Monday, July 15, 2019

The Process of Self-Publishing Using Kindle Direct Publishing

Lady Lightning Fingers with some students that
actually graduated high school this year
For many years when I was an elementary technology teacher, my alter-ego "Lady Lightning Fingers" would show up to challenge students in their timed typing tests. The kids loved the persona and would look forward to her showing up occasionally. It has been a few years since I've had the opportunity to become this make-shift superhero due to moving out of the classroom and into more of an edtech coaching role. Every year I still go into the elementary classrooms and do lessons on the 9 elements of digital citizenship with concepts based on grade level appropriateness. While this may sound odd, I always make sure I teach about digital citizenship in "unplugged" ways because no matter what age, I focus on the importance of students finding their balance between real life and their online presence.
Two years ago I was in the shower (where most of my great ideas start) and a book series concept came to mind that would support teaching our students about digital citizenship in an unplugged way. I actually got out of the shower without finishing because some great rhymes were "washing over me" (see what I did there?) and the concept of the first book began! In a week I had the rough draft of 3 books created that all supported different aspects of digital citizenship with "Lady Lightning Fingers" as the superhero that makes cameo appearances in them all.
Because this concept was directly tied to the students at my school, I wanted it to run with that idea. I sought out students to create the illustrations but had a hard time finding what I needed. One day I was discussing the concept with a fellow educator at our school and she said "Have you seen Daniel Grissom's Instagram? I think he could do it." At first glance, I immediately knew he could take my ho-hum idea and make it spectacular. Thankfully, he said "yes!"
Over the last few months, Mr. Grissom worked to create amazingly vivid and compelling graphics for what has now become the first book, But What if it Wasn't a Sardine Delivery Man? (The Digital Citizenship Adventures of Lady Lightning Fingers)Most authors would say that he has created splendid artwork to support the writing but I would be remiss if I didn't admit that I think Daniel's characters actually are what makes this book worth it!
From the beginning, it was my desire to self-publish. I felt like this would be a great opportunity for the newly appointed Director of Instructional Technology and INNOVATION to model innovative practices to teachers, students, school families, and beyond. I chose to create every step of this book with the tools that our students have access to all the time. I created high-resolution scans of Mr. Grissom's artwork on our school's multi-functional printer. I imported them into Google Drive. I opened a Google Doc and anywhere I wanted an illustration, I would pull it into Google Draw to add it. As time went on, I got more creative and started realizing I could place text boxes anywhere on the scans and little by little the book started feeling creative and worthy of the being called "a picture book."
Little did I know that Kindle Direct Publishing actually has free tools that would have allowed me to do these same things a bit easier (I ended up downloading the free Kindle Kid's Book Creator software to create the e-book version of But What if it Wasn't a Sardine Delivery Man? (The Digital Citizenship Adventures of Lady Lightning Fingers). I do love knowing that I created the entire book using Google Suite for Education products and that this could be done on our student's Chromebooks as well.
I know that if Mr. Daniel Grissom will take on the concept again for the next book in the series, it will be better. I learned so much in this process! I hope I can now share the "how" with our teachers and students to empower them to be self-published authors as well. My definition of innovation has always been "the intersection of need and passion under an umbrella of creativity." As an educator, I felt I had a need for quality unplugged resources to teach the 9 elements of digital citizenship to our students. I had a passion to see those resources come to fruition; with the help of Daniel Grissom's creativity, we have innovatively created our first published Digital Citizenship resource for our school (and anyone else that might find it's value).
This particular book looks at the importance of students being mindful of digital security and privacy. At the end of the book are possible discussion questions to spark critical thinking on the concept. It is my desire to place a book in each of our k-5th-grade classrooms this year. It is also my desire that my alter-ego, "Lady Lightning Fingers", might be asked to read the book occasionally. If you are interested, you can get your paperback or Kindle version from Amazon.




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