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Book gets double-takes at TCCTA conference

10 Mar

A book that promises lust, violence and religion within its covers had some doing double-takes at TSTC Publishing’s exhibit booth at the recent Texas Community College Teachers Association conference in Houston.

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Editorial Intern: More from Nathan McCoy

12 Oct

Besides helping us work up blurbs for our first catalog, editorial intern Nathan McCoy has produced another promotional piece for us, this one about The Quick Math Review by Diana Gafford, developmental math chair at Texas State Technical College Harlingen. Thought I’d share that piece with you.


TSTC Harlingen Faculty Collaborate on Quick Math Review


By Nathan McCoy
October 2, 2007

During planning for the Quick Review math course at Texas State Technical College Harlingen, Diana Gafford, developmental math department chair at TSTC Harlingen, said she looked through several books for the class but couldn’t find anything she liked.

“I wanted a bare bones book and didn’t want students to pay $150 for a textbook,” Gafford said.

So Gafford decided to write her own book, The Quick Math Review, with assistance from Dr. Mike Hosseinpour, senior math instructor at TSTC Harlingen. The book is a basic review workbook that covers the material needed for the Quick Review class, an intensive one-week course covering topics from Basic Mathematics, Introductory Algebra and Intermediate Algebra.

Gafford said the book begins with fractions and continues into areas such as factoring, basic algebra and graphing.

“I wrote this book to help these kids accelerate through the developmental sequence,” Gafford said. “It pares everything down to the very basic skills that students need to know.”

The developmental math department offers support to programs at TSTC Harlingen to improve their students’ math skills and prepare them for the workplace or other college-level math courses.

The class is held the week before the regular semester. Students are taught from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an hour break for lunch.

Gafford said she has been very pleased with the inclusion of The Quick Math Review in the Quick Review class.

“Out of all our students, 65 to 70 percent move up and pass the class to save themselves a semester or two of Basic Math or Introductory Algebra,” Gafford said.

* * *

Nathan McCoy is a senior at Baylor University, majoring in journalism and public relations with a minor in marketing. He’s a 2004 graduate of Irmo High School, Columbia, S.C. Between classes, interning here and working at the Baylor Fund Call Center, he enjoys getting involved with all things having to do with music: learning guitar, listening to it whenever possible and going to concerts. He’s also a sports fan, supporting Baylor athletics, rooting for the Dallas Mavericks, complaining about the Texas Rangers, and playing golf, tennis and basketball. After graduation he hopes to work in public relations.

Book Design: Throw Me Align

15 Jun

For the past two weeks here, I have been working exclusively on the page layout for Diana Gafford’s Quick Math Review, a developmental math book for TSTC Harlingen. On my last day of swimming through a sea of equations, I find myself thinking about alignment and how it keeps things organized and directs the eye of the reader through the text. I have come to realize that it does not matter how I choose to align the equations, by the fraction bar or by the numbers above or even below the fraction bar. In the words of the publisher, Mark, “what matters is consistency.”

In the same way, creative professionals must align their ideas with those of the client in order to develop a final product that is both marketable and functional. Figuring out how the client wants to portray a product or service takes just such a meeting of the minds. Any graphics specialist who has created say, a logo, for a client knows how tricky it can be to turn a client’s concept into something that will generate public interest in a product, be eye-catching, promote product recognition, and be simple enough to use at any size. What keeps a client coming back is the designer’s ability to be consistently flexible. As far as math books go, I cannot say that I derive the enjoyment from math equations that book designer and layout artist Stephen Tiano does, however I see that finishing a book full of equations can be a rewarding accomplishment.


Book Publishing Operations: Summer 2007 Production Schedule

7 Jun

Now that June is here we are thoroughly in the midst of our summer production schedule. As always, we have a variety of projects in production as well as more in development that will enter actual production either this upcoming fall or spring.

As for textbooks, we have five in production that will be ready for fall adoptions: The Quick Math Review by Diana Gafford and Dr. Mike Hosseinpour, both from TSTC Harlingen; Contemporary Math with MAPLE by Dr. Otto Wilke, TSTC Waco; two nursing books put together by the nursing faculty at TSTC West Texas in Sweetwater, and a tool and die projects book by Art Olivares at TSTC Harlingen. In addition, we are doing some odds and ends of updates/corrections to current titles in print before we start our summer print run. (As always, we do enough books for about one semester at a time to keep our printing and storage costs down.) I was hoping that we might do a couple of books via offset printing as opposed to digital print-on-demand means but I’m not sure if at this point there is time to put that together.

