I gave a talk at the Computers and Writing Conference at UC-Davis in 2009 with Nick Carbone about textbooks– my failed project, Nick’s perspective from St. Martin’s, etc.– and one of the things I talked about then was the two kinds of “capital” that comes from publishing. There’s capital as in “money,” and, there is definitely more of that with textbooks than there is with traditional academic publishing. Though one thing that I definitely learned from working on a textbook is that doing it for the money is not a good strategy. If I calculated my earnings based on an hourly wage, I’d say I would have done a lot better financially getting a part-time job at Starbucks.
Anyway, then there’s capital as in “academic credits” of various sorts, usually in the form of a CV entry. As I pointed out in Davis, my talk there about my failed textbook was an example of that, and I’m happy to report two more of these more nebulous and abstract forms of capital. The first is I have a chapter in volume 2 of Writing Spaces called “On the Other Hand: The Role of Antithetical Writing in First Year Composition Courses.” Basically, it’s a revised and repurposed version of a chapter in The Process of Research Writing on the antithesis exercise, which I personally still think is one of the better ideas I had for that book.
The second is a project that is a little more tricky for me to describe on the CV. Out of the blue, I was contacted about the online version of my book from Eleven Learning, which is a tech start-up in Boston (I think) that has a pretty sweet interface for online books. I’m not sure what the future of this operation is likely to be or even what is at stake with them right now, but I think it’s a great idea. Even if I can’t put it on a CV.
I guess the moral of the story is that even “dead” projects can have another life.