Using Print on Demand to Publish Your Own Books

New print technologies make it very easy to publish your own books. No need for the information gatekeepers to decide what we read. I’m showcasing a few approaches that may be of interest to my readers. 
Reading recovery teacher publishes new line of early literacy book
MaryAnn McAlpinand I worked together in the East Irondequoit Central School district while I was the Assistant Superintendent and she was the lead Reading Recovery teacher. I was not surprised when she recently started writing and publishing emergent texts. Although not my area of expertise, it certainly is MaryAnn’s.  She has a remarkable background in and passion for early literacy. She came to the East Irondequoit district just for the opportunity to train in and practice Reading Recovery.
MaryAnn’s Short Tale Press, features “little” books for early literacy that are based on real people and places and authentic life experiences. I can see my own grandchildren in her main character, Colin. This makes her books very appealing to modern children.  Parents and grandparents would be wise to visit her website when gift time rolls around, which we know is all the time! They are also written to be appropriate for students in Reading Recovery, ESL and classroom guided reading.   Visit her website-there is always a new text there – she is a prolific writer / publisher. 
Out of print author tired of rejections turns to self publishing
My dear friend and mentor – Abe Rothberg got tired of rejection notices for his latest works of fiction. Ironic – since his previous books were published by mainstream publishers and favorably reviewed in NY Times, Harper’s, Time Magazine, and Publishers Weekly. Plus he was frustrated to see that his previous work had gone out of print. 
We decided to cut out the middleman  - team up and bring a new series of his work into publication. He supplied the manuscripts. I formatted them in Word and converted them to PDF. I designed the covers in Photoshop. We created a free account to publish the books on demand at – a print-on-demand publisher. For more on Abe and his books go to to his site – Abraham Rothberg
Teachers – it’s your turn to become a publisher for your students’ writing
I think we need to re-think how we teach writing with a shift in focus from teacher to student.
Old approach:
  • Students are asked to write only on the teacher’s topics.
  • Student writes for the teacher.
  • Teacher grades their writing.
New approach: 
  • Students can develop topics that matter to them.
  • Audience and purpose for writing is identified. 
  • Students are asked to reflect on their growth.
We all struggle to create authentic writing experiences for our students. Imagine if they had an opportunity to see their work in print – and we’re talking about a real paperback.  Let them go through the process of writing, co-editing, illustrating and designing a book. Rigor and relevance meets motivation and self-directed study. I’ve gotten so excited by the results that I’ve done workshops to train teachers. You can see material and sample student books at my website Read > Think > Write > Publish
BTW – I’ve been following Theresa Reagan on Twitter. She’s an Elementary Principal from Michigan who is making great use of Lulu to publish student work.  See her students’ books on their Lulu page 

2 Replies to “Using Print on Demand to Publish Your Own Books”

  1. Hi, Peter, saw your tweet about this and came by to check it out. You are absolutely right: self-publishing is a great option for educators. I self-published my book “The Cornerstone: Classroom Management That Makes Teaching More Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable”.

    The profit margin is low with print-on-demand, though. After about 9 months on the market, I started my own POD publishing company, Due Season Press, and have much more creative control over my book. Starting one’s own POD company is relatively simple, too, and is a definite option for educators.

    I totally agree with your statement about being our own ‘information gatekeepers’…that’s a powerful sentiment, and I’m excited to see more and more people buying into it. 🙂

  2. Hi Angela,

    I agree about starting your own POD house. A few educators and I have partnered with ColorCentric (they publish all of Lulu’s books) in Rochester NY. We have a set up a learning lab to teach educators how to self publish using Lulu and a variety of other publishing options.

    In the pre digital days their was an asymmetry between publishing and reading – that’s gone now!


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