The ELT materials writing collection

Over the last couple of years, the blog has covered a lot of topics of interest to ELT authors so we thought it might be useful to look back at them and collect them all in one place.

The changing role of the author

In an industry that’s undergoing so many changes, it’s no surprise this has been a frequent topic.

Steve Elsworth’s post asks if a team of publishers could have come up with the million dollar grossing Slade hit you hear every Christmas. Despite recent changes, he sees a place for the writer and looks at what digital means for the next wave of changes to the author role.

Will there be a new best-selling smash digital ELT product? Yes, but it won’t be originated by the mainstream publishers. Encyclopaedia Britannica didn’t invent Wikipedia. Yellow Pages didn’t come up with Google. The first best-selling digital ELT smash will be produced by a Zuckerberg, not in a boardroom.

Steve’s post inspired publisher Janet Aitchison to reassure writers that there is still a place for them.

Not all publishers think there is no place for writers in the digital future. The writers’ role and the means of remuneration will be different from what it was in the heyday of ELT publishing, no doubt, but any publisher worth their salt knows that however clever the software, however many bells and whistles it has, without well-written, motivating, fun content, students will not engage and will therefore not succeed.

A post by Nicola Prentis talked about whether authors should call themselves content creators or not. And then there was Nick’s post asking if the brand is bigger than the author in ELT. Nik White asked whether authors are collaborators or contractors, which was a response to another post by Nicola on the implication of the role changes on royalties vs fee-based projects. Nick had earlier written a piece about fee-based work, wondering if it involved more risks to the author than the gamble that comes with royalties-based projects.

It’s a rich seam for debate and we wonder what the coming year will bring for authors as they branch out into things like app developing. We’d love to hear from anyone who’s got a story to tell about their journey from past to present ELT.

Advice for authors

For those just starting out in digital writing, we have advice from Nick Robinson and Laurie Harrison, and a post on the skillset needed to be good at it from John Hughes. We had a couple of queries in through the Dear ELTjam series that addressed author issues, from chasing up old contacts to using authoring tools to navigating the publishers’ working calendar for freelancers.

We started a series showcasing ELT books that have been self-published or put out through a small press. Support the writers who are trying something a little bit different from the mainstream publishers and check out their titles! The next post in this series is slated for September, so if you have anything to contribute, check out one of the posts for how to get featured. And here are two posts by Nick Robinson with advice for self-publishing.


This post on why people are stealing your stuff blew up into a fascinating debate and inspired a reply post from Mike Boyle about what publishers and authors can do in the face of piracy. As far as we know, no-one has come up with much that’s new on this topic so we’d love to hear from anyone who’s successfully fighting piracy of their stuff — whether an individual or someone who works in publishing and this is their job.

Check out the collections of posts for ELT teachers and ELT publishing people.



1 thought on “The ELT materials writing collection”

  1. I think that all writers need is the ability to see technology as an opportunity. Online delivery has plenty of ‘cons’, but it also has incredible potential which is not being fully utilized by anyone (in my mind!). ELT authors have as much of a role in pushing forward the boundaries of what can be achieved via online English learning as anyone else in the process. The authors who can see these advantages, and who are willing to be creative about how to realize this potential, have a great future ahead!

    In fact, I think its publishers, not writers, who will eventually be put on the back foot by technology.


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