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writing a kids' science book


nudibranche
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Hey guys, this is a bit random, but I have this crazy dream of one day writing a science book for kids. It's always been one of my ambitions, but sadly it is very far from being a concrete thing at this point in time, but I realised that if I ever want this to happen, I need to first learn the first thing about publishing a book. So I was hoping someone might have a bit of experience with this - maybe if you or someone you know already published a book? I am not talking about a proper science text book, just a sweet book for kids to get into science. I mean this sounds silly, but how do you even choose your title? How do you decide on the cover? I just want to hear how other people did it - hopefully at least one person might have some experience with this :)

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You have multiple options. You can

 

A) Get a company to publish the book for you

B) You can get the book printed and publish it yourself

 

Once you have decided on a title. You can

 

A) Hire a graphic designer to design a cover page for you and potentially a logo as well.

B) You can design the cover yourself. (May not work out less expensive if you are bad at art)

 

You need to decide on the media you would like to publish your book on.

 

A) Internet

B) Audio Book

C) Paperback

D) Hardback

 

You need to decide on how your book will be marketed to the general public.

 

A) In book stores

B) In conferences

C) Facebook

D) Twitter

E) Radio

F) Television

 

Of course there is various costs associated with each of these and it completely depends on your country. Many bookstores such as easons will allow you to self-publish your own book but you have to make contact with them yourself and they have to think your book will sell. http://www.easonhelpcentre.com/knowledgebase/self-publishing/

You should also properly copyright your book.

Edited by fiveworlds
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First, I think this is a fine ambition and should be encouraged. The desire to share knowledge is, in my view, a hallmark of any scientist. I compliment you on the intention.

 

Fiveworlds has given, what seems to me, a great, comprehensive overview of your major alternatives. I wanted to focus in on one small area that concerned me. You said this:

 

I mean this sounds silly, but how do you even choose your title? How do you decide on the cover? I just want to hear how other people did it - hopefully at least one person might have some experience with this :)

 

The title and the cover are aspects of the marketing of the book. Marketing the book is, of course, vital. If no one knows about it then it fails in its aim to educate and enthuse young people about science. However, as the author you need to be focused - at least until it is written - on the structure and content of the book.

 

I am worried that if you are finding a title difficult to choose, that you will really be floored by what topics you will cover, how you will introduce them, what depth you will go into, etc. What age ranges are you targeting? Do you intend to promote the findings of science, or the methods of science? If the latter, what experiments and projects do you plan to include? Have you fully considered the safety aspects of each? Are you going to "translate" scientific language into everyday words? What hook(s) are you going to use to get your readers to keep reading, or to try the experiments? What style are you going to write the book in? How far are you going to dumb down the concepts? Are you going to include the history of some scientific ideas, or go straight to our current understanding? And so on......

 

I suggest that until you have answers to these questions and more, then concern over a book title, or cover, are irrelevant.

 

One caveat: although I have written a ton of technical manuals, these have all been for internal use. I have never published, or attempted to have published, a book. Pay more heed to any member who has done so than to me.

 

Good luck.

 

P.S. as to the title ......

 

 

The Kid's Science Book

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Hey guys, I can't thank you enough for the encouraging words and all the information you shared! It is such a great help for me, it's sometimes so hard to google these things, I just really prefer hearing peoples' experience about it - so much more helpful. I think in my case (and this is purely theoretical at this point in time, but this is just the way I see it now) I would prefer a publishing company to help me, just because I am so green to the business. And I am guessing they might have graphic designers as part of the team - or are these always separate? I just like the idea of having someone who supports me throughout the whole process. But I know the costs are accordingly higher.

And Ophiolite, you ahve given me a lot to think about - which is great :) I guess some of these ideas aren't yet quite fleshed out, but I was thinking 8-10 years olds as an initial range, and about the topics, I was hoping to cover, superficially of course, all main areas of science, all the different fields that is - so a bit of oceanography, a bit of earth science, a bit of biology, metaphysics, astronomy, etc... I agree that it might end up being either too much, or too broad, but these are my initial thoughts.

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You have to keep in mind that simplifying science in such a way that it is understandable to kids without being horrendously wrong is actually very, very, very difficult. Much more difficult than for example a college-level textbook. Even by being superficial the big question is how superficial can you be and still explain things and (ideally) only be slightly wrong?

 

Mind you, I think if done well that these books are fantastic, but in my mind they are also extremely challenging.

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The project sounds a good idea, but as CharonY suggests it could be more difficult than you think. That said, we all still encourage you to write the book.

 

As a side comment, I have also wondered about trying to write a book, aimed at young teens, on mathematics encouraging them to discover thing by 'experiments'. Some day I will have to make a serious attempt at writing such a book.

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Have some sort of degree in science, it helps science books get published and picked up by schools, believe me, EVERY science book I've ever had to work in was written by someone with a formal degree, mostly people with Doctorates in chemistry if it's chemistry or whatever in whatever, Basically follow fiveworld's steps, get a degree if you don't have one, and listen to ajb's advice carefully, he's much smarter than even he believes.

