Book websites are a great way to share information about your book and help readers decide whether they want to purchase or download it. Having a stable URL to share with potential readers can be helpful as you market your book. We also use book websites to share supplemental resources with readers—these materials can extend their use of and interactions with a book. We build and host a website for each book in our two book series, but even if you aren’t writing for our series, here are some suggestions on what you could include on a site for your book.

Our book websites contain:

  • summaries of the book and each chapter
  • author bios and photos
  • links to download or purchase the book
  • promotional blurbs and quotes from book reviews
  • a group reading guide with discussion questions for the book
  • open access supplemental resources (described below)

This last category, supplemental resources, vary from book to book, based on what we think would be useful to readers. We have two main purposes for these resources:

  • To facilitate use of the books in reading groups or courses
  • To support readers’ reflection and application of the ideas in the books to their own context

Supplemental resources required for our book series

To achieve the first goal above, we require all authors/editors to provide chapter summaries and discussion questions for each chapter, as well as a set of overarching discussion questions for the whole book. Ideally, there will be 3-5 questions per chapter and up to 10 for the whole book. Open-ended questions allow readers to reflect on what they’ve read and begin to make connections to their own work and institution, without moving straight to implementation. For example, a question for Pedagogical Partnerships asks, “Why might you want to develop a pedagogical partnership program? In what ways would such a program be in keeping with the campus culture and in what ways might it be countercultural?” This question allows for discussion around the ideas in the book and how these ideas might work in the readers’ context, but doesn’t ask readers to start thinking through the extensive logistics of a particular program. Great discussion questions also allow readers from all groups to participate in the discussion, rather than just those with a particular job (faculty/staff/student) or at a particular type of institution. 

Ideas for additional supplemental resources

Beyond these required supplemental resources, we encourage authors and editors to think carefully about what will be useful for your readers. Many of these resources fulfill our second goal of helping readers apply the ideas in the book to their own contexts. Some books have many resources (Pedagogical Partnerships has a whopping 34!); some have fewer. There’s no magic target number; instead authors and editors should think about what will help readers engage with and apply their work. Some ideas:

Handouts, lesson plans, worksheets, activities

Although we don’t want discussion questions to move quickly into implementation, handouts, checklists, activities, and other materials that focus on implementation are great to include as additional supplemental resources. Some of the most popular supplementals for Pedagogical Partnerships include “Checklist for Developing a Pedagogical Partnerships” and “Mapping Classroom Interactions,” which focus on implementation. 

Lesson plans and curricular materials are an incredibly useful resource to share with your readers. This example from Mind the Gap provides writing prompts for assessing intercultural competence in students.

Data, tables, and charts

If you think that your data would be useful for readers, either to be examined more closely or to be used for their own analysis, you can make it available as a supplemental resource.

Survey, interview, or focus group questions

This type of material from your research can be extremely useful for readers who may want to replicate research at their own institution or adapt the questions for their own project.

Reading lists or annotated bibliographies

If you want to direct your readers to additional resources, you may consider creating a reading list as a supplemental resource. The authors of Writing about Learning and Teaching created a list of blogs and multimedia resources about teaching and learning in higher education.

Additional content

Books have strict word count limits. Your contract probably stipulates a word count, and it’s important that you keep to it. If you have additional content that you think might be helpful for some readers, but is slightly tangential, consider providing it as a supplemental resource. An example is Pedagogical Partnerships’s story of “How the SaLT Program Got Started.”

Formatting your supplemental resources 

As you build your book website, always keep in mind what format would make your supplemental resources most accessible for your readers.  Some resources might become webpages on the book website, while others may be better as a downloadable file (especially if it’s something your reader might want to edit and use themselves).  Sometimes the content of our supplemental resources appears in both the book and as a supplemental resource. If you think readers would appreciate an easy-to-download file of any sections of your book, you may consider making it a supplemental resource. A great example is the set of guiding questions for writing in 12 genres from Writing about Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, which appear in the book as well as in easy-to-download format as a supplemental resource. Of course, you will need to get approval from your publisher to reproduce any part of your book for free download.

Submitting the supplemental resources for CEL books

We ask authors and editors in our book series to submit a preliminary list of supplemental resources during the proposal stage. Once a book has been accepted for publication, we work with authors to refine this list, which is then included in the contract for the book. The contract will stipulate a due date for supplementals, generally about 3 months after the submission of the manuscript.

We don’t have stringent submission guidelines for formatting the resources, but please try to label each file with the title of the resource and the chapter(s) that it relates to. We will copy edit each resource and decide what format would be most usable for the reader, then start to build your book website!

As always, we are ready to help the authors and editors in our book series to craft supplemental resources that will enrich and extend your book’s impact.

Jennie Goforth is the Center for Engaged Learning’s Managing Editor. She works with authors to shepherd their work from proposal through production in the Center’s Open Access Book Series. She also manages production of book websites and supplemental materials for the Stylus Publishing/Center for Engaged Learning Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching.

How to cite this post

Goforth, Jennie. 2021, December 21. “Academic Book Publishing: Book Websites and Supplemental Resources” [Blog Post]. Retrieved from