The past year, I've been reading a mathematical manuscript from a well-known university on a particular well-known, graduate curriculum subject. The manuscript language is not English. One can imagine a manuscript on, e.g., Algebra in, e.g., Spanish in the form you usually give it to your students before you hand it over to, say, Springer. At a certain point I found myself latexing my comments; now they have a subjectively better quality than the original manuscript, and they can be used as auxiliary material for everyone working with that manuscript. The comments are in English. Today, the manuscript volume is around 300 pages. The comments are around 50 pages, are 90% self-contained, and could be potentially turned into a small booklet. The comments are evolving and growing. The comments do not repeat any manuscript material except the usual stuff such as defining notation and claims which deserved new, better proofs. Subjectively, the students who wish to comprehend the manuscript need such comments or equivalent ones.

I have no time for 100% self-containedness (which would take me a few weeks), not even any time to find a coauthor (which would take me at least a few weeks till infinity). But I do have time to put the booklet into a publishable format, which will take me less than a week.

The author of the manuscript is out of question to be contacted in any way (the reasons therefor are private and cannot be elaborated on here).

Now I learned that the manuscript is in the process of being turned into a book by a well-known research publisher. What would be the best way for me to publish my comments

  1. to get research credit by entires in traditional listings of research papers/journals/books,
  2. to get an ISBN, if possible?

I would like to know whether such auxiliary material is typically accepted by an established research publisher (say, AMS, or Springer, etc.) and, if so, what are the typical conditions. Or, otherwise stated, if it is possible to get it published at the same publisher as that of the manuscript at all or whether I should take another one?

PS. This question contains no personal details in comparison to a previous one, which I deleted.

UPDATE: It is no more my intention to earn a bit from selling. It would be just a moral support to get 1 cent per sold copy, but nothing else.

  • 2
    What do you mean by research credit? Expository books, while great to have, are not research, and do not give "credit" as research. Jun 19, 2016 at 18:33

2 Answers 2


From your description, about the most it sounds like you could do is post your notes online.

Why? Your notes are not self-contained and I haven't seen things like "study guides" published in concordance with graduate texts, which indicates that there's little market. Even if there were some market for this, if you don't have time to make your notes self contained, you likely don't have time to get them in a publishable format either. In any case, the amount of money you would get should be minimal. Grad texts are not a cash cow. I also don't see much advantage in an ISBN, but you could get an arXiv id if you post to the arXiv.

Free online notes can give you just as much if not more "recognition" than publishing, depending on the situation (free notes are easily accessible, hence can get wider distribution). I've done this for some courses I've taught, and while I don't have any measure of how much recognition I'm getting (nor is it that important), sometimes I meet people at conferences or what not and they say nice things about my notes. Conversely, I've gotten a good impression of many young people by coming across some nice notes they've written.

Of course, if you do this, you should make sure to give the author due credit and that you will not be infringing on copyrights. Note that the presentation of material and choice of definitions is a big part of the originality of the author's manuscript. I spend a lot of time thinking about order of presentation when I write notes.


The author of the script is out of question to be contacted in any way.

Under this circumstances you should not contact the publisher since the publisher would almost certainly contact the author and ask for his opinion anyway.

Publishing such notes without contacting the author seems a bit strange to me and I may guess that the author would not be happy to see such a publication without him having been involved. On the other hand, being contacted by somebody who asks "I have written extended notes for your manuscript and would like to ask if you would approve these notes to be published in some way." would be totally ok for me (although I am not sure where this would lead to - but in general I would not be offended in any way (unless somebody would claim something like "I have better proofs and more clear explanations for you incomprehensible gibberish")).

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    My point is, that not contacting will probably also not be good…
    – Dirk
    Jun 20, 2016 at 11:38
  • I guess that any publisher would contact the authors of the manuscript to which you refer.
    – Dirk
    Jun 20, 2016 at 16:43
  • That's too much speculation for me…
    – Dirk
    Jun 21, 2016 at 6:32

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