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The thing to consider for such a book is that it should be entertaining and captivating as well as educational. An adult can often make a conscious decision to pick up a science book and read it to learn something new, but depending on the age group you're targeting great percentage of kids won't be thrilled about the idea of reading a book that is just pure plain science so you have to trick them into reading it regardless.

 

As for me some of the great childhood memories about science came from Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island" as well as other his books. If you haven't read it I'd strongly suggest that you do. The story of the book is extremely interesting but at the same time it introduces a lot of science and engineering problems that the group of guys have to solve to be able to survive on a remote island. And not only did they just manage to survive but they went on to build an industrial community with little but their wits about. While in the book itself a lot of science is quite dodgy but basically if I were you I'd write something like it but with more scientific accuracy.

 

Another book to have a look at is Andy Weir's "The Martian" on which the recent box office hit movie is based. This book gives you some very accurate science (mostly) with an extremely engaging story and the best thing about it is that it gives amazing insights on scientific problem solving and makes super-nerdy engineering fun.

 

Hope that helps!

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Thanks for all the great pieces of advice everyone.

I realize the task at hand is not an easy one - at this stage it's more gathering ideas for me anyways so nothing is set in stone yet :)

And concerning the degree - I have two master's, one in environmental science and one in marine biology, so I am hoping that will help along the way !

I really want to read the Martian, so thanks for reminding me :) I do love Jules Verne, and have read the mysterious island (in French that is, since it's my mother tongue).

Does anyone have any more thoughts on self-publishing vs. going with a publishing house?

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Hey guys, this is a bit random, but I have this crazy dream of one day writing a science book for kids. It's always been one of my ambitions, but sadly it is very far from being a concrete thing at this point in time, but I realised that if I ever want this to happen, I need to first learn the first thing about publishing a book. So I was hoping someone might have a bit of experience with this - maybe if you or someone you know already published a book? I am not talking about a proper science text book, just a sweet book for kids to get into science. I mean this sounds silly, but how do you even choose your title? How do you decide on the cover? I just want to hear how other people did it - hopefully at least one person might have some experience with this :)

Please do, we need to get kids more interested in science. However I would suggest you write it in a way that is simple for people to grasp. A lot of schools these days fail at educating and there is a lot of wasted potentiol in youth we simply do not utilize.

 

I would like to see a book that can teach coding, engineering, chemistry to younger students at ages like 9-12. Since the schools are a mess right now and I wish we could see more happening with young people. If you want to know about writing structure I know it very well and wrote for many years. If you want to find a publisher you can go to places like Writercafe and Writing.com just look up writing websites they will show you a publisher. If you want a suggestion on a cover for the book feel free to PM me, and ill get back to you as soon as possible.

Edited by ThinkingMind
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but I was thinking 8-10 years olds as an initial range, and about the topics, I was hoping to cover, superficially of course, all main areas of science, all the different fields that is - so a bit of oceanography, a bit of earth science, a bit of biology, metaphysics, astronomy, etc... I agree that it might end up being either too much, or too broad, but these are my initial thoughts

 

All too many books for science follow the stuffy 'lecture at the audience' approach.

Even those with the most amazing graphics that are really showy.

This makes the reader passive, except perhaps for forced 'exercises'.

This sort of thing is fine for those who are already interested but will not stimulate those who are not.

 

Science is about doing.

8-10 year olds are about doing.

 

So I suggest you use this fact to create a book that they can do with, and learn some scinece along the way.

 

Perhaps a bit like the National Treasure films (But with real science).

Perhaps a crime mystery withs lots of CSI

But present them with problems and take then through solutions, and choice of solutions.

Old fashioned science teaching often promoted the idea that there is only one solution.

So

I am suggesting you create a theme or challenge to work through.

 

This could be the basis for a series of books if the idea turns out successful.

 

:)

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All too many books for science follow the stuffy 'lecture at the audience' approach.

Even those with the most amazing graphics that are really showy.

This makes the reader passive, except perhaps for forced 'exercises'.

This sort of thing is fine for those who are already interested but will not stimulate those who are not.

 

Science is about doing.

8-10 year olds are about doing.

 

So I suggest you use this fact to create a book that they can do with, and learn some scinece along the way.

 

Perhaps a bit like the National Treasure films (But with real science).

Perhaps a crime mystery withs lots of CSI

But present them with problems and take then through solutions, and choice of solutions.

Old fashioned science teaching often promoted the idea that there is only one solution.

So

I am suggesting you create a theme or challenge to work through.

 

This could be the basis for a series of books if the idea turns out successful.

 

:)

I very much agree with this. You should be teaching people to understand things, not telling them what to know. I also think the public school system would be better off using this method vs heavy text books telling people what is important vs how it works.

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I very much agree with this. You should be teaching people to understand things, not telling them what to know. I also think the public school system would be better off using this method vs heavy text books telling people what is important vs how it works.

