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.

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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/.

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.

Check Out These Resources for Mentoring Student Authors

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checklistIn this blog, I am sharing how I mentored a group of high school science students to write and publish books about their science research experiences in 2015.

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 mentored 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 so you can use them. Click here to go straight to my website’s Resources page that has checklists, templates, and guides for mentoring student authors. My book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to be a Self-Published Author, has 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.

Each month, my post will share how this project worked so you can duplicate it in whatever way works best for you.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with monthly tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I mentored three high school science students to become published authors in the spring of 2015.