a presentation of the
IEEE Education Society

EVER THINK ABOUT BECOMING
A BOOK AUTHOR?

DAVID FOGEL, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer
Natural Selection, Inc.

IEEE Fellow
Board Member, IEEE Press
textbook author

June 2004

other presentations available at the
Society's Distinguished Lecturer Program site

Disclaimer/Claimer: The opinions, comments, endorsements, and other such information provided here are not those of the IEEE Inc. or of the IEEE Education Society, they are solely the opinion of their author.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Introduction of the Guest Speaker—Dr. David Fogel

List of Questions

All material will be hyperlinked shortly after it is posted to email.

Opening remarks by Dr. Fogel.

1. Before we really get into the process of 'getting a book published,' let me ask you what motivates you to publish the books you have? Do you think your reasons are typical or are authors motivated by widely different reasons? Do you think that there is any one thing that all authors have in-common (e.g., a burning desire to communicate an idea or concept to a wider audience)?

2. So let's say I have an idea or concept that I think could become a published book, what can I do? What do publishers want to see from a prospective author?

3. How long is the publishing process from start-to-finish?

4. What is involved in the review process? Is there a editor assigned to you to assist you as-you-go? If, so what does this editor do for you/with you?

5. What sorts of creative input come from the publisher to the author?

6. How much money can an author typically expect make from a book? What is an 'advance' and what are 'royalties'?

7. Certainly we are all aware that some books have a single author and some have multiple authors. Is there some guidance or insight you can provide as-to why some books have a single author and some have multiple authors?

Questions from the Audience

8. This is my first book deal. I have never negotiated a book deal before! How do I negotiate a contract? How can I find out more about what things in the contract really mean, as opposed to what I, a layman, think they mean? How can I find out what things are deal-breakers for the publisher? What things that a publisher might put in a contract should be deal-breakers for me? From: Pat McGee, Florida Institute of Technology

9. What does it take to get from a good, comprehensive set of lecture notes for an introductory course (with many problems solved in detail, many challenging issues discussed with examples) to a good textbook? From: Alexander Ganago, University of Michigan

Final Comments by Moderator


INTRODUCTION OF GUEST SPEAKER


Friday, June 25, 2004
From: Rob Reilly

Good day everyone,

I am glad to 'see' so many of you. Thank you for coming to this presentation, which is brought to you by the IEEE Education Society.

Today's topic is entitled:

EVER THINK ABOUT BECOMING
A BOOK AUTHOR?

The speaker is very well qualified to make this presentation.

Dr. Fogel’s experience includes over 17 years of applying computational intelligence methods and statistical experimental design to real-world problems in industry, medicine, and defense. Prior to joining Natural Selection, Inc.® in 1993, he was a Systems Analyst for Titan Systems, Inc. (1984-1988), and a Senior Principal Engineer at ORINCON Corporation (1988-1993). He received the Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the University of California at San Diego in 1992, and has subsequently taught undergraduate and graduate courses in evolutionary computation, stochastic processes, and statistical process control.

Dr. Fogel has over 200 publications in the technical literature, the majority treating the science and application of evolutionary computation. He is the author of six books, including Blondie24: Playing at the Edge of AI, 2002, Evolutionary Computation: Toward a New Philosophy of Machine Intelligence (second edition), IEEE Press, 2000, How to Solve It: Modern Heuristics (co-authored by Professor Zbigniew Michalewicz of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Springer, 2000, and Evolutionary Computation: Principles and Practice for Signal Processing (SPIE, 2000) as well as the editor of Evolutionary Computation: The Fossil Record, IEEE Press, 1998, and co-editor-in-chief of the Handbook of Evolutionary Computation, Oxford University Press, 1997.