However, you cannot readily teach creative writing until the individual has learned the letters of the alphabet. That can be boring. Making the basics interesting is the challenge to be faced.

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However, you cannot readily teach creative writing until the individual has learned the letters of the alphabet. That can be boring. Making the basics interesting is the challenge to be faced.

Yes, but that still goes into understanding a language. You can tell a person what a B and A sound likes all you want but that does not mean they understand how to read. Teaching a person to read is actually is a challenge. However once you get past that simple obstacle most thing become easy.

 

Also learning the basics is good, but at the same time a lot of schools drill the basics even when its no longer needed. My school made us do spider webs till the 12th grade, and do to the fact I been writing since I was in 2nd grade I could create a story without one. The Basics are for those who dont understand it but even if the students are advanced they still teach these worthless paper cutter classes and dont allow children to just experience things. In fact a lot of times my teachers accused me of cheating on things I wrote for class when they asked for stories. Not that I would ever cheat on something I took pride in. One teacher actually looked it up on the computer but couldn't find anything that matched it.

Edited by ThinkingMind
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Hello ThinkingMind. I see you have already edited your post. Now, your point is based - in part - on the fact that you have been writing since second grade and take pride in your writing. Therefore, you might like to do some further editing, in order to remove the dozen or so spelling, grammatical and typographical errors from your post.

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I am really grateful for all these tips and ideas :) You guys are great. I do have some ideas about illustrations and so on as drawing is a big passion of mine - how it will all come together is a mystery even to myself. But I definitely want it to be something that leads kids to think a bit outside the box, and not the most "traditional" way of teaching. I definitely think it will need some interactive aspects to be exciting and not just a dry textbook style book.

Just out of curiosity, I was checking out various UK publishing houses targeting young writers or first book writers, and one house that I seemed to come across a lot is Novum publishing. Has anyone heard of it, or knows anything about it?

On a side note: I know I was not targeted but I do apologise for any typos I might have had - I do type quite quickly and carelessly when on forums or chatting!

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A Forum is always a safe place to ask the wierdest question that bother you, so i think at least you can expect something to fond in here.

Yes, I heard of that publisher before, as a friend of mine did an successful book there, she also came a long way, not having studied literature or anything close to that, and no clue about design, cover layout etc. She had quite a good experience with their service - is there anything special you want to ask, so I can forward that to her?

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I totall agree :) Hence I am really grateful for all the great input so far!!!!!

Are you serious? That sounds like everyone's dream. So you would definitely recommend them? Do you know how they are on a personal level - i.e. is it a small house, do they take time for their writers and really support them? That is the main thing for me at the end of the day. And also what kind of Genres they publish (if there are any restrictions).

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Have you considered writing an ebook for Kindle (which can be read on a Kindle or any computer with a free Kindle App)?

It is quite easy, with the method easily found on the web, and is free to produce. The only downside, and it's a big one, is getting it advertised.

I have produced a book (albeit of poetry) and you can get an idea of what can be done - and what can be found on the internet if you click the link :)

 

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Innocence-Erotica-Poetry-Anthony-McCafferty-ebook/dp/B00BVAKQLQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448379046&sr=8-1&keywords=anthony+mccafferty

Edited by Joatmon
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Thanks a lot for sharing! And well done on having actually managed to publish something - I am envious :)

Yes I have considered it, however several points make me a bit reluctant: first of all, I am quite traditional and seem to still prefer physical paper books. The feel of them, their smell, etc. And the other important reason is that as I said, it would be important for me to have hand-drawn illustrations. And although it is possible to have those on kindle books, they are black and white, and it just isn't the same. So it would be a last resort option for what I am trying to do!

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I do not know if there are registrations regardin to the topic, I am also not quite sure waht you mean, are you writing something very out of line? Just have a look on their homepage and browse it a bit, to see if your genre is there or not. Cannot say anything more to that.

I think there is never a reason to be envious, alsways takes time untill everyone finds his or her way - sometimes its a long road to fullfill your dreams.

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Sorry what do you mean by registrations? No not "out of line" as such, but with the illustrations it just wouldn't be suitable for an e-book reader I guess.

Ok I'll just check what genres they do - I guess the only thing is that it isn't fictional. But looking at their website now, it sounds to me as if they published quite a vast array of genres, so maybe it wouldn't be any issue. Yes it's definitely a bumpy road to get to fulfill your dreams, but one can still be envious in a positive way, I guess I meant it more in an admirative sense :) Sometimes being envious is what drives you to reach your goals. Being envious and jealous are two different things for me, one is negative and the other positive. But maybe that's just my interpretation :) I'm not a native after all!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I feel like hearing a simple explanation of what science is early on can help immensely with Science further down the line in education. If you know Science is a process early on and you interpret the facts you learn in that light it helps you distinguish it from people who just blurt out random facts.

This video is a nice short explanation for kids to awesome music:

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