This Author 2020 blog series is for fiction and nonfiction indie authors who have either already published, or are due to publish, a book in 2020!
As well as showcasing their amazing writing achievement, every featured author answered ten questions to give aspiring fiction and nonfiction indie authors a behind-the-scenes insight into the book writing process.
This Author 2020 blog post features teacher and nonfiction author Richard James Rogers sharing his experiences of writing and self publishing his latest book ‘The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know’.
1. Tell me about your book in 25 words or less!
The book contains everything a high school teacher needs to know in order to be exceptional at what they do.
2. How long did your book take to write?
A very, very long time! Two years.
3. How long did the whole process take – from initial idea to publication?
Two and a half years.
4. What have you learnt about the process of writing a book that might help other indie authors?
This is a great question. Now that I have written three books, with The Quick Guide to Classroom Management being my first (and bestselling) volume, I can honestly say that I have learnt a great deal about the process. My key takeaways are:
Customers really appreciate quality.
Focus on making your book really good in terms of content. Make it substantial and ensure that the topics are explored in detail. Readers are prepared to spend good money on high-quality work.
Try to entertain along the way.
As a nonfiction author, I’ve found this to be quite a challenge. For me, my ‘entertainment’ comes in the form of case studies and real life examples to make the content digestible for my readers. You really have to strike a balance between heavy detail and easy reading. Break things up regularly with examples that showcase the concepts you are explaining.
Hire an illustrator.
Books with pictures look so much better than those without (especially for nonfiction authors). However, if your picture contains tiny details, then make sure the print size is large and clear enough for readers to actually see the concepts you are explaining.
Once you’ve written a book, you then need to market it.
This is a long and continuous process, and I’ve been doing it for five years. In my case, I set up a blog (https://richardjamesrogers.com) and wrote an article per week covering concepts similar to those covered in my book – everything to do with teaching. By sharing my blog posts on social media every week (for five years!) and adding links to my books within the blog posts themselves, I’ve found that book sales have increased steadily over the years.
Legacy is everything.
Some authors make it big instantly, but most make it big over many years. You really need to build up your online presence through a focussed blog and dedicated social media accounts. This builds up trust, which you can leverage when advertising your books.
You need to spend money to make money.
Hire a formatter (someone to make the print book look good), hire a proofreader (even the best authors make massive mistakes) and hire a graphic designer to make the cover look appealing.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently, or would do differently with your next book?
I definitely should have hired a proofreader back in 2015 when I first published this book. I made so many cringeworthy spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes, some of which I didn’t discover until years later. The latest edition, thankfully, has been proofread and my dedicated top fans (of which I have a modest handful) tell me that the clarity of my writing is much better now.
6. How much did it cost to get your book to market?
Less than £500, but the time investment was massive. A general breakdown follows:
- Proofreading: £100
- Formatting: £50
- Cover designs: £20
- Marketing: £200
- Illustrations: £50
7. Do you have any plans to write another/any more books in the future? If so, would you like to share any details about it/them?
Yes. I’ll never stop writing. The more you do it, the better you get at it. My next book is a spin-off from my most popular blog post of all time: 10 Techniques Every Teacher Needs to Know (https://richardjamesrogers.com/2018/09/09/10-techniques-every-teacher-needs-to-know/).
I’m going to write about each technique in much more detail than the blog post goes into, with multiple case studies, interviews and examples to illustrate the points. I’m happy to spend a couple of years on this project because I know that the time investment will pay dividends.
8. Do you want to give a public shout out to anyone who helped you produce your book?
Yes! A few people. My:
- Wife – Mrs Natvaran Rogers (Nicki)
- Proofreader – Miss Claire Hillsmith
- Formatter – Ms Catherine Baduin
9. Please share an excerpt of your book below.
The Golden Rules of Praise and Encouragement:
Use a variety of methods to praise and encourage your students.
Comments written on their work, verbal praise in the classroom, multimedia-based praise (e.g. comments on blogs, stars on student-generated websites, ‘stickers’ in VLE chat forums, etc.) and informal chats outside of the classroom are all great ways to make your students feel appreciated and important.
Praise only works if it is sincere.
Flattery loses its effect over time. Always find something genuine and meaningful to praise.
If a student produces a really good piece of work, then make sure you show it to the class as a good example to follow!
This will make the student feel extra special, and will encourage both the student and the rest of the class to work even harder. If your school has a VLE (virtual learning environment), then a novel way to do this would be to scan the work and post it on your subject page. If not, then simply projecting the work onto your interactive whiteboard, or just holding it up in front of the class will have an uplifting effect on that student.
When you do have to reprimand or correct your students, make sure you praise them for something first.
Every human being, no matter who they are, receives criticism much better if their inhibitions are overcome with praise first. A good rule is the ‘two stars and a wish’ rule, where you praise two things that went well, and you suggest a target for the future.
Praise must be collective, in order to be effective.
When a student does a great piece of work, tell your colleagues and your line manager. Ask them to reinforce your praise by giving their own praise to the student.
Reinforcement should also be self-driven – remind your students of previous achievements in order to empower their momentum.
“I remember the excellent Chemistry student who built the atomic structure model in Term 1. She said, ‘I’ll find a way to suspend the protons in the middle’. Jessica, you’ve already shown me what a hard-working, committed student you are. This is your moment to shine once again. Put your best effort into this. I believe in you. I know you can do this!”
Remember to keep praising students who consistently produce good work.
These students often get forgotten because they tend to be very compliant, just generally ‘get on with it’ and offer no problems in terms of behaviour management. It is important to keep encouraging students like this. Praise should not be used exclusively as a motivation tool for underperforming or poorly behaved students.
10. Where can readers buy your book (and any other books you have written)?
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TVCWFZ4
- Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-quick-guide-to-classroom-management-mr-richard-james-rogers/1122951669
Thank you for featuring in this Author 2020 blog series Richard!