Dr. Fogel served as the founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation (1996-2002), which has a circulation of several thousand IEEE members and distribution in libraries internationally. He was the founding president of the Evolutionary Programming Society (1991-1993) and was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 1999. He also serves as the editor-in-chief of BioSystems, and is on the editorial boards of several other technical journals. Dr. Fogel served as the general chairman for the 2002 IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, May 12-17, 2002, and was program chair for the First IEEE Symposium on Combinations of Evolutionary Computation and Neural Networks, May 11-12, 2000, San Antonio, TX.

Let me bring Dr. Fogel forward and ask him this:

1. Before we really get into the process of 'Getting a Book Published,' let me ask you what motivates you to publish the books you have? Do you think your reasons are typical or are authors motivated by widely different reasons? Do you think that there is any one thing that all authors have in-common (e.g., a burning desire to communicate an idea or concept to a wider audience)?


Date/Time: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 09:12:51 -0700
From: David Fogel

Before answering, let me first say thank you Rob. It's my pleasure to have this opportunity to share some time with you and your readers to discuss authoring books with the IEEE. I've had the good fortune to have the chance to work with some very fine people at IEEE Press and also John Wiley over the last decade, both as an author and an editor, and now as a book series editor as well. I'm looking forward to answering your questions, as well as those of your readers.

Most authors do indeed have a burning desire to communicate to a wider audience. The reasons for that desire are almost always personal, but if you find a book author, you'll find someone with desire. For me, the books that I've written have reflected my desire to affect the direction of research and development in one area of computational intelligence called evolutionary computation. My first book with IEEE Press, which came out in 1995, was titled "Evolutionary Computation: Toward a New Philosophy of Machine Intelligence," and my goal was to indicate a new direction for making machines that could solve problems without being told exactly how to solve those problems. My second book with IEEE Press, in 1998, was titled "Evolutionary Computation: The Fossil Record," and my goal with that book was to provide a historical foundation for those in the field of evolutionary computation. The book includes reprints of papers in evolutionary algorithms going back to the 1950s, with my introductory remarks on each paper based on interviews that I conducted with the original authors or their colleagues. In each of these cases, and my others books such as Blondie24 or How To Solve It: Modern Heuristics, my goal has been to share what I've found in my own research and to assist others in advancing their own efforts. For me, a desire to help others is key to writing a successful book.

-David

David B. Fogel, Ph.D.
CEO
Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 455-6449, Fax: (858) 455-1560
www.natural-selection.com


Date: Saturday, June 26, 2004 12:20am -0400
From: Rob Reilly

David, thank you for that answer.

2. So let's say I have an idea or concept that I think could become a published book, what can I do? What do publishers want to see from a prospective author?


Date: Sat, 26 Jun 2004 11:04:30 -0700
From: David Fogel (dfogel@NATURAL-SELECTION.COM)

Publishers generally want to see several things from a prospective author. First, a publisher wants to know that the author has a clear vision of his or her book's content, audience, and objectives. So when an author approaches a publisher, the publisher will likely provide a form to the author to complete in which the prospective author will suggest the title, content, and goals for the book, the likely audience, the technical level of the material, the overall size of the book, and other details, including any other books that are already in the marketplace that would be competitive. The publisher generally doesn't want the answer to that last item to be "none," that is, the publisher wants to know that there are competitive books because that indicates a market for the topic. But the publisher also wants to know why the author's book will be different. The publisher also may want some suggestions on independent technical reviewers for the author's proposal, and the publisher may already have associations with external reviewers. The more complete the proposal, the better the chances of gaining the publisher's attention. The publisher also would like to know that the author can communicate effectively, so previous publications, especially other books, can provide a helpful track record for reference. That said, it's not necessarily difficult for a first-time book author to come to an agreement with a publisher. He or she may have a slightly higher hurdle to overcome the first time though. So to return to the first part of your question, my advice would be that if you have an idea or concept and you think it might be possible to create a book from this concept, flesh out the concept in as much detail as you can before you approach a publisher, unless you already have an existing relationship with a publisher who you can approach and feel comfortable brainstorming with.

