Batch reviewing is how we solicit feedback from instructors on the content of a book while it is being written or revised. It’s a time-tested hallmark of Development, designed to ensure that each book we work on meets the needs and challenges of the course as much as possible.
Rather than have the manuscript reviewed in full when it’s finished, we review chapters in a number of smaller batches along the way. This offers critical feedback that will inform the ongoing revisions, while also providing valuable information about the course and market that enables us to retain current users and seed new business.
Most often, we review books in 3 batches of chapters, depending on the book’s length. We try to include 4-8 chapters in each batch, which may be sequential or non-sequential. For an edited volume (or books with multiple authors), batches should represent contributions from different authors or editors. The specific chapters that make up each individual batch can be worked out in discussion with the Development Editor.
Some projects—particularly first editions—begin with a “Batch A” review of one or two sample chapters. The Development Editor will read this sample and provide feedback. Generally, this will not address content so much as readability, pedagogy, chapter length, formatting/signposting, and consistency in author voice. It’s a useful first step to ensure your book is on the right course!
On average, Development aims for 10-15 reviewers per batch review.
The Development Editor will research institutions where the course is currently being taught, paying particular attention to big departments with large enrollments. Potential reviewers will also come from editorial recommendations, adopters of previous editions and/or competing books, sales reports, and online searches. Development will also ensure that we find the appropriate segment of the market—whether that be geographic, student level, etc.
The batch review process both helps to guide ongoing revisions and seed adoptions for your final book.
Instructors will be sent a detailed review questionnaire to complete, asking them for in-depth opinions on the chapters, as well as for information about the course content and the specific challenges of teaching it. The goal is to make sure that the final, revised manuscript meets those challenges as best as possible.
The Development Editor will then collate all of the review feedback into a single document, summarizing the responses and looking for points of consensus among the reviews. This consensus will inform our recommendations. For example, if 6 out of 10 instructors suggest that additional pedagogy or learning tools are needed, or that coverage of certain topics is superfluous to the book’s overall scope, the Development Editor will discuss this in the batch report.
Some of the recommendations may be specific to individual chapters, while some may help guide the writing of chapters in subsequent batches. This feedback is designed to offer as much useful information as possible, and a practical guide to strengthening the book overall.
There are a number of important reasons why Development takes this review approach:
In summary, batch reviewing is one of the most effective ways to provide our authors with market feedback. It's an invaluable tool in guiding revisions, retaining current users, and seeding new adoptions and sales of our books!
For each project, the Development Editor carefully selects a review panel made up of instructors currently teaching in the field. Normally, we include 10 to 15 reviewers located in the book’s most relevant global territories. Their feedback is gathered throughout the process. Their active involvement, comments, and focus on the product are critical to its success.
The following points are taken into consideration when selecting reviewers:
For a new edition of a textbook, we will include a combination of reviewers who adopted the previous edition and those who have not yet used the book in their teaching. This allows us to cement old adoptions and seed new ones.
Reviewers are likely to provide us with many comments and suggestions. In order to ensure that a book appeals to the greatest number of adopters, we report only on points of consensus, breaking this down to territory if possible in order to best understand the market.
Authors will be able to read through the full comments in the final report; however reviewers’ names will be omitted and replaced by a letter or number, e.g. Reviewer A.
The batch review process typically takes 12-18 months, but depends on the length of the book. Authors can expect to receive feedback approximately 6-8 weeks after delivery of each batch. This feedback must then be taken into account when writing each subsequent batch of chapters to ensure that the book will appeal to as many instructors as possible and be consistent in level, tone, and pedagogy.
Below is an example of a typical batch review schedule for a textbook with 12 chapters.
The Development Editor writes a development report at each stage of the review process: for the initial review of the current edition or proposal, and for each batch of chapters.
The recommendations made in the report are based on points of consensus in the reviewers' feedback; generally, if three or more reviewers make the same point or suggestion, this would be noted in the report. The Development Editor will not try to address every single point raised by individual reviewers, as these can sometimes be contradictory, but will focus on providing feedback that will allow the text to appeal to the widest number of potential adopters, and avoid integrating opinions that may not be commonly held.
However, full responses from the reviewers are also included in the report so the author has the opportunity to read these and pick up on any further suggestions or advice that they may wish to take on board.
The report will typically include:
This section lays out the Development Editor's recommendations for the text and any online resources, with suggested changes and rationale clearly explained.
This section of the report picks out only the points of consensus for each question, indicating number of respondents in agreement.
