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/.

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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.

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.

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.