User:Whiteknight/New Book Guide/The Need

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The Need for a New Book

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Hopefully your decision to create a new book will be mitigated by a specific need here at Wikibooks. Maybe it's a gaping hole in in our coverage of a specific subject ("I can't believe they don't have a calculus book!"), maybe there are many smaller books on the subject that could be effectively merged into a new monolithic book, or maybe there is a book that's so large and sprawling that it needs to be split into smaller books. Also, before you create a new book here, it is a good idea to ensure that the book is actually right for Wikibooks:

  • Is it allowed under policy?
  • Is Wikibooks the best wiki to host this material?
  • Will other people be able to contribute to it?
  • Will other readers be able to understand this subject?

If the answer to all these questions is "yes", Then you are well on your way to being able to start your project.

It is important to make sure that your new book is actually a valuable resource. We may not currently have a book about "How to alphabetically arrange your wine bottle collection", but do we really need a book on that topic to begin with?

Finally, is this information that you are willing to write about—in large quantities—for a period of weeks, months, or even years? A Wikibook is a large project, and creating a good Wikibook requires strong drive, direction, and countless contributions from yourself and other users. A new Wikibook is a big deal, and you shouldn't start a new book if you aren't willing to invest the necessary time and energy into it.

Target Audience

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Implicitly, if there is a need for your book, then there is somebody who needs it. This vague somebody is your target audience, and is who you are writing your book for. Because you are writing a textbook, your target audience will most likely be school students. However, even under the banner of "school students" there are a number of different classifications that are worth considering. Students can be separated by age: young children (the target audience of Wikijunior), Highschool students, University Students, and Professionals (The target audience of Wikiprofessional). Some subjects are not conducive to certain target audience, in the same way that certain styles of writing are not good for a target audience. For instance, we aren't going to attempt to teach young children about "SPARC Assembly Programming". We also aren't going to try and write a children's book using big words and complicated sentences.

Rule: Use templates like {{Reading level}} on your book to give important information like this

Under the sub-heading of "University Students" also, there is a difference between different types of students. There is a distinct difference in the way a single subject can be taught between different groups of students: Statistics is taught differently between business majors (where it is taught predominantly using algebra), and mathematics students (where it is taught predominantly using calculus). Engineers generally like to learn the bottom line, while mathematicians might prefer to learn the derivations and proofs.

When considering this, there are multiple ways to go about creating a new book for your subject. Either you can make a book tailored specifically towards a single target audience ("Statistics for Mathematicians"), or you can make a single book ("Statistics") That will consider the topic from multiple angles. For instance, you can separate the book into 2 distinct sections (one for business readers, and one for mathematics readers), or you can separate each individual page into the different sections (one section for the algebraic formulas and results, and a bottom section for the calculus derivations). I generally prefer the last option, where we can write a single book, and separate out the individual pages into the "basic concepts" and "Advanced concepts" topics. This way, everybody can read (and contribute to) the same book, but people can pick and choose which sections to read for themselves.

In general, when we consider that the book at large can be created without considering the target audience, and that the sub-pages are created with consideration for the target audience, you the creator don't need to worry about audience until after the book is introduced. Knowing however that there is a disparity between the different types of information, it is a good idea to consider different methodologies for a particular subject when you are doing your research for the book.


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Do not hesitate to lay down a set of necessary prerequisites that your readers must have before they attempt to read your book. Requiring a standard background among all readers makes the job of the author easier: no need to review necessary material, and no need to define common terms. When possible, link to other Wikibooks that cover the necessary material. Also, if the prerequisites of your book change as the narrative progresses (progressively harder mathematics, for instance), don't hesitate to mention that students need to refresh a particular subject before continuing on.

Rule: Use {{Prerequisite}} and {{Corequisite}} to show where your book lies in the learning hierarchy

On a related note, mention precisely what your book serves as a prerequisite for. That is, if your book sets a student up to read another more advanced book, you should mention that. If there are no other books available here on Wikibooks you can point the reader to external references for a continued study. As an author, you should also consider authoring the more advanced book, if one does not exist.