Reflection on Project Mentoring Student Authors

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I am wrapping up the project I started a year ago when I approached a small group of science students and asked them if they would like to learn to write a book. Each of them was doing a special research project, so they had ample material to write about. I had just finished my own first book, and I explained to them that I could show them the steps to write and self publish their own books. I ended up with three dedicated students, all of whom have now published their own books. Each is unique, and all are interesting:

Schwartz coverJen Schwartz published On the Right Track: A Student’s Memoir of Research, Advancement, and Holding on to Hope (Click title to buy this book)

Diorio coverJohn Diorio published Broadening the High School Experience:A Student’s Perspective on Independent Exploration (Click title to buy this book)

A Familiar Fin coverAlexandra DiGiacomo published A Familiar Fin (Click title to buy this book)

 

 

This was a pilot project for me, so I am assessing how it went and how to improve it when I do it again. What worked well were the overall plan I used, and getting the student authors to work together. Some things to improve:

  1. The students liked collaborating and sharing their work with one another, but the time was difficult to find to do this often–next time, I will plan more time for mutual editing and reviewing.
  2. The review process, especially around the final copy editing, broke down somewhat, and I had little idea how the students were doing. We needed a day, probably a weekend, when we could have all worked in a room and gone over formatting for publication.
  3. Book marketing, crucial to the success of any author, but especially self published authors, has tapered off with the end of the project. Successful authors will market their books before and especially after publication. Because we ended the project at the end of the school year, we could not easily work together to push marketing after publication. More planning and an agreement on what to do ahead of time would have helped.

Therefore, while the project was successful overall, I have many things I plan to do better next time. I documented our experience and made a step-by-step how to guide for teachers and mentors, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self Published Author (click to purchase in paperback or ebook). I would love to hear from other teachers and mentors about your thoughts.

Start Mentoring Your Students to Write and Publish Books Today

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Originally posted on Bryan Holmes, STEM Teacher:

This ebook is only $.99 until June 6th as a Kindle Countdown deal This ebook is only $.99 until June 6th as a Kindle Countdown deal

Now is a great time to start a special project with students who can work through the summer and through next school year writing and self-publishing their own books. Why now? I found in mentoring three of my own students that the summer provided the ideal time to draft their books. Drafting an entire book takes weeks, and it requires few distractions–the school year is too busy for this. Therefore, by meeting your students now, setting up a schedule for the project, and assigning the first few tasks before the school year ends will allow them to get started and draft their books over the summer break.

My book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self-Published Author, is just released and available in paperback and ebook. If you would like to…

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Start Mentoring Your Students to Write and Publish Books Today

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This ebook is only $.99 until June 6th as a Kindle Countdown deal

This ebook is only $.99 until June 6th as a Kindle Countdown deal

Now is a great time to start a special project with students who can work through the summer and through next school year writing and self-publishing their own books. Why now? I found in mentoring three of my own students that the summer provided the ideal time to draft their books. Drafting an entire book takes weeks, and it requires few distractions–the school year is too busy for this. Therefore, by meeting your students now, setting up a schedule for the project, and assigning the first few tasks before the school year ends will allow them to get started and draft their books over the summer break.

My book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self-Published Author, is just released and available in paperback and ebook. If you would like to duplicate this project with a group of students, this book is the how-to guide that will give you everything you need to start. It is filled with free links, templates, checklists, and other resources so you only need to set up the meetings and use the book to follow a step-by-step approach to get your students published. One copy is sufficient for a teacher and a group of students–you can share the content with the group.

The ebook is on a Kindle Countdown deal and listed for only $.99 until June 6th. It is free at all times if you are in the Kindle Unlimited program. Click HERE to go to Amazon.com and purchase a copy. Get started with your students this week.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I mentored three high school science students to become published authors by June 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit. Use my book for your project – you can read an excerpt and buy it at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com/books/.

Celebrating Success – Student Authors Host Book Release Party

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Celebratory Cookies Made This Book Release Party Extra Special

Celebratory Cookies Made This Book Release Party Extra Special

On Sunday, May 17, Jennifer Lee Schwartz and John Diorio celebrated their success at completing a one-year project to write and self-publish a book on their science research experience. They hosted an event at the town library where they invited family and friends, discussed their books, and signed them for people. I attended and joined in congratulating them. For me, as their teacher and mentor through this project, today was a validation that it can work. Jennifer and John are my first two student authors, and they have helped me see what works and what does not in helping students write and self-publish.

Student authors, Jennifer Lee Schwartz and John Diorio, sign copies of their books

Student authors, Jennifer Lee Schwartz and John Diorio, sign copies of their books

My book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self-Published Author, is also just released and available in paperback and ebook. If you would like to duplicate this project with a group of students, this is a great time to start, as it gives the students the summer to do their writing of the first draft. Contact me if you have questions.

My next post will have more about my students’ experiences publishing their books.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by June 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

One Way to Put the “A” in STEAM – Have Your STEM Students Write a Book

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Creating Student Authors ebook cover

Step-by-step how-to guide for teachers and mentors of student authors

I have been a science and engineering teacher for ten years, and I am always looking for ways to improve my students’ learning experiences. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has become a hot topic in education – we need more students majoring in STEM fields, according to many, including President Obama. Many also advocate that a richer STEM education is when Art is added to the list, making it STEAM. So how can a STEM teacher add some sort of art project  to his or her curriculum? Many of us appreciate what art can bring to any classroom, but we don’t want our students’  effort to degrade into an cut-and-paste activity or something similarly simplistic. I piloted a project for the past year, and I think it is one option that can work well and is far from simplistic: Have your students write a book about their STEM experience.