-David

Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 455-6449, Fax: (858) 455-1560
www.natural-selection.com


Date: Sunday, June 27, 2004 9:02am -0400
From: Rob Reilly

It seems that being a book author can be a time-consuming task:

3. How long is the publishing process from start-to-finish?


Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 21:36:53 -0700
From: David Fogel (dfogel@natural-selection.com)

This varies significantly by the author, publisher, and the type of book. It's funny though that even though that's undoubtedly true, for me, almost every book I've written has taken about three years from start to publication. Somehow, they are never really "finished." After publication, there is promotion, and perhaps if you're fortunate a second or even third edition. Books tend to take a life of their own, but eventually they do finish. I can think of other books that have been created in less time, but I also find that if an author and publisher are serious about putting out a first-class product, it takes time to edit, revise, get some feedback, and revise again, work on the art, cover design, and so forth, and all of that effort demands time. My advice is not to be in a hurry when writing a book because the final product will probably reflect that.

-David.

Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 455-6449, Fax: (858) 455-1560
www.natural-selection.com


Date: Monday, June 28, 2004 8:59pm -0400
From: Rob Reilly

4. What is involved in the review process? Is there a editor assigned to you to assist you as-you-go? If, so what does this editor do for you/with you?


Date: Tuesday, June 29, 2004
From: David Fogel (dfogel@natural-selection.com)

The review process depends on the publisher, but generally an author of a technical book will work with an editor at the publisher, who will arrange for external technical reviews. These reviews are usually conducted in the standard anonymous manner, but occasionally technical reviewers will be identified upfront. The editor will generally collect the reviews, look for similarities across the comments, and make suggestions to the author as to what he or she believes to be most important to consider in subsequent revisions.

-David

Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 455-6449, Fax: (858) 455-1560
www.natural-selection.com


Date: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 8:30pm -0400
From: Rob Reilly

5. What sorts of creative input come from the publisher to the author?


Tue, 29 Jun 2004 17:33:49 -0700
From: David Fogel (dfogel@natural-selection.com)

Sometimes a great deal. Usually, the author is one who knows his or her technical subject and has the desire to bring this knowledge to others. Depending on the diversity of the audience, the publisher can make many helpful suggestions about how to find the right words to communicate effectively beyond the author's usual base of colleagues and/or students. The publisher can also be very helpful in suggesting ways to market the book and in the look and feel of the book, which are also very important.

-David

Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 455-6449, Fax: (858) 455-1560
www.natural-selection.com


Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2004
From: David Fogel

> David, this is very enlightening, let me continue-on and ask this:

> 6. How much money can an author typically expect make from a book?
> What is an 'advance' and what are 'royalties'?

Royalties for authors on technical books probably average around 10% but it depends on the projected market size, life the book, author reputation, and so forth. Some publishers will offer an advance to the author that is counted against royalties, so that the author can receive some money upfront and then will start to receive royalties once the advance has been covered. My advice, however, is not to write a technical book with the objective of making money. With the amount of time and effort that goes into the book, it's very likely that if making money is the objective, someone with the skills to be an effective author can find a better way to make money. An author should have a passion for their material and a passion for wanting to share it with others. There are only a few technical books that aren't textbooks that are "best sellers."

-David

Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 455-6449, Fax: (858) 455-1560
www.natural-selection.com


Date: Thursday, July 1, 2004
From: Rob Reilly

Here's a comment-of-interest from Professor C. S. Indulkar, Ph.D. of Delhi, India:

"I wrote a book on electrical engineering materials in 1966. The price of the book, now in its fourth edition, is seven and half times more than what it was in 1966. This is just for information to the participants in relation to question number 6."

Thank you for your comment; that was very interesting.

Now onto the next question:

7. Certainly we are all aware that some books have a single author and some have multiple authors. Is there some guidance or insight you can provide as-to why some books have a single author and some have multiple authors?


