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.

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

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Cover of Paperback Made Using Amazon's CreateSpace Cover Creator

Cover of Paperback Made Using Amazon’s CreateSpace 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. My book serves two purposes: It gives my students an example to follow, and it gives other teachers the tools to mentor their students. Since I asked my students to produce both paperback and ebook formats, that is what I am doing. I have found that it is easier to do the paperback first, then convert it to ebook, instead of the other way around. I am using Amazon’s services entirely, so for the paperback, I am using CreateSpace. I am just finishing up my paperback production, so here is a review of that experience.

What is CreateSpace? It used to be an independent publishing firm, but was bought up by Amazon a few years ago. CreateSpace offers to publish your book in a print-on-demand paperback format. You pay nothing. You submit a file of your book using Microsoft Word or PDF (portable document format), and CreateSpace makes it into a book 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. It will not be printed and distributed in hard copy. That is the essence of print-on-demand. A book is printed only when someone orders it online. If you want to put your books on store shelves, you can order them from CreateSpace at cost, then give them to the store to sell on consignment. Talk to your local bookstore manager first to see what makes the most sense for you. What I found works well is to buy about 50 of your books when it is first published. Give some to friends and family and to people who helped with the book, then use the rest for any book events, including giving a few to local bookstores to sell on consignment.

The first step in making a book in CreateSpace is to write it. The basis of a good book is the text, and I have covered how we wrote our books and did several phases of editing and revising over the past year in my blog. One aspect of the text is formatting, and for that, 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. CreateSpace also offers a free template on their website.

The next step is to submit your book in CreateSpace for their internal review prior to publishing. You need to establish a log in account with CreateSpace, then set up your title as a project in their website. After that, follow their step-by-step instructions. I found these straightforward, and CreateSpace offers free help through email or telephone. I used the email service a couple times, and they were prompt and helpful. In the “Interior” setup for your book, you will be asked to upload your book file. Again, this can be in Word or PDF. Once you upload it, CreateSpace says it takes 24 hours to review it, but I have found it is usually faster. During this time, upload your cover file, or design one in CreateSpace’s Cover Creator–I used that, and I have been happy with the result. They have many designs available, and you can change colors and other aspects. Once the review is complete, you will get an email explaining if there is any issue with the file. At this point, you can download a digital proof and order a paperback proof copy for a small charge. Do both. The digital proof looks like a virtual paperback on screen, so use it to catch any obvious errors. The paperback proof is invaluable to see exactly what your book will look like–plus it’s a nice souvenir. When I ordered my proof copy, CreateSpace said it would take about ten days to ship, but it actually arrived in five. After you approve the proof, your book is ready to publish. 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 became available today on createspace.com, and it will be available on amazon.com in a couple more days, 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 more about the preparation of the ebook using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

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.

The Final Push: Helping Student Authors Prepare to Release Books for Publication

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Student Authors, Jennifer Lee Schwartz and John Diorio, plan book release on May 17th

Student Authors, Jennifer Lee Schwartz and John Diorio, plan book release on May 17th

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 coordinated with my students to get their books ready for release, so we are in the last stages of preparing them for publication. Simultaneously, we have to market them for release. As self-published authors, we have nobody but ourselves to market our books. My students have blogs and have been posting about their work and their books for the past nine months, so they have done well in building up interest in their books. Now they need to alert their blog followers, their contacts, their family and friends, and their community that their books are about to be available for purchase. Obnoxious sales pitches are not appropriate. Instead, just letting people know the books are available will suffice.

Two of the student authors, Jennifer Lee Schwartz and John Diorio, are planning a joint book release party at our town library on the day the books will be available on Amazon.com:

On the Right Track: A Student’s Memoir of Research, Advancement and Holding on to Hope

by Jennifer Lee Schwartz

Broadening the High School Experience: A Student’s Perspective on Independent Exploration

by John Diorio

Official release party May 17th from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Ridgefield Library

Contact Jennifer Lee Schwartz if you would like to attend.

Jennifer’s memoir about her journey through the Ridgefield High School Science Research Program is filled with emotional anecdotes and new perspectives on innovative cancer research. Jennifer chronicles her struggles and successes, both in the program and in her life, to create a powerful and touching story. John’s book explores the concept of a more open and personalized education system. Creating classes that are centered around independent study projects, will promote exploration and allow students to put their knowledge to use.

The other student author, Alexandra DiGiacomo, will be releasing her children’s book about sharks in June and is working out the details.

My original deadline to these students was to release their books in April. I think April is ideal, as students can do work over spring break and release their books before the final wave of academic tests that hit in May. Nevertheless, these students needed some extra time, and they are releasing their books before the end of the school year. All in all, they have done an outstanding job in completing this project. If you are interested in duplicating this project as a teacher or mentor with your own student authors, I am releasing my book, an easy to follow step-by-step guide to the entire self-publishing process, on April 27, 2015 on Amazon.com:

Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Anyone to Be a Published Author

by Bryan Holmes

Profits will benefit Ridgefield Public Schools and Newington Public Schools in Connecticut.

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

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.