Tips on Self-Publishing for Educators
If You Use Facebook, You’re Self-Publishing
If you use Facebook, Twitter, or any social media, you are already self-publishing. You are writing content, making editorial decisions on text, photos, videos or other graphics to include, and every time you hit “Post” you are publishing to either your “subscribers” (Friends on Facebook) or to the Internet-connected world (if your page is public or for “everyone”). If you are an educator and only use social media for your personal posts, beware! Students and administrators can potentially access your posts and tweets; if they are not squeaky clean, it may cost you your job.
Use Social Media for Classroom and Blog Information
Be careful of posting photos of your students; it's murky legal ground (in terms of liability, even if the school has parents' approval). However, social media, such as a (very controlled) Facebook page and a Twitter account, can be excellent ways to publish photos of student work, information about events coming up at school, and homework assignments. These are convenient and (relatively) safe ways to create and maintain valuable home-school communication links. Your own teaching Twitter account (@yourname) is also a great way to get readership for your blog posts, by tweeting every new post.
Blogging is a little passé at this point in time (in terms of "cool factor"), but it is still an excellent way to write and disseminate (publish) your thoughts and ideas as an educator. Consider every post a chapter of a book, the book of your own educational philosophy and practice. The best blogging site is WordPress (you can buy your own name through WordPress as a .com domain or you can take the free account which gives you an address like: yourname.wordpress.com; I recommend bargain hunting with registrars such as GoDaddy for a .com domain name). WordPress has its own community but you can also publish your blog to other sites such as reddit.com. Just remember to keep it professional, so, if you’ve had a bad day, go out with friends, get it out of your system and then, perhaps, blog about how to prevent whatever happened to you.
Write an Ebook
If you’ve had to create your own textbook or activities for one or more classes, especially for specialty classes, for any level, you should consider writing it up as an ebook. Though you will not get rich overnight, ebook sales are a growing market segment. Use Microsoft Word 2010 or above to create, spell- and grammar-check your text and graphics (be sure to anchor your graphics so they don’t float when viewed on an e-reader or tablet). MS Word 2010 is your best bet for being able to publish directly to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Publish Your Ebook
In order to publish your ebook, first you need to format your Microsoft Word manuscript. Then, you should create a cover for your book. In order to do this, you can purchase a photo or image from sources such as istockphoto.com or use your own. Make the cover by importing the photo or image you choose into an MS Word page and using MS Word’s graphics capabilities (such as WordArt for simple but interesting text formatting) to create your cover text. The final step in making your ebook cover is to create a JPG image of it. To do this, download Snapashot; it is a free print screen-like software program that creates a JPG photo. You will need this JPG image of the entire cover (text and image you bought or found) to publish your ebook on Amazon or on Barnes and Noble. Once you have both a cover image in JPG format and your formatted MS Word file, you can upload directly to Amazon (to make your ebook available for Kindles) and Barnes and Noble (to make your ebook available for Nooks).