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“I Could not Discover the E book I Wished for My Class…So I Wrote It Myself”


In her 15 years of instructing second grade, Shannon Olsen by no means meant to turn out to be a best-selling kids’s guide writer. She simply couldn’t discover the kind of guide she was in search of to make use of in her classroom, so she determined to write down it herself.

Her guide, Our Class is a Household, acknowledges that lecturers accomplish that a lot for his or her college students exterior the partitions of a classroom. They actually assist create a way of group and provides college students a much-needed feeling of household, each single day.

Seems, Shannon wasn’t the one one who wished a guide with this theme. Since she first printed it in Might 2020, greater than 130,000 copies have been bought. The guide additionally reached the #1 spot for youngsters’s books on Publishers Weekly in addition to different lists. We caught up with Shannon to ask her about turning into a kids’s guide writer whereas nonetheless working as a trainer, and we discovered a lot. Check out how she actually defied the percentages of turning into a best-selling kids’s guide writer. And it was all impressed by her life as a trainer!

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WeAreTeachers: Do you might have a background in writing? 

SO: I’ve at all times wished to be an writer since I used to be a child. Actually, I truly knew I wished to be an writer earlier than I knew I wished to be a trainer. I majored in English at UC Irvine and minored in training, however that’s my solely writing background. I grew to become extra impressed to write down kids’s books after I began making different assets for the classroom on Academics Pay Academics. As soon as I began creating supplies, I began a weblog and a trainer Instagram account. 

WeAreTeachers: When did you first have the thought on your guide? 

SO: It was through the starting of the varsity 12 months again in 2019. I used to be studying aloud a number of back-to-school books to my college students on the time. I believed, I want there was a guide that expressed the message that our class is sort of a household. 

WeAreTeachers: Why was that matter fascinating to you? 

SO: Similar to many lecturers, one of many issues I’ve at all times instructed my courses is that we’re like a household. It not solely makes classroom administration and sophistication group stronger, however this concept has actually helped college students really feel accepted and that our class is a spot the place they belong. Since I couldn’t discover a guide prefer it, I took recommendation from considered one of my favourite childhood authors, Beverly Cleary. She as soon as stated, “When you don’t see the guide you need on the shelf, write it.”

WeAreTeachers: What occurred subsequent? 

SO: I had the thought, however I didn’t even take into consideration how I’d publish it or promote it at that time. I simply sat down and wrote it out first. Then after that, I believed, Now what? I had no concept the way to go about publishing a guide, so I began reaching out to make connections. I spent a variety of time doing analysis concerning the completely different choices, like conventional publishing vs. self-publishing. Initially, I believed I wished to attempt the normal route. Then I noticed that even on the slim likelihood {that a} conventional writer would settle for my guide, it may nonetheless take years earlier than I’d even have the guide in my arms. So I believed I’d give self-publishing a go as a substitute. I figured even when no person purchased the guide, not less than I went for it after which may learn it to my college students. 

WeAreTeachers: How did you resolve on illustrations for the guide? 

SO: The illustrations have been actually necessary to me as a result of, as a trainer, I do know you’ll be able to have an amazing story or guide, however should you don’t have the proper illustrations or visuals to go together with it that it gained’t work. I spent a variety of time—hours and hours—trying to find and contacting completely different illustrators. I lastly discovered Sandie Sonke, who didn’t stay too far-off from me in Southern California. Apart from her expertise, I cherished that she was open to collaboration.

WeAreTeachers: After the illustrations have been completed, how did you go about getting bodily copies? 

SO: As a busy working mother, my time may be very useful to me. I knew that I’d most likely be capable to save a variety of time and frustration by hiring somebody to assist me get the guide correctly formatted and uploaded to promote on Amazon. As soon as the itemizing was stay, I simply introduced it on my Instagram web page with an image of me holding the guide. It was very scary to place myself on the market like that since you simply by no means understand how your work might be perceived, however the instructing group was so supportive. 

Children's book author reads her book to her class

WeAreTeachers: Have you ever heard from any publishers or brokers who need to publish your work now? 

SO: Sure. I’ve been fortunate to have a number of publishing corporations, together with a few “massive 5” publishers, attain out to me. I’m humbled that some have made me very beneficiant affords for licensing rights to the guide, and sooner or later, I could select to signal with a writer and go down that path.

I benefit from the artistic facet of being an writer and never a lot the enterprise and funds, however my husband is like my CFO and is a superb advisor. So, for now, I’m having fun with studying extra concerning the self-publishing course of and seeing the place it takes me. I’ve began promoting copies independently on my web site. And I did not too long ago signal an settlement for an unique version of Our Class is a Household to be launched with a serious retailer, which might be popping out this summer time. 

WeAreTeachers: Are you engaged on any new initiatives? 

SO: Sure. I’ve written a few new books, and Sandie and I are presently collaborating on the illustrations. I’m planning to have the primary one launched within the late spring of this 12 months. I’ve additionally simply began providing digital writer visits, which has been a enjoyable new journey up to now. 

WeAreTeachers: What’s your recommendation to others who may need to write or publish? 

SO: Writing the guide is the straightforward half. It’s all the things that comes after that’s the problem. When you’re a brand new writer who desires to self-publish, it is advisable to have a stable advertising and marketing plan in thoughts. Social media, paid promoting, and e-mail advertising and marketing might be useful. Plus, it helps should you can create a longtime platform or community in your discipline previous to launching your guide. 

Plenty of aspiring authors attain out to me to ask for recommendation. I attempt to be as useful as I can, however I at all times inform them that the most important factor is placing within the time and doing the analysis. All of us have various things in our lives that we’re balancing.

Once I wrote and printed this guide, I used to be instructing full-time and working a enterprise on TPT. I’m additionally very family-oriented and need to spend so much of high quality time with my husband and two younger daughters. It could’ve been simple to say I don’t have sufficient time or had an excessive amount of on my plate, however when one thing issues sufficient to you, you make the time.

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