Grizzly Tales is published using the print on demand services of Lulu.com, so I am able to publish student work without any money up front. Here’s how it’s done.
First, students are given writing assignments throughout the year. I have students turn in both a paper and an electronic version of their final drafts. These are kept in portfolios. Near the end of the semester, students pick (or provide) a piece of writing for approval by the teacher for publishing. I give them at least a week to choose or create an alternative if the first selection is rejected. A paper copy is then printed and sent home with the permission slip. When students get approval from their parents, they are given teacher feedback and suggestions for revision for their work. Students have about two weeks to do revision and editing, including peer revision activities, to get their work in to the best possible state it can be. At the end of this period, students deliver an electronic final copy which will be compiled with other students’ work and uploaded to the printing website. I also print a copy and attach it to the permission slip. Students then add their signatures to the permission slip.
Lulu.com provides a lot of instructions on how to put together the files needed to make a book. There are many formats, but the typical novel is on 6×9 paper, so the students’ work must be copied and pasted into one long Word document that has a page size of 6×9. I use the table of contents feature in word to automatically figure out page numbers, though adding the proper codes is a bit time consuming.
An author using print on demand can just use the built in dust jacket wizard, but I chose to make a custom one in Photoshop. I have to adjust it each time based on the width of the spine which is based on number of pages the book.
After both the Word document and Photoshop image are converted to PDF (so that fonts and layout are printed exactly right), I upload both and add a book project to my Lulu.com account. I order a hardcover and paperback copy to make sure they turned out right. The hardcover ends up in my classroom, and I collect autographs in the paperback.
There are many print on demand services out there, so if you choose to use one, please peruse each site to find the one that best fits you. I hope to hear from students and teachers who also print on demand to get their writing out there!