Approaching Publication – Final Guidance for Student Authors

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Final Steps to Getting Published (Bryan Holmes)

Final Steps to Getting Published (Bryan Holmes)

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/May 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

I have had meetings with my students over the past week, and they are almost ready to publish their books. They are getting back their marked up manuscripts from copy editors, they are coordinating the publication release event, and they are gearing up their marketing efforts. The challenge for me is to help them without being overbearing so that they get published in a timely manner.

Finishing up editing is the first of the final steps to publication. Using the Chicago Manual of Style, the copy editor will have marked up the draft manuscript. Now my students must go over each recommended edit and either accept or reject it. Formatting or grammatical edits should almost always be accepted. If the copy editor strays into content editing, the author may want to reject the recommendation. Whatever the case, the corrected draft manuscript, with copy edits incorporated, must be read through for coherence one more time. This can be tedious, but it’s an essential step to ensure the book reads clearly. Finally, the book must be formatted for upload into Amazon’s CreateSpace (paperback format) and Kindle Direct Publishing (ebook format). See my Self-Publishing Checklist for Amazon for this process.

Picking the publication release date and venue is the next important step to finalize publishing. As a self published author, you are in charge of when your book comes out–so don’t surprise yourself and publish it before you are ready. Schedule a venue, invite the people you want to be there, and market the event as something special. Two of my students, John Diorio and Jen Schwartz, are working with the Ridgefield Library and tentatively have set up May 9th, a Saturday, to hold their release event. Alexandra DiGiacomo is looking to release her children’s book in an elementary school, possibly by late April. All three are in the final stages of coordination, so watch here for a confirmation of details.

Finally, keep marketing and build excitement for the publication release. All three of these students are planning events where they can promote their books immediately after they come out. Each has a different target audience, so each has a different marketing plan. Setting up a book signing is typically the least effective way to promote a book, especially if you are unknown. Therefore, these students are seeking to promote in places where their target audience already is. In other words, they are bringing their books to potential customers, not hoping for customers to come to them. Use my Marketing Checklist for Authors to start your marketing plan.

My next post will be more about the preparation for publication release.

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/May 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Helping Student Authors Get Published – Copy Editing Options

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Image courtesy of www.proofreading.ca

Image courtesy of http://www.proofreading.ca

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 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

My students are nearing the end of a nine month process to produce their books. They have gotten excellent feedback from beta readers, and they are using those inputs to produce their final drafts. Now they need to make their books professional looking by getting them properly copy edited. We discussed using a commercial copy editing service, but for different reasons, the students did not want to go that route. What other options are there?

One option is not bother with copy editing. Many self published authors go this route, as they believe they can do the final editing themselves. This is a bad option. As any writer knows, the more you look at your own draft, the harder it is to see any mistakes. Even if your attention to detail is excellent, it is unlikely you will catch all of the errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, let alone other errors in formatting, as required by the Chicago Manual of Style, the copy editing bible.

Another option that my students are pursuing is to get another writer’s help to do the copy editing. We had attended a local writers’ conference in the fall, and my students met several writers–some professional, and some in college pursuing a writing major. My students followed up with these writers, and some have helped with beta reviews, and some with copy editing. These writers are highly qualified to do this work, and I expect their copy edits to be professional quality.

Our last step to get ready for publication will be to hold a session to do a final review, then format our books for publication on Amazon. Even with good copy editing, there will be formatting that needs to be done to make a paperback, then to make an ebook. You can use my Self Publishing Checklist for Amazon as a resource to do these last formatting changes.

My next post will be more about the preparation for publication release.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly 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 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Clearly Tell a Story in Your Book — and Don’t Muddle It during Editing

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StoryIn 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 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

My students are getting beta reader feedback on their books. Some beta readers have given detailed comments, while others have given broad, overall critiques. It can be tempting to overreact to these comments and make major changes to the book. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember the story you intend to tell in the book and to preserve, and possibly improve, the story as you edit the book.

One of my students’ beta readers gave excellent advice—choose the story you are telling and make the book consistently tell that story. When he reviewed her book, he saw a few different stories contending with one another. He recommended that she pick one of those stories, then focus on it throughout the book. As he told her, every book tells a story, even a non-fiction book. The more clear and compelling the story, the more readers are hooked. But muddling or mixing several stories in a book confuses readers.

I recently read Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, the founder of Pixar. Pixar has been a groundbreaking company that produced the first 3D computer animated movie, Toy Story, and went on to produce a succession of other hugely successful movies—in fact, they have never had a flop in their twenty years of movie making. Catmull explains his management philosophy that led to his company’s success. His first principle is that “Story is King.” By this, he explains, the company ensures that the storyline of a movie is strong and not compromised by the technology, marketing, or any other consideration. By focusing on the story first and foremost, they have succeeded in making a string of hit movies. I think an author has to have a similar focus.

This may seem obvious, but in today’s book publishing environment, it would be easy to get distracted by various considerations to make a hit book, while losing focus on the story. In fact, I just heard about a new author who is holding a contest that encourages readers to comment on her book on social media and promises to use the most prolific commenter as a character in her next book. This may work out well, but it could also lead to a compromise in the story to incorporate this new character. Therefore, as my students and I go through the final stages of beta reader feedback and edits, then copy editing, we will stay focused on the story being told in each book.

My next post will be more about the preparation for publication release.

