Publishing Your First Teacher Book

by Guy E. White on 13 November, 2014

My candid guide on how to publish your first book.

This article is much longer than the others that pervade this website. This is my definitive guide to getting your first teacher book published. I currently have 3 books on shelves and reader devices. Here, I share the wealth.

Publishing my first teacher book was one of the grandest moments of my career, not because I made a lot of money (I didn’t) or because I got lots of acclaim and admiration from my peers (I also didn’t). Rather, it was one of the grandest moments of my career because I got something utterly HUGE completed.

Lesson one about writing your first book as a teacher: it takes complete, unfaltering discipline to write it.

Through lots of hard work, I got my first book written, packaged, and finally on to shelves.

While this article is meant to provide as much information as possible on this subject, I definitely cannot provide every single detail on this here (that would take a year). Consider subscribing to my exclusive email list (it’s free) to get more information on this topic as I write/record it.

Step One: Envisioning Your Book

The first step is to decide what type of book you are writing. First, go to a book store or hop on and start looking through books in the category in which you want to write. The key here is to become familiar with all that is being written in the world “around your potential book” before you write it.

The next step is to decide who your audience is. You should be able to specifically name the type of person (if not the exact human being) to which you are writing. Without disclosing any names, I actually have a picture of a certain educator that I keep next to my laptop screen when I’m about to write. Get ULTRA specific. Who is this person to which you are writing your book?

Third, buy this book about how to write a book proposal. Even if you have not wrote a single word of your book, go through the steps outlined inside. This will help you write a full book proposal in long form. Do every step except for writing the three sample chapters.

Fourth, take the book proposal you created (minus the sample chapters) and condense it down to a single page.

Finally, again (please make sure this is a separate, final step) concentrate your one-page proposal down to a SINGLE sentence. What is your book? Who is it written for?

Step Two: Choosing at the Fork in the Road

It’s at this stage that you get to make one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make as a writer: do you intend on having your book published by (1) one of the big publishers, (2) a small indie publisher, or (3) yourself (also known as self-published)?

Which option is best? That’s a hard decision to make!

Big-box publishers will offer you all the services outlined in steps four and five below. In fact, one of the advantages of this option is that you don’t even have to write a full book before you send it to a publisher for review. You only have to, typically, write the first three chapters. The major downside to this option is the waiting game. It can take more than six months to a year to hear a yes or no. Also, some publishers will not take “unsolicited” manuscripts, meaning that you must work with a literary agent. That’s a whole series of articles I could write here. Getting published by Sage or another one of the big publishers could be game-changing for your life and career.

Indie publishers are quite similar to the above, but they provide significantly faster turn-around time. They want your book, as long as you are willing to work hard to market it. Further, they will want you to pay money up front, or give up more royalty money to have them take a chance on you. They are taking a huge risk on your book, so they will want some concessions from you. Another drawback is that they won’t often have the catalog and marketing apparatus that the big publishers will have. Also, the name recognition is not there, so it won’t necessarily be a huge feather in your cap to be published by an indie publisher.


A final option is to self-publish, which is NOT for the faint of heart. It is exceedingly expensive to self-publish a book. You should expect to spend $3000-$5000, modestly, to bring your book to print (see below). For more information about this option before you choose it, read the first chapters of this book.

If you choose to publish with a traditional or indie publisher, stop here and only complete the above. Steps 3-5 only apply to self-publishers.

Step Three: Write Write Write

Now that you have your proposal (which is effectively an outline of your book), it’s time to start writing.

Begin by creating a Word document that is a skeleton of your book. Include all the chapter blanks, section breaks, and everything that is not the actual thick text of the book inside a plain double-spaced Word document.

Next, start thinking back to the size of your book that you determined in your proposal. As a general rule, 1.5 pages of double spaced text will fill up a single page in a normal book. So, if you want to write a 200 page book, you’ll want to write about 300 pages in double spaced form. Do some division, and determine how many pages should be written per chapter. Make sure you write down that number!

Now that you know how many pages you should write per chapter, it’s time to start writing the text of your book. Start by writing the first three chapters. You might want to skip the “introduction” first and write chapters 2-3 first. It’s an odd thing, but you’ll find that it’s easier to write these chapters beforehand. Write write write and see how long it takes to complete a chapter.

Set a time of the day that is only for writing. Turn off everything that is not absolutely necessary for that writing. No internet! No phone! Nothing! Write for a pre-set amount of time without stopping. If you plan on writing for more than 45 minutes in a sitting, you are hard core: write for 45, pause for 15, and then return and write more.

Write until you have a book finished. This is the hardest part of getting a book done: writing it. If you are not writing it, there’s no book.

Step Four: Editing Hell and Heaven

Now it’s time to edit. Chances are, your first draft is going to need major revisions. It’s at this point that you want to hire a great editor to look at your work and make content recommendations. I do not recommend utilizing any editors offered to you through self-publishing services. Many of my clients have been significantly let down by these services. Instead, you need to find an amazing book editor. A Google search can reveal many options. This is EXPENSIVE.

As you are hiring the person above, discuss with them an option to re-hire them for the grammar and spell checking draft that will result after you complete the next round of revisions. If you work with them, and paid them, for major revision recommendations, they will most likely provide you with a reduced rate for the final draft editing.

Step Five: The Fun Stuff

After you are completely done with creating the text, and I do mean COMPLETELY done, it’s time to start thinking about cover art.

There are many options here. In my opinion, you need to find someone who is truly a master at cover design. You can get covers designed on the cheap for around $499, but I, frankly, don’t think those covers are any good. Most great covers will cost you $3000 and up. Set a budget that works for you.

Above all else: NEVER design the cover yourself unless you are truly a seasoned book cover expert.

Also, it’s time to get your text formally set by a professional typesetter. This will cost you around $500-$1000 and up (depending on how great you want those fonts and typography to look). I love this step, because you are truly about to see your work come to life!

Now What?

Well, now it’s time to combine your book cover design with your typeset interior and send off to a professional printer. This is a complicated process. I recommend reading those books mentioned above for more info on this.

Was this helpful? What are your questions about getting your first book to print?

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