Teachers as Published Authors

26 May 2011
I have gotten so many emails asking me how I became a published author for Scholastic.  I have one Scholastic teacher resource book that was published in May 2010, 50 Just Right Reading Response Activities.  I have another Scholastic teacher resource book that came out in April 2012, 20 Super Spelling Centers.  I hope this verbose post answers your questions.  
I would like to start by saying that I do not consider myself an especially skilled writer.  I have never been the best of spellers and grammar was always a struggle for me.  I have a degree in Literature and Rhetoric from SUNY Binghamton, so I am more cognizant of my shortcomings.  The good news about writing professional resource books, is that you don't have to be perfect at grammar, you just have to be able to convey your great ideas.  One of the things I love about teaching a primary grade, is that I get to be creative.  I love blogging, TpT, and publishing teacher resource books because I am able to share with other teachers and be recognized for my creativity.  

My first book, came about through networking.  This is not the normal protocol for becoming published.  I took a professional development course with Mary Beth Spann (click {here} to check out some of the books she has written).  One of her editors at Scholastic had asked her if she would be interested in writing another book for them on reading response activities. She decided to pass on the job, but recommended me to her editor.  I had shared some of my teaching ideas with her in our class and she thought that I would be well suited for the job.  I sent ten sample reading response activities and I was hired! 

My second book, came about through the more traditional route.  I sent a proposal to Scholastic.  My proposal included a query letter, my resume, an outline, an introduction/front matter, and samples.  Click {here} for a link on the specifics Scholastic would like included in a proposal.  I sent Scholastic two different proposals, one on a Laura Numeroff Author Study (which I turned into a TpT packet) and one on Spelling Centers.  Scholastic then contacted me via email and expressed their interest in my Spelling Center book. Below, I will further explain the parts of a proposal.  These proposal tips would work with any publishing company, not just Scholastic.

A query letter is a formal letter sent to magazine editors, literary agents and/or publishing companies.  In the letter, writers propose their manuscript/writing in hopes of becoming contracted and published. For links on how to write a query letter, click {here} and {here}.

In your resume, be sure to highlight your areas of expertise.  Here is my resume:

An outline is basically your sample table of contents.  For my spelling center book, I included a list of the 20 centers and brief descriptions of each center.

Most professional resource books have an introduction or in literary terms, a front matter section.  This is the part of the book that tells you why and how to use the book.  To be honest, I never read the front matter of any Scholastic resource books until I became a writer of one!  Look at the front matter in other resource books for ideas.

Samples should be of your strongest and most creative ideas.  Make sure your samples are visually appealing and well edited.  Look at other books by the publisher.  Most books by the same publisher have a similar format or style.  For example, notice how streamlined and simple the Scholastic student direction pages are.  Don't worry about about what type of clipart you use, the publishers have graphic designers who will create their own graphics for the book.

Once you have proposed your book, it may be a very long time before you hear from the publisher.  You might not hear from the at all.  My mother has a children's book manuscript that she has sent to publishers in the hopes of getting published.  She could send out twenty proposals and only get one response back in the form of a rejection letter.  She actually gets excited when she gets rejection letters.  A rejection letter tells her that an editor took the time to at least read her manuscript.

If  the publisher shows an interest in your book, they might not sign you to a contract right away.  I was asked to scrap a few of my spelling centers and come up with new ones.  Then, I was asked to elaborate on the front matter.  After a while of back and forth via email, I was finally contracted.  As I did with my last book, I opted for an advance and royalties rather than a flat fee.  The standard writer's royalty percentage is 8% per book sold, for the life of the book.  This percentage decreases if books are purchased using bonus points or through discount markets.  It averages to about 80 cents per book sold.  I am happy to say that I have worked off my advance for the first book and now collect a royalty check twice a year.  I am nowhere near getting rich off these books, but it is a nice extra. 

Once contracted, you assigned a deadline.  You are also assigned an editor or two.  I had a freelance editor, who I work closely with through email.  She then reported to an editor who was employed full time through Scholastic in NYC.  I went back and forth with my freelance editor a few times a week reviewing ideas and formatting for the book.  Many of my original spelling centers were scrapped.  My editor became my sounding board.  Sometimes, I would lie in bed at night and a new idea would come to me.  I would scribble it down on a pad and email my editor in the morning.  She would either think it was fabulous or tell me that it needed more work.  When the book comes out, you will see there is a spelling center called Sailing Away with Vowels and Consonants.  I originally wanted to do Spelling Word Fractions, but the editors thought it would be too difficult for grades K-2.  So that center then morphed into Crustacean Vowels and Consonants, where the students were sorting vowels and consonants on crab and lobster legs.  Needless to say, that was not appealing to my editor and she asked me to keep on thinking.  Finally, I came up with Sailing Away with Vowels and Consonants.  I cannot share it with you, but I promise if you purchase the book, you will not be disappointed. 