Thu, 1 Jul 2004 22:45:15 -0700
From: David Fogel (dfogel@NATURAL-SELECTION.COM)

Before answering question 7, let me just say thanks to Dr. Indulkar for his comment. It brings up a point I should make regarding book prices. I personally find textbook and other technical book prices to be too high. Lots of things go up in price over the years, but I think book prices have outpaced associated costs. IEEE Press prices have been moderate, in my view, relative to other publishers, but I have had many open and frank conversations with IEEE about pricing on my own IEEE books, particularly my historical book "Evolutionary Computation: The Fossil Record," which I intended for graduate students to use as reference material. I should say that I've appreciated the opportunity to share my concerns on price with the publisher and to engage in a discussion about it. Of course, there are always libraries and we can encourage their use, but even the libraries have to buy the books.

So, one thing to keep in mind as an author is the price that the publisher will charge for the book. If you find this to be a "hot button" for you, you could consider inserting language in your contract regarding the price. I have done this twice in an attempt to hold the price on my books to levels that I felt were reasonable. I did that after hearing how some of my colleagues worked very hard on a book on fuzzy logic only to find the publisher price the book at almost $300. I simply didn't want to be in that position. As an author, you may or may not want to have specific language about price in the contract. The negative side of it is that the publisher needs the freedom to charge an amount that fits their business plans. In any case, you should always ask the publisher what the price will be before proceeding so you can judge this aspect ahead of time.

Turning to question 7, regarding coauthors, having done both, I can say definitively there are benefits and limitations to both approaches. Usually the benefit comes in reducing the total effort that any single author contributes to the entire project. It can be, however, that actually more effort is expended when both authors really care about making a first-class product because the authors may have different writing styles and it may require many revisions to smooth out those differences in order to have the book feel that it has only a single voice. Multiple authors are good when a book is to cover diverse areas and the authors are not all experts in each area. Single authorship gives you complete control on what you want to write, but it also means you are responsible for everything and must use your own motivation to maintain a schedule and make progress toward your goal. Having a coauthor can be a good way to have someone provide support to you and motivate you, and you can provide that support and motivation back to them.

-David

Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 455-6449, Fax: (858) 455-1560
www.natural-selection.com


Date: Saturday, July 3, 2004 11:30pm -0400
From: Rob Reilly

Thank you David.

Here are two questions from the audience:

8. This is my first book deal. I have never negotiated a book deal before! How do I negotiate a contract? How can I find out more about what things in the contract really mean, as opposed to what I, a layman, think they mean? How can I find out what things are deal-breakers for the publisher? What things that a publisher might put in a contract should be deal-breakers for me? From: Pat McGee, Florida Institute of Technology

9. What does it take to get from a good, comprehensive set of lecture notes for an introductory course (with many problems solved in detail, many challenging issues discussed with examples) to a good textbook? From: Alexander Ganago, University of Michigan


Date: Sat, 3 Jul 2004 11:07:59 -0700
From: David Fogel (dfogel@REDWIRE.NET)

