Tag Archives: writing

Teachers Should Write More Books

I know that several of you that follow this blog are teachers.  I also know from talking with you online and in person several of you are trying to write your own books.  And several of you have just thought about writing books.  If you have just thought about making a book but can’t think of an idea.  Get over it, start writing ,and make a book.  It will make you a better teacher.

Write a book just to see it here.  Trust me.  (P.S. image not from  my school library)

Write a book just to see it here. Trust me. (P.S. image not from my school library)

After years of teaching first grade, I was moved this year to teach fifth grade.  I was surprised that several of my students did not know about my Kevin books, because the first one is in our school library and it was mentioned on the school announcements.  I know.  How do they not know!
So recently I brought in a copy of Kevin and the Three-headed Alien, and I wrote the book with third graders in mind, but these 5th graders were competing to read one of the copies I brought to class.  A lesson learned is that in can be very hard to narrow a children’s book to a very specific age group.

Three-Headed Alien Paperback-1
My class asked if everyone could get a copy.  What a wonderful request.  A request that I cannot afford.  (Some how people seem to think I get the books for free.  Cheaper? Yes.  Free? No.) But with two copies in the class students have a waiting list to read the book.  You are missing out if you never experience that as a teacher.

To alleviate stress in the class I changed my lesson plan, (don’t tell my admin) and did a shared reading lesson on my own book.  I read the first chapters and the students made connections with the text.  They made personal connections with the text and made connections with other texts.
As a writer this is unbelievable access to how your market is connecting with your work. As a teacher I have engaged my students more. Now they are creating their own books in class. One student told me they were going to upload their book to Amazon. Engaging your students and inspiring them to create their own work is why more teachers should be writing.

P.S. I have another book out soon.  It would be great if you joined my mailing list.  If you are on the list you will get news of the new book first.  Don’t worry I don’t spam, I am too busy.  Click here to join the list.  Thanks!

P.P.S.

Seriously, people go write those books.

Great Resources for Indie Publishing

I’ve talked to a few people in the last 48 hours who have mentioned they are reading this blog for ideas on how to publish their book.  I figured a better way maybe instead of me doing all the writing, but instead share what I have read and am currently reading.

Books

APE, Author-Publisher-Entrepreneur came out after I was well on my way finishing the first Kevin book.  It covers the whole process from the writing, to the publishing, to the marketing part.  It is written by Guy Kawasaki, who a major tech player, having once been a Chief Apple Evangelist and himself has over 1 million twitter followers.

One thing I disagree with him on is a social media presence.  He suggests getting that started before anything.  I wouldn’t agree with that.  Write your book, but also work on developing your audience, which could include a large social media following.

But still the best book on the whole process from beginning to end.

This is another entry in how to publish.  David Gaughran is an Irish writer who has a great blog on the subject.  His book doesn’t have as much on the promotion end as the Kawasaki book does, but still tells you step by step what to do.

Be the Monkey, doesn’t really tell you how to publish, but it does the best job explaining about what is going on in the publishing world.  Both writers are best-selling authors with traditional contracts who have gone the indie route.  That alone speaks volumes of the publishing industry.

Websites and Blogs

Here is a list of some great blogs by writers who are doing the indie publishing thing.

James Altucher’s writing is what got me to thinking about self-publishing.  He has books published both traditionally and self-published.  This post from 2011 is probably what got the ball rolling for me.  His blog is wonderful for things beyond writing.  It was his blog where I discovered the phrase “choose yourself.”  But that’s for another post.

Let’s Go Digital is David Gaughran’s blog who wrote the above Let’s Get Digital.  Great info about the industry and how to get your name out.

Failure Ahoy is the blog of Edward Robertson who has several self published scifi books out.  He does an unbelievable job digging into the nitty-gritty of the Amazon store’s algorithm.

Dean Wesley Smith is a former traditionally published author who now indie publishes.  (Noticing a pattern?)  He does online workshops for people, which I have not done, but his experience that he passes on is great.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing is written by Joe Konrath who helped write the above Be the Monkey.  See this post on his blog about a writer who used to publish thrillers through Harlequin but now does them on her own.  See where I am going with this?

Barry Eisler apparently used to be an actual James Bond, expect that he is an American.  And has been writing spy novels for years, now he has taken back the rights to his books and published them on his own.  Great resources here.

Hugh Howley is the writer of the Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga)
.  His self published series has been bought by 20th century fox to make into a movie with Ridley Scott directing.  So there you go.

Anyway that is what I currently reading about this new world.  The online community is very helpful.  I am also a part of the A.P.E. community on Google+.  Great community.

