publishing textbooks

An exciting development

That I can’t really tell you about yet

Textbook teaser


But more details soon. Soon!

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Three things

A new type of post for you today: the roundup.

shopping list


I had a short op-ed piece on language teaching published in the TESL Ontario magazine, Contact. It’s on p.51 and the index is clickable 🙂

Last week saw the beginning of a new project: Retire Japan. It’s a website, blog, and Facebook page that provides information about saving, investing, and ultimately retiring in Japan for long-term residents. I’ll be doing all my financial writing over there from now on, so please like the FB page or subscribe to the newsletter if you are interested.

My university is looking for university teachers to contribute a chapter to a book aimed at new university faculty and offering advice about work/life balance, getting off to a good start at university, etc. If you are interested in writing around 4 A4 pages in English or Japanese for this project please drop me a line.

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Creating new teaching material

This semester I am working on a new presentation textbook for my classes here at Tohoku University (okay, so I am also hoping I will be able to sell it to a publisher eventually too), and thought it might be interesting to write a little about how that is turning out. Experienced material developers probably won’t get much out of this, but if you are just starting out like I am, or have yet to start, you might find something useful.


My desk at work. Note the all-important coffee cup and blank notebook -I find it really helpful to explore ideas on paper before starting work on the computer.

For my presentation course, I was provided with some fairly rigid constraints: too many students (one class of 32 and one of 25), too few classes (maximum of 14, more like 13 once the first one is used up for orientation), and a not-quite perfect classroom (it’s a little too small for group work). However, this is actually helpful, as it provides space in which to work. Having complete free reign paralyses me.

My project is very much a work in progress at the moment, but here are the major steps so far:

  1. determine the goals of the course
  2. decide on topics to include, and the order to teach them in
  3. establish a class routine
  4. figure out what materials to create for each class
  5. write the materials
  6. scribble over the materials in red pen after class with corrections and ideas

I have realised those four elements in bold are the foundation of a class, and getting them straight is probably 90% of the work. Now that they are done, and in great contrast to previous courses I have designed, it’s pretty easy to sit down each week and plan my classes.

Right now I am mainly trying to get the content and the activities right, and not worrying too much about design.

Has anyone successfully completed a project like this? Am I missing anything?

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Self-publishing on Kindle

amazon logo

Last weekend I did something I have been meaning to do for a long time: I sat down and wrote a short book, edited and formatted it, and published it on Kindle through Amazon.

It really was that easy.

The process is extremely clear and Amazon has several tutorials to walk you through how to sign up, format your work, and upload it to the site. Once you have finished they check it (takes 12-48 hours) and then it goes live and people rush to buy it… or not, in my case 🙂

The book(let) is called Air Miles and Hotel Points in Japan, and it’s available free in any Amazon Kindle store worldwide for the next 24 hours or so. Please check it out if you are interested, and if you are feeling particularly generous you could leave an honest review.

The thing is, if you have been sitting on an idea for a novel or a non-fiction book, why not go ahead and put it out there? I’ll be happy to help if you have any questions.