In the last column, we explored ways of improving the weakest part of many job seekers’ qualifications through publishing. While there are any number of ways that job-seeking educators could get published, this column will focus on taking lesson plans and ideas and turning them into strengths for your CV.
Most language teachers have lesson plans and ideas for textbooks, and (as outlined in the last column) nowadays it has never been easier to get writings into published books. If you have enough ideas, start on your own but there are benefits to collaboration with one or two other likeminded teachers: sharing ideas and the workload, as well as a larger market for the textbooks as each person uses them in his or her classes. The main thing is to start and keep at it. As one successful textbook writer I spoke with advised: “Just start with the chapters and keep adding to it regularly and it’ll come together surprisingly quickly.”
Once you have the materials together, here are a few ways, but by no means the only ways, that you can go about getting your textbook published, aside from sending a proposal off to a large publishing house: Using a textbook publisher where you guarantee a certain number of copies over a set period of time. There are a number of publishers that provide this as a type of service and they can easily be found throughout Japan. Note that there is very little vetting or editing involved, so as with everything else be sure to carefully edit and put together a good product. Another way is to simply print them and attach an ISBN number; there are any number of companies that will print and bind books from 500 yen and up, depending on the number of copies ordered and the number of pages per copy. Be sure to register the book with an ISBN number, which can be purchased or obtained through the Materials Writers (MW) SIG.
While there are a number of reasons to publish a textbook, for job-seekers, the biggest value is in enhancing your CV and improving your job application package. Remember to get a dozen or so extra copies of the textbook that you can include in your employment application process. It is almost always helpful for a hiring committee to see a textbook that has been written and published by the job applicant as it helps articulate your pedagogical approaches and adds value to the application. In addition, ensure that it is added to your publications list, with the title, ISBN number, and publisher (APA style is always a good option).
A final word of caution: ensure that all of your work is original and well done. While ideas are not trademarked, never use any copy-written work or work that might belong to the institution that you were working at while it was being developed. In addition, copying and pasting (plagiarizing) other work would be detrimental to any candidate’s chances for obvious reasons. Obtaining original illustrations can be easy by outsourcing to artists in countries such as the Philippines or online so there is no reason not to have your own original materials.