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


In her 15 years of instructing second grade, Shannon Olsen by no means supposed to turn into a best-selling kids’s guide creator. She simply couldn’t discover the kind of guide she was on the lookout for to make use of in her classroom, so she determined to jot down it herself.

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

Seems, Shannon wasn’t the one one who needed a guide with this theme. Since she first printed it in Might 2020, greater than 130,000 copies have been offered. The guide additionally reached the #1 spot for kids’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 creator whereas nonetheless working as a trainer, and we realized a lot. Check out how she actually defied the chances of turning into a best-selling kids’s guide creator. And it was all impressed by her life as a trainer!

WeAreTeachers: Do you’ve gotten a background in writing? 

SO: I’ve all the time needed to be an creator since I used to be a child. Actually, I truly knew I needed to be an creator earlier than I knew I needed to be a trainer. I majored in English at UC Irvine and minored in schooling, however that’s my solely writing background. I turned extra impressed to jot down kids’s books after I began making different sources 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 to 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 attention-grabbing to you? 

SO: Similar to many academics, one of many issues I’ve all the time instructed my lessons is that we’re like a household. It not solely makes classroom administration and sophistication neighborhood 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 certainly one of my favourite childhood authors, Beverly Cleary. She as soon as stated, “Should 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 tips on how to go about publishing a guide, so I began reaching out to make connections. I spent a number of time doing analysis concerning the completely different choices, like conventional publishing vs. self-publishing. Initially, I believed I needed to strive the normal route. Then I noticed that even on the slim likelihood {that a} conventional writer would settle for my guide, it might nonetheless take years earlier than I’d even have the guide in my fingers. So I believed I’d give self-publishing a go as an alternative. I figured even when no one purchased the guide, not less than I went for it after which might learn it to my college students. 

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

SO: The illustrations had been actually essential to me as a result of, as a trainer, I do know you may have a fantastic story or guide, however if you happen to don’t have the fitting illustrations or visuals to go together with it that it received’t work. I spent a number of time—hours and hours—trying to find and contacting completely different illustrators. I lastly discovered Sandie Sonke, who didn’t stay too distant from me in Southern California. Apart from her expertise, I liked that she was open to collaboration.

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

SO: As a busy working mother, my time could be very priceless to me. I knew that I’d most likely be capable of save a number 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 know the way your work can be perceived, however the instructing neighborhood 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 firms, together with a few “massive 5” publishers, attain out to me. I’m humbled that some have made me very beneficiant provides 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 inventive side of being an creator and never a lot the enterprise and funds, however my husband is like my CFO and is a good 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 just lately signal an settlement for an unique version of Our Class is a Household to be launched with a serious retailer, which can be popping out this summer season. 

WeAreTeachers: Are you engaged on any new tasks? 

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 creator visits, which has been a enjoyable new journey to this point. 

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

SO: Writing the guide is the simple half. It’s all the pieces that comes after that’s the problem. Should you’re a brand new creator who desires to self-publish, it’s good to have a strong advertising and marketing plan in thoughts. Social media, paid promoting, and e-mail advertising and marketing may be useful. Plus, it helps if you happen to can create a longtime platform or community in your discipline previous to launching your guide. 

Numerous aspiring authors attain out to me to ask for recommendation. I attempt to be as useful as I can, however I all the time 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 operating 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 will’ve been straightforward 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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