Academic Author Advisers Launches

“Academic Author Advisers provides experienced, strategic coaching and creative support for academic authors who want to improve the financial, professional, and personal rewards that come from their writing activities.” academicauthoradvisers.com

We Have Lift Off!

by Sean Wakely, Founder and Principal Adviser, Academic Author Advisers

For several weeks, I’ve contemplated what to say in this first post:

  • Should it be something profound? Nope, too boring.
  • A favorite quote, perhaps?  Too predictable.
  • Something mildly humorous, but inoffensive? Certain to be a yawn.

Then I realized the best way to start is to just tell you what Academic Authors Advisers is all about, who I am, and what you might find as this blog evolves.  So I’ll begin with a simple question:  What is Academic Author Advisers?

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What Is Academic Author Advisers?

Academic Author Advisers (or “Advisers” as I’ve taken to calling it) is my attempt to bridge a gap. There is a growing chasm between what some higher education authors and content experts experience in today’s publishing environment and what they actually need to be more successful professionally, personally, and financially. As a response to this disconnect, I founded Advisers.

Advisers’ mission is to provide experienced, strategic, and creative consulting services to higher education authors and content experts in order to help them:

  • Improve the financial return and increase their satisfaction from professional writing and content creation activities.
  • Enhance their interactions with publishers or content providers.
  • Accelerate their successful transitions to innovative digital publishing and distribution models.

As Advisers’ founder and principal adviser, my frame of reference is the experience I’ve gained through a career in higher education sales, editorial, and senior management. One of the most satisfying aspects of my publishing career has been the pleasure and privilege to work closely with authors and content experts. Regardless of the past publishing role, I always believed it was my job to help my authors:

  • Solve problems that keep them from writing and creating.
  • Understand how the higher education publishing, marketing, and sales processes work.
  • Innovate by providing information about customers and market trends
  • Brainstorm solutions to customers’ common challenges or pain points.

To learn more about my professional background, please click here.

 

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Writing with a Purpose

What I’ve experienced in nearly thirty years in educational publishing is a stimulating profession with a true purpose:  Together, higher education authors and publishers create learning materials that contribute to the growth and development of our customers. Print textbooks can be rented or re-sold and digital learning materials may time out after the semester ends. Yet, higher education learning materials are not truly disposable; the value derived from them often lasts a lifetime.

Higher education authors and content experts, in partnership with their publishers, expend enormous efforts to research, prepare, and present credible information that supports instruction. Among other benefits, higher educational learning materials:

  • Teach more effective thinking skills.
  • Promote enhanced employment and life skills.
  • Provide knowledge that develops more informed parents, consumers, and citizens.
  • Inspire a better understanding of the world and the universe around us.

I strongly believe that writing, developing, and publishing for higher educational learning environments is a truly worthy and worthwhile pursuit.

 

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A Challenging Commitment

While it may be worthy, for most higher education authors and content experts writing is not always obviously worthwhile. It takes genuine dedication for an author to carve out the time necessary to create a manuscript or develop courseware. Teaching responsibilities, research and grant requirements, promotion and tenure activities, departmental and academic expectations, last-minute class assignment, outside work or consulting commitments, and family obligations are just a few of the demands that conspire to place many authors in front of the keyboard at all hours of the night, on weekends, and during holidays. Financial rewards are certainly part of the motivation, but they’re not the whole picture.

Most authors understand that potential financial rewards don’t usually offset the time and effort it takes to publish. More often, authors are:

  • Energized by the chance to translate scholarship and their own teaching expertise into new learning tools.
  • Excited to engage learners in the subject areas about which they care deeply.
  • Enthusiastic about the opportunity to reach many more learners through their published works than they could reach in a lifetime of teaching their own classes.

In my experience, the best and most successful authors are those with a point of view and the passion to communicate it. The best and most successful publishers are the ones who recognize these qualities and value and nurture them.

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A Changing Environment

Adding to the traditional demands on an author’s time and attention, recent developments in the educational publishing industry create new burdens. Expectations to share or fully absorb more publishing costs, to optimize existing print products for evolving digital contexts, or to abandon print altogether can be laid at authors’ feet with little explanation or research-based support, thereby create new obstacles and distractions for authors and content experts.

Higher education publishers are adapting to a changing environment by constantly reorganizing, restructuring, and experimenting. They are exploring new product configurations, creative delivery tactics, unprecedented customer engagement strategies, and unconventional transaction models. Innovative products and services can be quickly scaled, unceremoniously abandoned, or both in rapid succession. Authors can be left out of communications loops, confused about constantly evolving publishing processes, and unsure where they fit into their own publisher’s big picture strategy or its strategic priorities.

New content sources, such as Open Educational Resources (OER), MOOCs, and startups have potential to disrupt the existing higher education publishing status quo. To savvy authors, content experts, and publishers, these new competitors represent challenges, but in many cases they also offer opportunities. By remaining close to the customer, observing their common challenges and problems, and truly listening to customers’ responses to proposed solutions, authors and publishers can remain relevant.  They can apply their joint experience and ingenuity to solve customers’ problems, rather than creating new, discouraging hurdles for them.

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Advisers Helps Navigate an Evolving Landscape

Advisers was founded under the presumption that most successful authors and their publishers or content providers are entrepreneurial collaborators who form supportive and transparent relationships as equal partners.

We provide our clients with information they can use to better prepare themselves for publisher discussions and negotiations. In addition, we connect our clients with clerical, supplement, and content development sources to free up more time to create. When appropriate, we also provide referrals to professionals who are prepared to help with the legal, accounting, and auditing realities of higher education textbook publishing and content distribution.

Advisers is uniquely positioned to listen to both sides of the author-publisher partnership and suggest win-win solutions to seemingly intractable problems. To learn more about Academic Author Advisers and the services we offer, please click here.

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This Blog’s Future

This site is Advisers’ central communication source. I’m sure the ground rules will evolve as time goes on, but as of today here is what you can count on when reading this blog:

  • All opinions are my own, unless otherwise cited or linked. However, this blog does represent and reflect upon the philosophy, services, and activities of Academic Author Advisers.
  • Reader comments are welcome and encouraged. Lively debate is the cornerstone of rigorous thinking and supports innovation. However, personal attacks or insults, vulgarity, commercial promotion, or other comments judged to be rude, infringing, or irrelevant won’t be approved for posting. You must be 18 years of age to submit a comment to this site.  By submitting a comment you represent that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Advisers’ clients are higher education authors and content experts. To avoid conflicts of interest, Advisers doesn’t represent higher education textbook publishers. If Advisers’ business model were to change or expand its client base in the future, it will be disclosed via this site.
  • In some cases, I refer to authors, but I also mean to include digital content experts and digital learning solutions developers in such references. Of course, all authors can, and often do, develop content for digital solutions, courseware, and hybrid products (print and digital components, such as online homework products, sold together or separately). My contention is that it’s preferable to first determine what the desired learning goals and outcomes are, and then choose the best medium, whether print or digital, to achieve those targeted goals and outcomes.

 

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Thank You and an Invitation

Thanks for being part of Advisers’ launch by reading this first posting.

Please visit the Advisers’ website, “like” our Facebook and LinkedIn company pages, and follow us on Twitter. Please also answer the poll and share your comments below — I want to hear from you!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared my evolving plans for Advisers with a number of trusted friends and family.  This launch couldn’t have happened without their enthusiasm, support, and excellent ideas for improvement.  Thanks to all of you (you know who you are)!

©Academic Author Advisers
All photographs in this posting are ©Sean Wakely
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