McGraw-Hill, Reviewers and the Final Manuscript

In last weeks post, I mentioned that I had made a trip to New York to meet with McGraw-Hill. I had already planned a trip to Philadelphia for the A-B Automation Fair, so I made a grand tour of the area visiting Baltimore, Atlantic City and NYC over a 6-day period.

I got more out of visiting the publisher than I could have simply e-mailing back and forth. Their offices are in the Rockefeller Center complex and we met in a conference room with a number of books similar to the format that my book will be. The first thing that hit me when looking at these books was that all of the pictures were black and white. This created a dilemma since many of my pictures and tables use color to help explain concepts. Light stacks and yellow safety devices, tables with red, yellow and green backgrounds related to safety, resistor and thermocouple color codes, you get the picture. The production manager explained that the cost was too high to print books in full color, but sometimes color inserts could be put in the middle of a book if needed. After looking at the pictures and tables after I got back I decided that there were other ways to explain the colors in text and I really didn’t have much choice anyway.

The other thing I realized when looking at these other books was, like it or not, the book is a textbook. I had always somehow hoped that this could be the kind of book that you could just go down to the bookstore and buy. After all, I have seen books in the McGraw-Hill Professional Series on the shelf there. It turns out those books are all quite old and are in their 3rd or 4th reprint. I guess right when a book comes out it is primarily sold online or in college bookstores as part of a class.

I asked about the process of editing, when the book was expected to be published and the cost. The editing process is done one chapter at a time, inserting pictures and laying out the pages. Much of it is done in India unless major rewriting is required in which case it is done here. The publishing date is scheduled for April, though various things can delay the book if things need to be changed. They didn’t know what the cost was yet but I ended up finding out later in an odd way…

While doing some of my online research after I got back I typed in “Industrial Automation Hands On” and got a couple of surprises. One was that there is a website with that exact name already. They also have a facebook page. I mentioned that to the editor and he sounded like they are not going to change the title of the book and it should be no problem. The other surprise was that McGraw-Hill has already posted the book as being out soon here. This was another shock to me as the book price is listed at $110.95. I had thought friends and colleages would be able to pick this up for at most 30 or 40 bucks in their local bookstore just like a “For Dummies” book but alas it is not so. This is where it really hit home that this is a textbook. Of course in college I was used to paying hundreds of dollars for textbooks, but in that scenario you are forced to. The only book I have bought for over $100 since college was Machinery’s handbook.

Of course there are coupons and other methods of buying the book at a less expensive price. I get the book at 40% off though I am prohibited from competing directly with bookstores in the contract. It appears that my best method of marketing/selling the book is to try and get it into a curriculum at some college. Maybe places like DeVry and ITT… There may also be some people that would benefit enough from the book that they would pay for it, I am just not sure that most of the colleagues I have worked with would pay over $100 for ANY book. I guess I will find out. After all, there were books on ” Karst Formations in the Appalachian Range” for that price as well as other technical books related to the engineering field. Someone must buy them…

About the status of the book: I have to turn in the final manuscript before tomorrow. I have spent this weekend doing lots of last minute editing and will then break the manuscript apart into its separate chapters and appendices and sent them out. Despite what McGraw-Hill’s website says, the book will probably be closer to 500 pages once all of the tables and pictures have been put in.

I have gotten almost all of the reviews back. When I sent the manuscript out to the 14 technical reviewers it was about 80,000 words or so; it is now over 110,000. I have made various changes at the request of the reviewers and also added quite a bit more content on my own. I would like to mention five reviewers in particular that really provided a lot of great advice:

Jeff Buck, PE – Electrical and Mechanical Engineer, VP Engineering, Automation nth. Lots of great insight on safety, automation basics, numbering systems, pneumatics and general content.

Tony Bauer, Software Developer, factorysoftwareblog.org. Excellent input on communication protocols, pneumatics, electrical components, motors, standards and compliance. Tony comments here regularly and made a lot of good suggestions for additional topics in the book including clean rooms, ESD, network security and expanding the vendor list.

Jason Gill, Industrial Engineer and Six-Sigma Black Belt, Lean Six-Sigma manager at Mayekawa USA. Extensive review and suggestions in the entire business and Lean Manufacturing section of the book. Also provided content on welding and software.

Bill Martin, President, Martin Business Consulting. Insight on quality management and in particular a controversial aspect of OEE calculation concerning operator responsibility for downtime during Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT).

Charlie Thi Rose, Mechanical Engineer, President, C.T. Rose Enterprises. Overall proofreading of the entire manuscript. Even after several sets of eyes being used in multiple edits, Charlie still found a fair number of grammatical and technical errors.

Several other reviewers provided good content and advice in various sections of the book. I know this took a lot of time for some very busy people and I truly appreciate the effort that everyone made.

Overall I am pretty happy with the final manuscript. There are a lot of other topics I would have liked to cover and could probably easily spend another six months editing and improving, but a line had to be drawn somewhere. It will be interesting to see what M-H will want to change.

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2 comments on “McGraw-Hill, Reviewers and the Final Manuscript
  1. Tony says:

    I thought “textbook” when I was doing my review. Look at the bright side: if students really do read the book, they should be better prepared to deal with real world automation.

    Apparently, it’s only profitable to publish textbooks about many industrial automation topics. I’ve only found one non-textbook about PLC’s, and most books on industrial robotics are textbooks.

    Non-students should be able to get more affordable prices by being patient: eventually, the used student books are going to reach Amazon and eBay. I use the patient approach for programing books I’m interested in, but don’t need right now. For example, I’m waiting for the price to go down on Real World Functional Programming on Amazon or for Half Price Books to have a sale.

  2. Tony says:

    I saw a link to this book on packaging automation, and noticed the semi-affordable price ($45 e-book, $70 paper). So I checked, and yep, the author is self-publishing. I wonder how many he will sell…it does look interesting to me.

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