Michelle Smith and her new author
Almost two years ago, I attended a Teaching and Learning Excellence Center (TLEC) workshop on how to develop a winning proposal to submit to book publishers. Two powerful African-American females presented. One presenter was an editor for a major publishing house and the other presenter was an editor with a successful publication record. They explained the process of getting a book published.
I knew I wanted to write and publish a book. The seed was planted, and I never let an idea slip into oblivion. A couple of months later, I was given an opportunity of a lifetime. I talked via email and on the phone with Michelle Smith, Great River Technologies Acquisition Manager and Instructional Consultant; we talked how we could incorporate my love of technology and English with their need to produce digital textbooks. It wasn’t long before we decided to meet and discuss the process. I love teaching and using technology. I knew I had a niche in the book publishing market. I wanted to write for an urban audience. A year earlier, I had developed a hybrid WRIT class at Texas Southern University. Writing this book would solve several of my needs as an instructor. Before long, I was signing a contract and discussing royalty payments.
Teaching with Technology
I am a proud NERD and a former computer programming major. I love teaching and playing with various tech tools. Snagit, Camtasia, Prezi, Xtranormal (no longer exist), YouTube, Adobe Creative Cloud, and my Bamboo tablet were just a few of the tools that I planned to use to create an interactive digital textbook. I planned to use Adobe Illustrator to draw my own original art work for the publication. I submitted the blue print for my book and the GRT team liked it. Billie Jo Hefel, project manager and Michelle Smith discussed timelines and GRT’s expectations of me. I thought I was going to crank the book out in a five months. Instead, I started focusing too much on the technology behind creating videos and other activities instead of focusing on the book’s content. Before I knew it, July had passed and December was fast approaching. Michelle was supportive, but I felt the pressure.
My digital textbook was my chance to reinvent myself as a published author and as an expert in my field. I was given a chance to design a book from start to finish. I had the freedom to do anything I wanted. Yet I did not know if I could deliver. By December 2012, I had produced a short e-book for my hybrid WRIT 101 class. I could teach without having to bounce all over the internet to find materials. My students could have all of my content and videos in their hands on multiple devices. All of my WRIT 101 classes were held in a lab, a digital textbook was the right medium for what I wanted to do. I ran blindly into the future of textbook publishing. My dream had materialized. My book had a name, Writing Essentials: Strategies to Master Freshmen English and Writing Placement Exams; it had an ISBN number and customers. Although I produced the book on time, I knew the first edition of the publication did not represent my capabilities.
Major Changes Implemented
In 2013, I went to work on correcting my mistakes. I reinvented my book and myself as a writer. I spent hours conducting research on writing placement testing requirements for college freshmen in Texas. I studied strategies to help students with dyslexia. I learned tools to offer students that are classified as English as a Second Language learners; I determined veterans needed unique tools and strategies to utilize in college classes.
I decided I would rewrite my textbook, and I completed it in one semester. I added twelve chapters with research based strategies to help students pass their writing placement exams, and to help freshmen college students improve their English. I worked hard to provide my students with a book that was filled with practical and useful videos, images, and exercises. Today, my goal is to add more activities that will help students learn how to conduct research, use electronic databases, and to integrate reading and writing exercises.
The new edition of Writing Essentials
April 29, 2014, Michelle and I had a working lunch at Fogo de Chao. We discussed ideas to market the publication. I told her about my other partnership with Everyday Intellect to produce On-Demand Lectures online. She talked about all of the latest updates on Great River Technologies’ Website and my website. I was able to show her finished activities included in the textbook. I was selected for an author’s spotlight on GRT’s blog. Today, I am more excited about my book. I feel supported by Great River Technologies. They are watching me grow as an author. I have reinvented myself and my brand. Next, I am going to teach On-Demand Lectures using the book’s content in some of my Everyday Intellect Workshops starting May 10, 2014.