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Successfully Publishing New Technology-Level Text Materials

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Issues in Engineering Technology Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1112.1 - 23.1112.26



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Paper Authors


Christopher R Conty Editor On Behalf of You

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Acquiring, developing & promoting technical textbooks & references -- hard copy & digital/ other media -- since 1974; previously for Charles E. Merrill (now Pearson), Delmar & West (both now Cengage), Elsevier, McGraw-Hill Career Education & Industrial Press.

Current role is as free-lance (independent) editor, placing would-be authors with 2 commercial academic publishers primarily. For Industrial Press, I acquire technology-level full length textbooks & help authors increase their odds of success by offering "pre-signing" development -- for which no fee is charged to the author, as publisher pays the fee. For Momentum Press, I recruit academic Collection Editors in Mfg. Processes, Mechanical, Industrial, Instrumentation, Design & Graphics Engineering; then collaborate with these CE's to develop their Collections by seeking academic author "experts" to write short (150-page) applied focused titles within larger subject areas -- Collections overall are for engineering libraries; individual titles in both digital & paperback formats are for advanced Engr. & Engr. Tech student purchase (via adoption or single copy) for research & course study.

Have set foot on over 1200 college campuses on 3 continents. Currently reside in Boston area. First joined ASEE in 1980; Psychology BA from Yale; expertise is academic publishing, not academia.

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Successfully Publishing New Technology-Level Text Materials – Electronic & Print – in an Era of Publishers Not Signing & Professors Not Adopting Technology-Specific TitlesTechnology-level instructors have long had few if any textbooks & other teaching materials atthe appropriate level for their students (vs. engineering & technicians, especially for courses atthe sophomore/ junior-level or above, except in a few select courses – even then, one bookusually dominates, & no recently published alternative is available. Thus tech-level instructorsoften reluctantly adopt an engineering-level text with too few applications. Strangely, technician-level courses often also offer more text choices, but these can’t be adopted by an ABET program.Technology-level instructors are no less capable or willing to write a text than their engineering-level counterparts, nor are they any more discouraged from writing a text vs. focusing instead onpromotion, tenure, or other institutional & professional opportunities. Instead, the issue is thatfew if any new mid-to-upper-level technology-level textbooks are being signed by the largertraditional text publishers; instead, most publishers have ceased publishing entirely at this level,and those few remaining are almost exclusively focusing on revising those rare titles that sellwell enough to justify maintaining them; they’re not taking on new projects. The gradual shift toelectronic delivery of texts (as an alternative to print) is actually not a significant factor for this.This paper: (1) explores the reasons for this tech-level text dearth; (2) offers practical remedies. (1) Lists changes in the textbook publishing environment & in enrollments at individual ABET-accredited ET school programs that led to traditional textbook publishers not undertaking (signing & publishing) new mid-to-upper level tech-level text projects. (2) Lists steps (a) Technology-level textbook instructors could take in adoption decisions, & (b) would-be authors could take in preparing text proposals – to greatly increase the odds that new appropriately applied text materials would be signed by a commercial publisher, & then become successful – with “success” defined as getting published, being promoted effectively, & selling well enough that the publisher asks the author to revise it every few years (vs. being released prior to publication, buried [under-developed & under- promoted], put out of print, or reprinted but not revised.Three caveats: (a) This paper’s author’s experience is tech-level publishing (not teaching) & theauthor could benefit personally if more tech-level texts are signed & published, (b) financialreward for success (as defined) would almost exclusively benefit the academic author (while thispaper’s author’s #1 benefit for an author’s success would be reinforcing of reputation,); (c) mostfirst-time would-be commercial authors are not signed, & most signed are unsuccessful (notrevised). So while this paper’s author/ editor’s history suggests a possibility of doubling thoseodds for a text author who follows the paper’s author’s suggestions, no guarantee is made that:these odds from the past will continue in the future; that any given author will enjoy success.

Conty, C. R. (2013, June), Successfully Publishing New Technology-Level Text Materials Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22497

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