And then, you know, every once in a while—that is, in between screeds on POD publishers or the pleasures of doing pro bono projects or the ever-increasing price of textbooks (It’s shocking I tell you! Shocking!)—we actually get around to publishing a book now and again. In addition to the newly published and highly epic Hand Tools Manual—every intern for the last two years has worked on it in some capacity and all have trembled in awe and terror (I’m moderately kidding) when contemplating the majesty of its demanding technical illustrations and editorial guidelines—our most recent title is Biomedical Equipment Technicians, the first in our TechCareers series focusing on different technical professions.
For us this is a project that is radically different from what we’ve been publishing up to this point:
- It’s a career guide instead of instructional/curriculum materials per se;
- We used a clutch of freelance writers to work on different aspects of content production;
- We were the beneficiaries of underwriting to fund its development and production; and
- We’ll be doing our first offset print job to produce 2,000 copies at once instead of ad hoc POD.
I’m always the first to admit: I’m no rocket scientist. But every once in a while I figure out a thing or two. Namely, TSTC is a technical college with 35+ specialized programs. So why not put that expertise to good use by putting together career guides? (D’oh, I say. D’oh!) Not that these are exclusively TSTC-centric publications by any means. In addition to an overview of career paths and educational requirements there are also sample degree plans from several schools from around the country, a listing of all BET programs in the United States, and additional suggested resources for the biomedical equipment technician profession.
Plus, instead of leaning exclusively on faculty to produce materials, why not use freelance writers when appropriate/possible? Sure, for the core content of the BET TechCareers book we were lucky enough to be able to work with Dr. Roger Bowles, chair of the TSTC Waco BET program. At the same time we were also able to utilize the talents of Karen Mitchell Smith, Helen Ginger, Clay Coppedge, and Heather Lee (of Bryan-College Station’s The Eagle) to provide invaluable profiles of BET students, graduates, instructors, and employers to produce engaging anecdotal information to flesh out Roger’s materials.
Also, I have to admit that making the leap from straight textbook publishing to a more general title has been a skosh nerve wracking. That is, the general pricing schedule of textbooks tends to be higher than their trade equivalents—shocking! (redux!)—and a textbook typically has some baseline adoption sales built into it or you wouldn’t be publishing it to start with. Thanks, however, to funding from TSTC Emerging Technologies under the guidance of Michael Bettersworth, Associate Vice Chancellor for Technology Advancement, we were able to cover some of the initial production and development costs so that this project could go forward and allow for a significant percentage of the first print run to be distributed for free to high schools around Texas.
Next up is a welding TechCareers written by Karen Mitchell Smith. After that, probably automotive. But, no matter what, over the next year we’ll be publishing at least five more titles in this series. And that’s not counting the forthcoming TechCareers blog and email newsletter. More details happily coming as events warrant!