In addition, we have a whole slate of projects in development that will enter the actual production cycle at different points in the future: an ethics reader/anthology, two technical dictionaries, a coffee-table book about TSTC, and the epic hand tools book that is, finally, nearing completion, although not quite quickly enough to be ready for this fall. The ethics reader is a new kind of project we’re working on: all the articles in it come from outside sources so we’re doing a lot of permissions research and negotiating that, when it all comes together, should produce a well-rounded book that will have given us good experience with working with folks outside of the TSTC System.

We also have one of our interns working on a bird’s eye view map of the TSTC Waco campus; he’s been working on this for a couple of months now and we plan on having this done in time for holiday sales this fall. (Last year I saw an exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, of nineteenth century bird’s eye view maps of Texas that gave me the idea to put something like this together for our college.) We’re also working on some sample line drawings in different styles of native Texas plants and flowers as part of a possible subcontracting job for another publisher working on a Texas gardening reference guide.

In terms of pro bono work, we’re just waiting to get materials from the Waco Cultural Arts Fest folks to put together the catalog for their fall festival. We did this last year and look forward to doing it again.

I feel like we’re finally hitting our stride at TSTC Publishing. That is, the first couple of years we weren’t at the production level we are now and, in addition, we were doing a lot of loss leader and pro bono work as a way to learn to how to do different kinds of projects. Now that we’ve published 23 books in a little less than two years, we know how to do what we do—publish books—and are streamlining and refining our processes—as opposed to still devising and developing them from scratch—so that we are as efficient as possible. Marketing issues along with some new production capabilities—namely, print-on-demand perfect binding through TSTC Waco Printing Production—are what we’ll be concentrating on the next six months or so. All in all, we’re happily on track with the overall goal of being financially self-sustaining within the next 18-24 months so that’s making me—a perennially pessimistic optimist or, maybe, an optimistic pessimist, or, perhaps, a realist—feel as good about our future potential growth as I possibly could.


Book Editing: Math . . . It’s Not Just for English Majors

25 May

My first assignment as editor here has been Diana Gafford’s Quick Math Review, a developmental math text for TSTC Harlingen. To be honest, the idea of editing a math textbook of any kind frightened me some, math phobic that I am. How much math would I actually need to know? Would there be a test? Fortunately, all the math homework had been done. My chief worries would be issues of editing.

Still, as I’ve worked through the book, I’ve become reminded of my own experience with similar math classes as an undergraduate at Texas State University in San Marcos (in my day still called Southwest Texas State University). Pack rat that I am, up until a few months ago I still had the math book I used in intermediate algebra—a text bound at a local copy shop, written by the prof who taught the course, worn yellow cover now with various doodles on it (admittedly I wasn’t always attentive).

I don’t know why I kept the book, except perhaps as a reminder that I had triumphed over math and math anxiety, and not math and math anxiety over me. But I had it, and about a year later, it proved useful as a reference when studying for the Graduate Record Exam (though an English major, I was required to take all three sections of the GRE: verbal, analytic and quantitative).

All my petty complaints throughout undergraduate school wondering why I had ever had to take math were shattered by the decision to pursue a master’s degree, because knowing at least some basic math beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication and division became essential to furthering my academic career. Low scores on the GRE would mean no graduate school.

After the GRE, I never thought I would ever need math again, beyond the basics, and for the most part in my career as an editor at the Temple Daily Telegram and as adjunct instructor at McLennan Community College, my math skills were rarely challenged, except perhaps in creative checkbook balancing.

But here I am at TSTC Publishing, an editor, and I find myself editing a math book. While my editing duties haven’t included actually having to solve equations, I still have to be aware of the basics of math, because of the quirks of editing and formatting — tables set up in MS Word caused, for instance, decimals to shift, and decimals have to line up, or examples will be wrong; points on graphs have to line up just right, for instance, or they’re wrong. I’ve also had to learn to read equations and mathematical symbols such as > or < as parts of complete sentences to edit them correctly.

And though it’s unlikely I’ll ever have to solve any of the equations in the books I edit, using those skills I complained about having to learn as an undergraduate proves a point as to why math or English or any other subject is required: You never really know when, how, or where you might need some inkling of that subject, whether you’re in publishing, an instructor, or part of any other business.

As an editor, I’ve brought almost everything I’ve experienced and learned with me to book publishing — the essentials: grammar, punctuation, spelling — math, history, tech skills, literary trivia, the language of business, science, pop culture trivia, rhetoric, and virtually everything else under the sun, most of which I can never discount as unnecessary to my profession.


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