8. On the question from Pat McGee: Pat, first congratulations on taking the step to write a book and the first one is always the most challenging, I think. Your next one will be challenging too, but for different reasons. With regard to negotiating, my answer here is simply a reflection of my own opinion, as opposed to matters of fact. For me, in looking at a book deal, I try to identify the things that I find important to me personally and ensure that the contract reflects those things. You absolutely must understand everything that is in the contract. You are going to sign it, after all. So if you are unclear about anything in the contract, the first thing to do is request a clarification from the publisher. If that suffices to explain the language and you feel comfortable with the explanation, that's good. If you have any remaining doubts, you should feel free to discuss the section in question with another person in confidence, even to the point of asking an attorney for an opinion. I believe you should engage an attorney only as a matter of last recourse because in that case you are essentially spending your royalties, but others may have a different opinion and want an attorney to review any contract he or she signs. I cannot argue with that approach, but it is costly. One of the things that a publisher may put in a contract that you might want to watch for are rights of first refusal on new books. This means that for any new book you are going to write, the publisher would have an opportunity to bid on the book first. If you don't come to an agreement in a period of time -- a few months usually -- then you are free to market elsewhere. You may find this overly constrictive, or you may not care. That's up to you. The publisher will probably include language in the contract saying that you will not be able to publish a similar book with a different publisher. That sort of noncompetitive clause is perfectly rational for the publisher, and can be a deal-breaker if you don't want to agree. Once you have multiple books written, you'll need to ensure that any subsequent editions of earlier books are not excluded by any language in a new contract with a different publisher. Royalties are always important, but I think you'll find the deal-breakers in other sections of the contract. If your book may have a large audience, you may be appropriate in discussing a marketing strategy with the publisher and having that strategy written into the contract in terms of publisher support for you assisting in marketing (giving talks, appearances, etc.). You would need to be willing to do those sorts of things, however. Please follow up with any more specific concern, but I think the general answers to your questions are: (1) if you are in doubt about anything in a contract, first ask the publisher to clarify, and then if the answer is not clear, ask a friend, or ultimately an attorney, and (2) expect to see some language that would restrict you from writing a similar book for another publisher.

9. On the question from Alexander Ganago: Alexander, this is a very good question. It's not the way I have written my own books, so please keep that in mind in reading my answer. As we all have experienced when we were in undergraduate and graduate school, course notes can indeed be very detailed. If so, I think that they would provide an excellent basis for moving to a textbook because they provide the essential outline necessary for completing the text. We have all experienced the other case, where notes are not very detailed, or not put together in a coherent manner (at least they didn't seem coherent!) and in that case, it might be better to start over. A good textbook is not just a series of chapters, but rather a series of interwoven chapters. Bringing the course notes alive into a *good* textbook still requires all the effort that writing any textbook requires once you know what material you want to discuss, in what order, and how to tie it together. Bringing everything together into an integrated whole is, for me, what is the last 10% of the writing process and it takes much more than 10% of the effort. So overall, if you have detailed notes, with good examples, and you've improved your notes over several classes with feedback from the students, and you have a story to tell, so to speak, then I think you have the basis for a potentially very good course textbook. What you might do is write chapter 1 and use that as a supplement in your next class and see what feedback the students have for you. With textbooks, student feedback is critical. I hope my answer is helpful.

-David.

Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 455-6449, Fax: (858) 455-1560
www.natural-selection.com


Date: Monday, July 5, 2004 11:52pm -0400
From: Rob Reilly

David hello,

There does not seem to be any more questions from the audience, so it appears to be time to begin to close this discussion.

David, let me ask if you have any 'closing comments' to make?

-Rob- reilly@media.mit.edu


Date: Mon, 5 Jul 2004 23:17:01 -0700 (PDT)
From: dfogel@redwire.net

Thanks very much for the opportunity to spend some time with all of you. I enjoyed and I hope the questions and answers were helpful. If anyone ever has any questions regarding books, and in particular with IEEE Press/Wiley, please don't hesitate to contact me directly. I'll be happy to help as I'm able.

Regards,

David Fogel
Natural Selection, Inc.
3333 N. Torrey Pines Ct., Suite 200
La Jolla, CA 92037
USA
dfogel@natural-selection.com


Tuesday, July 6, 2004 22:45:10 -0400
From: Rob Reilly (reilly@media.mit.edu)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has been a particular pleasure to have had so many of you attend this presentation.

I want to add my profound appreciation to David Fogel for taking time *everyday* to provide his words of wisdom to us. As a small token of our gratitude, the IEEE Education Society is giving David a $50USD gift certificate to the Outback Steak House.

David, we are deeply grateful to you.

Now let me provide some administrative closure to this discussion.

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-Rob- reilly@media.mit.edu