In this blog I am sharing how I am guiding six high school science students who agreed to try to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April 2015. My purpose is to share this book writing experience with other educators so you can do a similar project in your school. Because this was the first time I have tried, or even heard of this type of project, I first talked to a few students who I knew would be up to the challenge. They recruited more students, and I ended up with six who were volunteering to try this idea. The goal was for each student to publish a book by April 2015, and sell at least 500 copies by the end of the school year, achieving about five to ten times the sales of a typical first-time self-published book. I gave the students this goal to make them understand from the start that this was not a vanity publishing effort, just writing a book for their own pleasure, but a true publishing endeavor to reach a large audience.
TIP #1: When is a good time to start this kind of project? Start late in the school year so that the students are ready to begin writing during the summer break. Students (and teachers) are too busy during the school year to do a project like this on top of all their other activities. Before the school year ended, we met a couple times, first to ensure the students understood the project, and then to give them a clear plan on how to proceed. See the Project Schedule for an overview of our plan. This timing gave me and the students the whole summer to write a first draft of our books and to plan our marketing. This approach gave the students what they need to concentrate on the creative part of writing, while I showed them the technical details on how to publish and market their work. Once the school year starts this fall, we will only need to work in short bursts, either to edit and revise our drafts between reviews, or to send out biweekly blog posts. One thing I did not do, but would recommend, is to partner with other departments in your school, such as the English teachers, to get them on board with the project – they could be a big help with reviews. I will start doing this after the summer break, but would have liked to have started with them earlier. Next week, you will get a tip on drafting a book proposal, the first step in writing a book.
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