Teaching Student Authors to Focus on Quality, not Quantity

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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.

Student authors can be amazingly creative in their writing. They also vary in their output. Some write long, rambling pieces, while others write briefs. In teaching students to write books, or to blog about their books, you have to keep focusing them on the quality of their output. By quality, I don’t mean just polished. Instead, what quality writing means is that it appeals to and is highly desired by the target audience. Quantity, such as word count or number of pages, does not matter. Quality in the eyes of the target audience is what sells books.

Author and consultant, Tim Grahl, states in Your First 1000 Copies that “Good marketing is first and foremost about helping people.” He advocates that a blogger or author must be writing in a way that helps the reader in some way. It could be providing knowledge, motivation, inspiration, or just pleasure. Whichever it is, the reader feels compelled to read more. Students can lack confidence and feel that their writing may not be helpful, so encouraging them is essential.

Jen photoOne of my student authors, Jen Schwartz, is providing helpful information about cancer research on her blog. Check it out at http://jenniferleeschwartz.wordpress.com and please give her feedback.

Next week, my post will have an update about my students’ progress on their books.

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.

First Step for Science Authors: Write a Book Proposal

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Tip#2In 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. 

TIP #2: Have students draft a book proposal as a first step in writing a book. Traditional publishers have always required a book proposal from a prospective author. It is like a business plan for the book, giving the summary of the book’s contents, the target audience, and a marketing plan to reach the audience. Each publisher has a different format for the book proposal, but they all have these essential elements. Even though we are self-publishing our books, by doing a book proposal first, we start out with the same disciplined approach to writing a book that a traditional publisher would give us. (Note: I got this idea from author/publicist, Carole Jelen, in an interview on http://bookmarketingtools.com called “How To Build Your Author Platform.”)

Here is the abbreviated book proposal we used:

  • A statement of what the book’s main focus or purpose is.
  • A general outline of the book.
  • Identification of sources for the book and where to find them.
  • Identification of the target audience.
  • A plan to reach the target audience.

What a book proposal does is get the students to consider their audience from the start. Unlike a term paper or other academic paper that is meant primarily for the teacher to read, a published book seeks to appeal to many readers. By identifying the target audience, students can put themselves in the place of the audience as they write. Students had difficulty with this first step, so I had to give follow-on guidance. One tip I shared from a writers conference I attended was to cut out a magazine picture or print out some other photo of a person representing the target audience and paste it on your computer monitor as a constant reminder to whom you are writing. There are many sources out there with good advice – I list some on the Resources page of my website.

Next week, my post will have a tip on scheduling out the project to build readership before publishing. 

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.

 

The Journey Begins – Mentoring Young Authors

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I am a high school science and engineering teacher starting a test project where I am mentoring a group of young authors. I have recently self published a book, so now I am passing on my experience to a select group of science students. These students are each doing an extraordinary science research project, and they will write a book about their experience. The goal is to publish in April 2015. If you are a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) teacher who believes in expanding STEM and including the ability to communicate, this project would be for you. Follow this blog and download the free content that I will provide to get ideas for your own project. In the end, I will also publish a book by April 2015 with a complete account of our experience.