In 2008, I became a published author. My book, Coordinate Graphing Hidden Pictures, was published by Carson-Dellosa publishing. Let me tell you how it happened.
It started in my classroom. I teach students with special needs and at the time I had a resource room setting and was responsible for teaching them the math curriculum that their peers were receiving, just simplified and at a slower pace. I was searching for simple coordinate graphing activities and found very little, so I decided to make some myself.
I made a few basic pages and found my kids were having great success with them. Some of my coworkers saw them and asked to try them in their classrooms, as well. One afternoon, I was on an educational website that offers worksheets for a yearly fee. They had posted a notice at the top of their page that they were looking for new ideas and were offering $50 for any they accept. I went ahead and submitted the pages I made with the hopes that I might make a little extra money. I never heard back from them.
A few weeks went by and my husband asked me why I didn’t send these pages to a publishing company. A publishing company! The thought had never entered my mind. I started looking at my collection of teacher-resource books (of which I have many) and saw that most have an address and directions for submitting original manuscripts. I took about an hour and sat down and made a list of all the different publishing companies and then went online and visited their websites to make sure my submission information was up to date. I followed the directions of each individual company and then went to an office supply store to made copies of my manuscript (which is what I started calling those beginning practice pages).
I mailed them all out on the same day. I truly wasn’t expecting to hear back from any of them. One afternoon, my husband called me at school to let me know there was a message on our answering machine from Carson-Dellosa Publishing. I couldn’t believe it! Carson-Dellosa is one of the most well-known educational publishing companies out there. They were interested in my manuscript, but first wanted me to edit it according to their directions. I think I edited the manuscript twice before they offered me a contract.
The contract was very surprising to me. The way it works is that they buy the rights to your book. Yes, my name is on the cover, but I don’t know how many have been sold or get any money after that initial amount (which was less than $2,000). I had another publishing company call me a few days after that, but the contract I signed with Carson-Dellosa included a confidentiality clause; I couldn’t talk about it with anyone. The contract also states that Carson-Dellosa has first dibs on any future manuscripts I may write.
I had to go through another round of editing and creating an answer key and then was able to send them the final version online. They took care of formatting and creating a cover (though I would have enjoyed working on a cover!). I was please when I saw the final product. The book is exactly as I had written it. They didn’t change a single thing.
Since then, I have created other coordinate graphing pages on the Olympics and posted them to TeachersPayTeachers. I have had a lot of good feedback from them.
I still use my book and am glad I did it. I am not really interested in writing another teacher resource book in this manner. I would rather keep the rights to what I create and possibly earn more of a residual income. Still, it is awfully nice to tell my students that I am an author and show them the book with my name on the front. I can only hope to inspire them to try to do the same!