I am making this whole thing up as I go, and the more we share together the better.  We are all in this together.

P.S. yes the above Amazon links are affiliates, I make a little money if you buy through those links.  That doesn’t make a bad person, other things do.

Step 3 Tell People You’ve Written a Book.

The next step I took was telling people I wrote book.  I didn’t tell anyone at first because I had never done this before.  I mean who am I to think I can write a book?  No one from New York or London had ordained me a writer.  Who am I?

The simple math is that you will sell zero copies if you never tell people.

There is more than gaining sales when you tell people, you also earn respect.

Here’s the honest truth I didn’t even tell my wife at first.  I mean she had read an early draft of the book when I first wrote it several years ago.  But didn’t even tell my wife that I had hired an illustrator and was finishing a book.  Yeah, that’s the kind of husband I am.
But after I got around to telling her, I used Facebook to publish a few illustrations from the book to tell everyone.  Carla’s illustrations made it look like a legitimate book.
By publishing the pictures people actually began to be interested in the book.  It took me by surprise.

As if by some divine intervention Disney bought Star Wars, and the news covered my Facebook feed for the evening.  So I decided to jump on the wave and post the pictures the same evening.

My first press release.  A full 10-12 weeks before it was ready.

My first press release. A full 10-12 weeks before it was ready.

In some ways it would seem that telling people that you’ve written a book would be obvious. But telling people about a new project, especially something you’ve never done before, is a learning experience.
Telling people that you’ve made a book changes your life. And it changes it in ways you didn’t expect.
I received various questions from “where did you get the idea”, “who published you?”, “how did you do it?”
I was unprepared for the questions, in many ways I still am. But I realized if you not only write a book, but also format it, get a cover, and put it out there then you’ve done more than most people, and that separates you from the rest of the crowd.  They will want to know how you got there.

Okay, you’ve finished a book, and put it out there.  You have done what thousands of people have wanted to do, but never got around to doing it.

So go ahead and tell people, you’ve earned it.

Step 1. Just start writing.

As people began to ask me about writing Kevin and the Seven Lions, several people said “Oh, I’ve always wanted to do that!” or “I want to do that but just can’t come up with an idea.”  The best advice I can think of for ideas, is just write.

 You want to write a book.  So write.

That’s how the book was born.  I just started writing.  This sentence came to mind “Kevin slept in class.”  That was the sentence that I first wrote down.  For the longest time the story didn’t have a name.  The story just sat in my hard drive as “Kevin slept in class,” because Word saves the first sentence of anything you write as the title until you change it.  “Kevin slept in class” as a sentence didn’t make it into the book, it was changed along time ago in some editing phase.  But the book was started by one simple sentence.  Don’t make it a big deal.

I know it sounds slight and condescending to say “just write.”  But it is what I learned in this process.  Don’t over think it, don’t think about what would the kids want to read or your audience.  Write what you would want to read.  Write for you.

Writing your own made up story should be fun.  If it isn’t, for crying out loud, stop.

Okay I’ve written something, but doesn’t someone have to publish it?

I originally shopped my story around to different agents and publishing houses.  More than anything I just wanted to learn how querying agents worked, maybe I could get some feedback.

I got nothing.  I lost count after contacting 20 or 30 something agents and houses.  It was a lot of work keeping track of who I sent the manuscript to and looking for people to send it to.  It was too much work, a spreadsheet was involved.

But now in the 21st century there are no more gate keepers.  

No one is going to come down from on high, lay hands on you and ordain you a writer.

And that’s a good thing.

If you are a teacher, like I am, you read a lot.  Reading a lot helps with writing.  Stephen King wrote in his book “On Writing” that writers need to read, a lot.  I read a lot of children’s books.  I mean a lot.  On an average, vanilla day, I read four different picture or story books.  That quickly adds up.

It is this math of books that lead me to writing a children’s book, as opposed to say a spy novel.  I do read lots of James Bond books, but I read more children’s books.  Lots more, it is a consequence of my job.

All that should help people that want to write a book, to well, write a book.

What if no one buys it?

So what if no one reads it.  Upload it to Createspace make a paperback and bring it with you to an interview, and automatically you stand out more than the other people competing for the same job.

Post it on Amazon, and then order a copy from Amazon.  Having the UPS man drop off one of those boxes with the smile on it, with YOUR book inside, is an awesome feeling.  I know, I took a picture of the box before I opened it.

Kevin and the Seven Lions in Amazon Box

Knowing that your book is inside of Amazon box is a pretty cool feeling. You should try it sometime.

But step 1 is, just start writing. The ideas will come.