Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Look at the Cover of "Comunidades: más allá del aula"

This is my first look at the cover for the textbook. It looks so simple, yet striking. Of course, that's just my opinion! :)

You can see details about the book here, and it will be available by August 15.

I know that there are a lot of people who develop innovative courses and great teaching materials. Here are some things that I have learned along the way that might be helpful to others who are writing a textbook or want to.

1. Inform yourself. Talk to other people who have written textbooks, if possible. See if you can do some work-for-hire for a publishing company, just so that you see the kind of work it takes--and if you're cut out for it.

2. Know your market. In order to get a contract you have to write a proposal. Even if your idea is great, if there aren't enough instructors who will buy it, then it won't get published. Remember, that doesn't mean that you don't have a great idea. It just means that not enough Spanish programs can adopt it in their course offerings.

3. Don't confuse the intro market with the intermediate/advanced market. Intro textbooks have a lot of resources poured into them because thousands and thousands of students will buy them. That's not the case for a book like Comunidades. That's not a problem, unless you are expecting something that you're not going to find.

4. Don't do it for the money. Whenever I tell someone that I have written a textbook, the very first thing they say is, "Oh, that's where the money is." First of all, I would like to tell them, "having a tenure-line position; advancing from Assistant to Associate and Full Professor; applying for jobs elsewhere and getting retention packages; that's where the money is." But then that wouldn't be very polite, would it? Secondly, this is related to #3--maybe, in the intro market, but probably not in the advanced market where fewer sections are offered.

5. Do it for the love of writing activities. I truly love writing activities and whole lesson plans. It is one of my creative outlets. When I was developing this course, in the first few years I wrote down all my lesson plans. That gave me the material to build upon to create a complete coursepack for TAs to use. I listened to the TAs and the students and tweaked the materials they complained about and created new lesson plans based on the needs they expressed. That may sound like a lot of work, but it's the work I love. And if you don't have that kind of love for creating activities AND revising them, you might reconsider your desire to publish a textbook.


  1. It's a beautiful cover! I can't wait to use it; I know I'm familiar with a lot of the activities already, but it will be nice to have it in book form to supplement all the various courses in Spanish that use service-learning.

  2. This is a great post. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advice. I get less comment than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.

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