To be successful, a textbook should be clear,
accurate, and interesting. It also must be
published in a timely manner, with as few
corrections or revisions as possible during
the production process. To that end, the manuscript
must be planned, prepared, and handled according
to professional standards. This Guide will
provide you with the information you need
to plan your work in advance, to create your
manuscript as efficiently as possible, and
to provide finished manuscript and disks for
production of the finished text. This Guide
is intended to be a practical help to authors
new to textbook writing, as well as a useful
reference for experienced authors who may
wish to check on methods of dealing with special
Over the past few years, the technology of textbook production has advanced considerably. Your manuscript must be captured in electronic form to streamline and economize the production path. This Guide provides important information about how to prepare your electronic files.
Important points to consider at the planning stages of a manuscript are the audience for whom you are writing; writing style; making sure your manuscript is as up-to-date as possible; controlling the length of your manuscript; setting up your research, illustration, and permissions files in an efficient manner; and planning your supplements, if applicable.
KEEPING YOUR TEXT UP-TO-DATE
Keep in mind that your text will not arrive in a student's hands for perhaps a year or more after you have turned in the final manuscript, while you should use the most up-to-date references available, you should also try to avoid dating your text in obvious ways. Put yourself in the place of a reader looking through the book three years after its publication. Have government references become obsolete because of an intervening election? Is supposedly current information now useless? The following is a list of suggestions that will we feel will be useful to avoid dating a text:
- Keep tabular and statistical material that refers to specific years to a minimum.
Try to state the conclusions derived from tabular matter without actually presenting the tables. Present statistics for the current year in the same way you would present statistics for any other previous year. Use the past tense to cite statistics for the current year to date.
- Avoid use of names coupled with titles or offices that are likely to change.
For instance, instead of saying "George Schultz, Secretary of State " say "George Schultz, Secretary of State during Ronald Reagan's second term."
- Avoid use of current events, with only passing interest and little significance, for illustrative purposes.
For instance, describing in the present tense an event in a political campaign will soon date the book. If you must describe such an event, use the past tense. Never write, "During the current campaign..." or "In the present campaign..."
- An event that is important enough to be remembered for several years should not be avoided.
For example, you could refer to, "Anita Hill's testimony during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas," or, "During the Gulf War. . ."
- Avoid use of tax or legal information in which precise figures or procedures are stated.
Remember that specific laws or tax procedures may change. (This suggestion does not apply if it is crucial to your text to explain the specifics of tax or legal issues, however.)
- The time element should not be injected into history.
For example, the statement "Recently many members of Congress have switched to support a balanced budget amendment." should be rephrased as, "By 1993, many members of Congress had switched to support a balanced budget amendment. Another example: "Although World War II ended x years ago..." should be rephrased as "Although World War II ended in 1945..."
Length and accurate estimation of length is a CRUCIAL issue in book production. A text that is longer than the marketplace requires has compromised its chances of selling well. Also, a lengthy text entails the added costs of additional editing, typesetting, paper, presswork, and binding material. It may prove impossible to produce the book at a price that we feel the market will find acceptable.
Your contract will specify a length in number of words; this length should be discussed by you and your editor at the time of signing the contract. The contract may refer to "words or their equivalent," which means illustrative material. The number of words indicated on your contract also includes front matter, such as the preface and contents, and end matter, such as a glossary and an index. It is important to keep this total length in mind as you plan your text, and please remember to check your text length periodically.
If you turn in a manuscript that is longer than is specified in your contract, we will have to ask you to cut the manuscript. The extra time required to make cuts could result in a late bound book, which will also affect your sales. Therefore, it is to your direct advantage to turn in a manuscript that accurately reflects the length called for in your contract. The following is a list of suggestions that we feel will help you to control the length of your manuscript:
- Make an outline of the projected contents of the book.
This outline should include front and end matter. Then, assign a length to each chapter or part. If any section is over (or under) the limit you have set, shorten (or lengthen) what you have already written or cut (or add) some later section. If neither task seems possible, discuss the matter with your editor.
- Do a length estimate.
To estimate length, count the number of words on your average page of manuscript, and multiply by the number of pages (including parts of pages); be sure to include the amount of space your planned figures or other illustrations will require. (Your word processor should give an accurate word count.)
SOURCES OF MATERIALS
As part of planning your manuscript, you should consider how you will organize your research materials, illustrations, and permissions. For convenience we will call all of these different types of material your "source" files. In other words, if you are writing a business case that is based on an article or articles, you should save copies of the article or articles, with the sources clearly marked (e.g. Will V. Strunk, "Losers Are Rampant at GM," The Wall Street Journal, March 22, 1993, page 2 column 1). If you are citing someone else's research report or journal article, keep a copy of the report or journal article in your files, again with the source clearly indicated, such as Lorna White, "Indications of Neurosis," March 1, 1993 Journal of Social Psychology, page 3. Then, if you are later asked for additional information about some aspect of the case by your editor or copyeditor, you will have it on hand. Also, these source files will be used when you request permission to use or quote from a specific article or source.