Subscribe to this blog athttps://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly 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 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Project Schedule to Publish a Book – What’s Worked and What Hasn’t

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Schedule page imageIn 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 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

Mentoring a group of high school students is always challenging, but also rewarding. In setting up this project last spring, I gave the students a Project Schedule to meet with the understanding that we could change milestones as we progressed. With about two thirds of the time gone by, I can tell what worked and what did not work out as planned. If you plan to do a similar project, this assessment could be helpful to you.

What worked as planned? The basic approach we have followed and the time given for each stage of the project have been about right. Also, having the students draft their books over the summer was definitely the best way to do this, as they have very little time for the project during the school year. I think the only other way that they could find the time to write during the school year would be if the project was part of a class. We are doing the project outside of class as an extracurricular activity, and the students are already overloaded with other activities. Finding time to do anything extra is a huge challenge.

What has not worked as planned? The biggest challenge I am seeing with the students is to find the time to finalize their draft books after the beta reader feedback and to prepare their books for copy editing. These tasks require hours of careful line by line analysis of the text. I had hoped for them to do this over the winter break, but the students were too busy. I tried to hold an after school meeting, but it was unproductive. What I need to do is to dedicate a day off from school, say on a Saturday, and do a detailed self edit of our texts to incorporate the beta reader feedback and prepare the texts for copy editing. In order to meet our goal of publishing the books this April, we must get the copy editing done no later than March. Given that my students are all about to take their mid-year exams, we cannot begin this process until the end of January, leaving February and March to finish. I think we will make the deadline, and I had planned extra time in the schedule. When I do this project again, however, I will plan a weekend retreat for this final editing process.

My next post will be more about the preparation for publication release.

Subscribe to this blog athttps://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly 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 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Learning to Take Criticism, Both Good and Bad, from Beta Readers

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Beta readersIn 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 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

The student authors I am working with are starting to get beta reader feedback. These beta readers are English teachers, science professionals, and people in the author’s target audience. They all received a draft copy of the author’s book to read and were asked to provide feedback on the content. We used a Beta Reader Checklist for Authors to coordinate this process.

As expected, about half the beta readers have not responded yet, after about a month of having our books. This is normal. People are busy, and it’s the holiday season, so we have to expect to follow up and remind people what we requested of them. We also have to realize that some beta readers will not follow through for various reasons. They may be too busy, they may not like the book, or they may decide they don’t want to give feedback. Whatever the reason, about a one third return rate is probably normal—in other words, expect one out of three people you ask to beta read your book to actually provide a useful response. We expected this return rate, so we asked about three times as many people as we needed.

The responses so far are all across the spectrum. Some are detailed critiques of each part of the book, while others are just broad critiques of the book as a whole. Both types of critiques are useful. The important thing for the author is to accept all critiques graciously. Thank the beta reader now, and later on send them a free copy of the final book. Realize that an author is not obligated to use anything a beta reader says, but should approach each critique objectively. Some critiques may require further substantiation. For example, if the beta reader says some part of the book is not clear or requires more development, try to ask other people what they think. Don’t overreact to one critique and completely change the book. In the end, the beta readers provide a helpful second opinion that should be taken into account with all other critiques and editing comments.

My next post will be after the holidays and discuss the preparation for publication release.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly 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 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Student Authors Need to Market Their Books Before Publication–Both Online and In Person

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Publishing goalIn 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 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

My students are waiting on beta reader feedback right now—they aren’t writing or working on their books, so this is the perfect time to do some preliminary marketing. Click on Marketing Checklist for Authors to get a full list of things you can do. I have already shared about how my students are blogging. Another way to market a book is the more traditional route of using in person events. Student authors may naturally gravitate to blogging and using social media, but they should also learn to do a well-planned live event.

Live events that are feasible and appropriate for students include in-school promotions or presentations of their book projects, presentations to other schools in the district, book promotions at a local bookstore, or book presentations at local conferences. I have taken all of my students to a local writers conference, and I took three of them to the Connecticut Science Teachers Association annual conference. At both events, my students dressed up and had flyers and business cards to hand out as they pitched their books. This type of experience is valuable and applicable to many career fields.

Our next planned live event is a joint promotion with our high school’s literary journal club in the cafeteria during lunch. The goal is to generate interest and curiosity in other students. It is free and relatively easy to set up this type of promotion. The most important thing is for students to be prepared. Working jointly with the literary journal club also gives my students a chance to share their writing experiences with other student writers. Please share your thoughts about any similar projects you have done by commenting on this post.

Next week, my post will share the feedback we are getting from beta readers, as it comes in.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly 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 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Check Out These Resources: Templates, Checklists, and Guides for Mentoring Student Authors

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Resources page imageIn 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 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

The biggest challenge for a teacher who wants to start a new project is finding the time to gather all the necessary resources to plan it out. I like to plan thoroughly for any lesson, so building a lesson from scratch takes me a lot of time—usually longer than the lesson itself. Doing this project where I am mentoring a group of student authors took me hours and hours of planning and researching to gather what I needed to show them the process to follow, and I am sharing all these resources with anyone who can use them. Click here to go straight to my website’s Resources page. When I publish my book in April 2015, it will have all of these items and more neatly packaged and organized so that you can just follow the book and download what you need as you go. I hope you find all of this useful—please give me feedback on what works for you, or what you need that I have not provided.

Next week, my post will share the feedback we are getting from beta readers.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly 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 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.