The reviewers' full answers to each question are collated so that all of the answers to question 1 are together, then all of the answers to question 2, and so on.
The publication date of textbooks is especially important, given that they must be available at the right times of year for instructors to review their options and consider using the book in their course for the forthcoming academic year. It is therefore extremely important that authors stick to agreed submission dates, as missing one deadline can have an effect on the rest of the schedule, thus delaying the publication of the book to the next window of time. Of course, many authors are also carrying full teaching schedules and other responsibilities as well as writing, so changes in schedules do come up. If an author is likely to need an extension, they should inform the Development Editor immediately so the schedule can be adjusted as required.
Final Manuscript: The complete manuscript should be submitted 8 months prior to the planned publication date, but this may vary depending on the complexity of the book – for example, for 4-color and/or complex designs with a lot of art or math, production will take longer. The specific date for submission will be discussed with the Development Editor.
Permissions: Any permissions needed are due upon submission of the final manuscript. For some projects, a freelancer hired by the Development Editor may handle permissions.
Companion Website and Online Resources: Complete content must be submitted in time to be edited, designed, and tested so it can go live simultaneously with your book's publication. For online resources (available on the book's page on Routledge.com), content should be submitted at least 3 months prior to publication; full companion websites must have material submitted at least 4 months prior to publication.
Development Timeline: The total time for a book's development depends on a number of things; for example, whether it is a first edition or a revised edition, the need to re-review some chapters, more time to make adjustments between reviews, and so on. Typically, for first editions, the development takes 15–18 months and there may be 4–5 batches. For revised editions, development may take 12 months with only 3 batches.
Batch Reviewing: From submission of a batch of chapters to the Development Editor, it will take about 6 to 8 weeks to get a report – this includes the time it takes the Development Editor to identify and retain reviewers; reviewers to read chapters and give feedback; and the Development Editor to collate, analyze, and write a report with summary and recommendations.
Publisher-supplied online resources are an important differentiating feature that influences textbook adoptions and enhances students' learning experience.
Accordingly, during the review process, Development Editors ask for feedback on which online features instructors use on their course or would like to see accompanying the textbook. A website plan is created based on this feedback.
Usually, authors produce the website material, but occasionally, if authors are unable to produce the required website content, freelance content developers can be hired. However, this needs to be agreed upon in advance with the Commissioning Editor and depends on the book's budget.
Website material is normally handed over to the Development Editor after the manuscript has been submitted. All website material must be submitted at the same time. (Please see the Schedules and Deadlines tab for a full schedule.)
Our website team requires three months to copyedit the material and build the site, so material must be submitted at least four months before the book's publication date to ensure that the book and website publish together.
Authors will be able to review their website after it goes live and note minor edits.
To see more extensive samples of website features and full guidelines for creating website content, please visit our Showcase Website. (Please contact your Development Editor for login details.)
The majority of our websites provide material for both instructors and students. Sometimes, specific examples on the website can be tied to website callouts in the margins of the book. Some examples of the types of content often present on a book's site are illustrated here.
After reviewing the final manuscript, the book’s Development Editor will prepare the manuscript package for ‘handover’ to the Production team.
Once handed over to the Production Department, the manuscript will be allocated to a Production Editor whose role it is to manage the production of a list of titles. The Production Editor will contact the author and provide them with a more detailed schedule and description of what to expect over the forthcoming months. With each communication they will provide instructions on what is required and when. These instructions should be followed in order to achieve a smooth process and to ensure that the book is produced on time and to the highest quality.
There are two main routes of Production: The ‘in-house’ route is where a Production Editor project-manages the book and sends it to the Copyeditor, Typesetter, Proofreader and Indexer. The author’s day-to-day contact will be with the Production Editor.
The ‘project managed’ route is where a Production Editor still manages, oversees, and is responsible for the production of the book, but the project management is carried out by one of Taylor and Francis’ trusted Project Management companies who are not based in our offices. The Project Manager will liaise with the Copyeditor, Typesetter, Proofreader and Indexer and report to the Production Editor who will monitor their progress and carry out quality checks. The author’s day-to-day contact will be with the assigned Project Manager, although the Production Editor will always be on-hand if assistance is required. The following schedules are guides to the approximate length of time each process takes from the receipt of the final manuscript into the Production department.
For information on how a book will be marketed prior to and after its publication, and how authors can be involved in its promotion, please visit our Marketing team's website at: https://www.routledge.com/contacts/marketing