. The content of the book will be carefully examined to ensure that issues such as the following are addressed:

A considerable amount of revision and fine-tuning may happen during this period as the manuscript is further developed to the publisher’s standards and specifications. If the book includes art such as illustrations and photographs, decisions about these will have to be made at this stage and specially commissioned. Design : design issues refer to the overall design and organization of the book from cover to cover and the layout of text and art in each page. An effective design is a major factor in the publication of textbooks and a successful design makes the book both appealing to teachers and students and also makes the book easier to use.

The activities described above can take a considerable amount of time to carry out before the book is published – in some cases as many as five years or longer for a major multi-level textbook series. The book is then promoted to teachers and schools and both authors and publishers hope that it will be well received and justify the investment of time and money that was involved in publishing the book or book series.

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