You should keep files of possible illustrations
you would like to include in your text. See
Art and Photo Specifications
for more information on Illustration Development.
You should keep the original copy of the illustration
in your files, and turn that in with the manuscript;
our production department needs to receive
the original illustration, not a Xerox copy,
when you turn in your completed manuscript.
Again, you will use these files to request
permission to include illustrations or tables
in your text.
Obtaining permission is imperative to the
publication of your text. Remember that you
could be held legally liable for infringing
on someone else's copyright if you don't obtain
permission when permission is required. Permissions
are your responsibility under Paragraph D
of the contract (unless you and your editor
have agreed otherwise); you are responsible
for both acquiring the permissions and paying
the permission costs. Please see Permissions
for further detail regarding obtaining permissions.
FROM TITLE PAGE TO INDEX: AN OVERVIEW
When planning your text, consider the various components necessary for the final book. Customarily, nonfiction works in their printed format are divided into three major divisions: (1) material preceding the text, usually called front matter and given Roman numbering; (2) the text itself, starting on page 1 (including tables, illustrations, chapter bibliographies, footnotes, etc.); and (3) end matter or back matter, which includes such items as appendices, answers, glossaries, and the index.
Naturally, you will not be able to complete the front matter until
the manuscript itself is finished, for it is
important that the final version correspond
to the final manuscript exactly and that it
reflect the best points in the text. The Editorial,
Marketing, and Sales Departments use the front
matter, along with the Author's Suggestion Form
as a basis for their planning (see Marketing
& Sales for more information.) You will,
however, be able to prepare a proposed table
of contents early in the writing process.
- Title Page.
The manuscript title page should include your suggestion for the title, plus any subtitle, your name, exactly as you wish it to appear in print, and your academic or professional affiliations.
- Dedication (optional).
- Table of Contents.
A mere listing of chapter titles is generally not desirable for most books - a detailed table of contents is needed for advertising and publicity. Your final hard manuscript should print out the table of contents in double spaced format. Most word processing programs have a feature that allows you to create a table of contents automatically, with a specified number of heading levels.
- List of Illustrations and List of Tables.
These should be included, even if you do not intend them to be printed. They are essential tools in the copyediting process.
- Foreword and Preface (including acknowledgments).
When both foreword and preface are included, it is customary for someone other than the author to write the foreword, while the author writes the preface. When only one such item is included, the author may choose to call it preface or foreword according to preference. The preface is one of the key selling tools for the book. The preface should list features of the text and describe any supplementary materials. Reviewers are usually acknowledged in the preface. Three to five manuscript pages should be the maximum length. The preface should explain the points of most interest to the reader rather than give a history of the book. Sometimes a book written as a text has a wider appeal. Try not to limit the book's potential sales by addressing the preface solely to "the student" or to one type of audience, and do not refer to the book as "the text" or "this textbook." Such references may deter the general public from buying it. Merely say, "this book."
- List of Contributors (in a book of readings).
The text includes the main body of the book. You should supply all the material planned for inclusion in the text at the time you submit your manuscript to your editor.
- A. Elements of the Text
- Part titles, and any introductory material that is considered part of the text rather than the front matter.
- Chapter objectives and outlines
- Tables. A table may be the best or only way to present certain material, but tabular material has drawbacks. It is expensive to set; the reader may skip it because it looks complicated; and it may date more quickly than the rest of the book.
- Figures with their captions. Drawings and photographs have the same advantages and disadvantages in the publishing process as has tabular material. Except for books where visual appeal is important, pictures with no real function or relation to the text should be dropped. Poor quality photographs should be avoided at all times. Discuss with your editor, at the planning stages, whether your book would benefit from illustrations and, if so, what type they should be.
- Student pedagogy. Discuss with your editor whether or not pedagogical items such as questions, problems, and exercises will be necessary. If they are included, they should be planned as carefully as the main text itself, for an instructor often judges a book by the quality of its teaching aids. Questions or problems are usually grouped after each chapter. If answers or solutions are to be provided, please consult your editor about whether it would be better to put them in an appendix or to publish them separately.
- Chapter bibliographies.
You should supply us with all the end matter, except the index
material, with your final manuscript. (See Procedure
for Indexing for more information.)
Appendices are the appropriate place for
important supplementary material (tables,
charts, documents, forms) that would interrupt
the text or that must be referred to frequently
while reading different chapters.
A glossary is sometimes the best solution
to the problem of explaining technical terms.
Brief, precise definitions arranged in alphabetical
order allow the author to use exact language
in discussing a technical subject without
stopping to define each term. They also
enable the reader to refer to a definition
easily and quickly without turning back
through the text.
The index cannot be made, or at least completed,
until the page proofs are ready. (See Procedure
for Indexing for more information.)