Another interesting thing about writing a book is that it must be typed in Word without graphics.  Instead of placing graphics in the document as you would for TpT, you write directions for the graphic artists.  I wrote "WOL" every time I wanted a "Write On Line."

Once your manuscript is complete, the editors go over it.  My editor will email me with any questions she may have, but for the most part, it is out of my hands.  The editors then pass the manuscript on to the graphic artists.  Sometimes the editors will email me PDF files from the book and have my students test them out.  We want to make sure that there is enough room for primary students to write.    

Finally, the book is sent to the printer. As the author, I receive 10 free copies in the mail and the option to buy more at cost.  Along with these books, I receive a release date.   This is when the book will be available for purchase.  Here is my posts on my just released 20 Super Spelling Centers book.

Many teachers aspire to be Children's book authors.  If this is your goal, I recommend purchasing the book The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market.  I also recommend joining a local writers' group or taking a class taught by a published children's book author. 

I hope you have found this post useful and/or inspiring. Happy teaching and creating!

End of the Year Thank You Card

22 May 2011
I just uploaded my FREE End of the Year Thank You Card to TpT.  Download it by clicking {here}!
My end of the year is not until June 24th, but I am noticing a lot of my blogger buddies are almost done with school.  When do you start?  We don't start again until after Labor Day.  It has been so cool here on Long Island (NY), that I am glad we don't have off yet.  I want to soak up as much sun as possible during the summer!

Miss Bohrer's Class Completes Famous Idioms

16 May 2011
I had my first graders complete famous idioms this week.  The results were adorable!
For a link to my previous post about my idiom packet, click {here}.  To order this packet on TPT for only $2.50, click {here}.

Math Rings, Flashcards, and Mini Posters

15 May 2011
Here is my complete 65 page Math Ring, Flashcards, and Mini Posters Packet.  I am selling it on TeachersPayTeachers for $5, but I am giving it to your for free to say thank you for being a follower.  I just ask that if you download, please make sure you follow my blog and my TeacherPayTeacher store (click {here}). Thank you to each and every one of you for helping me reach over 500 followers!
The cover graphic is from Scrappin Doodles.  Please, go to the left to click on their link and check out their adorable graphics.

Click on the picture to download from Google Docs.
I have my students bring these rings back and forth to school, just as I do their word rings.  I just don't assess the students as often on their math facts, as I do their word rings.  *For more information on my word rings, check out my Guided Reading Packet by clicking {here}.

Seed to Plant Prediction

14 May 2011
I created a "My Seed to Plant Project" packet  for my students to complete when we plant seeds in the classroom.  I provide my students with "mystery seeds" and they predict what type of plant the seeds will grow into.  I have added this ten page packet to my TeacherPayTeacher store.  Click {here} to pick it up for only $1.50.

Students Complete Famous Idioms

08 May 2011
Every year around Spring Exhibit time, I have my students complete and illustrate famous idioms.  I compile the pages into a class made book.  The results are hysterical.  The parents all crowd around the book, pointing out the funny sayings such as "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him go swimming."
I have posted the book and sheets on TPT.  Click {here} to check it out.  I have also upload a sample from the packet below.

New Fabulous Blog to Check Out!

07 May 2011
I am supposed to be hard at work on my dinosaur unit, but I have a hard time focusing on one thing for a long period of time.  I think it comes from teaching first grade for so long. So, I am shopping and blog hopping while I am working.  I found Mrs. Tabb's First Grade Balanced Literacy Unit: Oceans (Totally Free) post and of course I clicked!  It is totally awesome and totally free.  I follow Mrs. Tabb's blog Just Another Day in First Grade and if you have not checked her out you must.  She has awesome freebies!  Click {here} to check her out.  You will be glad you did.

Circus Fun Math Centers - Free Sample!

05 May 2011
Here is a sample from my Circus Fun Math Centers that I posted on TeachersPayTeachers.  I hope that you take advantage of my sale and purchase it today before midnight! Click {here} to check it out!
This 41 page packet includes five math centers:
Circus Fun: Make Ten to Add - Students use circus peanuts and a double tens frame to complete addition problems with sums between 11- 18.
Punch the Ticket - Students take a ticket and complete the subtraction problem on the ticket.  They then hole punch their answer into the ticket.
Circus Graphing-Students will graph their favorite circus acts, complete a tally chart, and then analyze the data.
Circus Fun Word Problems - Six pages of word problems, two problems on each page.  The word problems can be cut apart and used as The Problem of the Day or copied together to be used as a center.
Circus Fun Fact Families - Students use a Circus Tent Parts and Whole Work Mat to find the missing number in a fact family.  Then then record their work and complete the addition and subtraction problems for that fact family.

Click {here} for a link to this google doc.

Happy Cinco de Mayo

I just had to share this picture of Molly!
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