I started the project last May by talking with a few outstanding science students who were each pursuing some sort of independent research. They were at the end of their sophomore year, and I asked them how they would like it if I guided them through the process to write and self-publish a book about their research experience. I had just self-published my first book, so I was familiar with all the steps required to bring a book to publication. They all agreed, and we started. We followed a Project Schedule I laid out. We also followed the steps of an author hoping to traditionally publish, writing to a target audience and going through several phases of editing and revising. We set a goal to publish by this April, and all three of the students that have stayed on the project are close to meeting that goal. The first to publish, Jennifer Lee Schwartz, released her book last week: On the Right Track: A Student’s Memoir of Research, Advancement, and Holding on to Hope. The other two students will be releasing their books soon.

The experience these students have gained by writing their own books is both broad and deep. Over the past year, along with actually writing a book, they have learned how to write a book proposal, work in a writing critique circle, coordinate with beta readers, copy editors, and cover designers, and blog about their book project. They also attended a writers conference, and they set up a booth to explain their project at our state science teachers conference. In the end, these students have learned a deep lesson in how to communicate about STEM. Along the way, I documented our steps and the checklists, templates, and other resources we used. All of this is available in my book: Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self-Published Author. Let me know if you plan to do this project in your school – I would be happy to help in any way I can.

My next post will be about my students’ experiences publishing their books.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by June 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Student Author Successfully Finishes One-Year Project to Publish Her Book

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Schwartz cover

Jennifer Lee Schwartz, student author, self-publishes her first book.

In this blog, I am sharing how I am mentoring a group of high school science students to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April-June 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

I have been working with a group of students for one year now on this project. We started with a couple meetings last May. Now I have three students who have stuck with me through the year and are publishing their books. The first student to successfully finish and publish is Jennifer Lee Schwartz. Her book, available now in paperback, and soon in ebook, is On the Right Track: A Student’s Memoir of Research, Advancement, and Holding on to Hope.

Jennifer followed the process I laid out, and she improved on it by finding people who provided copy editing and helped make her book cover. She followed up on contacts we made back in November at the Ridgefield Writers Conference, and they helped her produce a professional quality book. As her mentor, I could not be more impressed.

If you are a teacher who likes to explore new ways to challenge your students, this project is perfect for you – and now is the perfect time to start. Use my Project Schedule to get started. You can access all the templates, checklists, and other materials at my Resources page. To get a complete description and step-by-step instructions, get my book, Creating Student Authors, to use with your students – one copy will be enough to work with a class or group. The paperback has QRCs at the end of each chapter so you or your students can scan them and instantly get the necessary templates and checklists right on your smartphone or tablet. If you prefer the ebook, it has hyperlinks to do the same thing. I would appreciate your feedback on either format. Good luck!

My next post will be more about my students’ experiences publishing their books.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April-June 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

A Review of Self-Publishing a Book Using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

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Creating Student Authors ebook cover

Ebook Cover Made Using KDP Cover Creator

In this blog, I am sharing how I am mentoring a group of high school science students to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April-June 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

As my students prepare to self-publish their books, I also am self-publishing a book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self-Published Author. It gives my students an example to follow, and it gives other teachers the tools to mentor their students. I asked my students to produce both paperback and ebook formats, and I did the same for this book. I reviewed my experience making the paperback format last week. Having just finished the ebook conversion, here is a review of my experience using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

What is KDP? It is Amazon’s publishing firm for ebook, specifically in Kindle format. You pay nothing. You submit a file of your book using Microsoft Word or PDF (portable document format), and KDP makes it into a Kindle file. You also upload a cover, or make one using their free “Cover Creator” service. You choose pricing and distribution channels, and they show you what your royalties will be in each one. When you finally submit your book to be published, it will appear only in online retail channels, such as amazon.com. Even though it is in Kindle format, it can be read on any smartphone, tablet, or computer that downloads and uses the free Kindle app. This last point is important to publicize, as many people may not have a Kindle device, but they can still read your ebook.

I made the paperback version of my book first, then converted that file to ebook format. For the paperback, I made a “Book Template for Students” that has all the pagination and blocking for a 6×9 inch book, the standard size offered by CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand paperback publishing firm. I wrote my book using this template, then converted it to PDF and uploaded it to CreateSpace for publishing. I used the original Word file from this paperback as the starting point for the ebook. I downloaded KDP’s free guide, Building Your Book for Kindle, available in Windows or Mac format, to convert the paperback file into the ebook file. The guide is clear, but the process of conversion is tedious, sometimes requiring you to go paragraph by paragraph to reformat things. It took me over three hours to convert a short book of about ninety pages. Plan for it to take longer for students who have never done it before.

The next step is to submit your book in KDP for their internal review prior to publishing. You need to establish a log in account with Amazon, then set up your title as a project in the kdp.amazon.com website. If you already use Amazon for shopping, you will use the same log in for KDP. Once you are into KDP, follow their step-by-step instructions. I found these straightforward, and KDP offers free help through email. You can also either upload your cover file, or make your own for free using KDP’s Cover Creator. I used this second option, and I was happy with the result. After you upload your book file, preview it on every type of reader–KDP has a virtual version of each, so check each one to be sure your book looks good in each. You can download my “Self-Publishing Checklist for Amazon” that goes through this entire process.

If you want to have a complete set of directions to mentor your students, then look for my book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Anyone to Be a Published Author. It is available in paperback on createspace.com and in ebook on amazon.com, plus other distribution channels within the next few weeks. Profits will benefit Ridgefield Public Schools and Newington Public Schools in Connecticut.

My next post will be about my students’ experiences publishing their books.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April-June 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.