Riverwood Elementary students penning novels

Posted by Virginia Bridges on May 18, 2014 

  • Tips from the author

    Writing advice from Emily Meinert:

    •  Devote time to writing your book.

    • Look at the world around you for writing inspiration.

    •  Create memorable characters.

    • Plan your plotline before your start writing your story.

    • Proofread your book when complete.

At age 9, when most kids begin reading chapter books, Emily Meinert has already published her first novel.

Emily received a copy of her first book, “Bug-Sized” in the mail earlier this month.

“It just awed me,” said Emily, a third-grader at Riverwood Elementary in Clayton. “It was so cool.”

Emily was one of about 30 students who participated in the publishing club.

Special Education teacher LiAnn Cheong founded the club last fall on a mission to encourage students to write by walking them through a publishing process, she said.

“You get them to just finish the story and see it in print, so that they will be more enthusiastic about writing it the next time,” Cheong said.

The club uses an online curriculum outlined by National Novel Writing Month, a Berkeley, Calif.-based nonprofit. The organization encourages adults and students to set a word count goal and write a novel during the month of November.

Chris Angotti, program director for the group, said about 100,000 children in kindergarten to 12th grade participated in its online Young Writers Program last year. About 40 percent hit their word count goal, Angotti said, earning them a free copy of their book through CreateSpace.

A few thousand student participants publish their books, Angotti said.

In general, authors can set their own list prices with Amazon’s free indie publishing platforms, CreateSpace for print and Kindle Direct Publishing for eBooks, according to Amazon spokesperson Brittany Turner.

Authors who use CreateSpace receive between 40 percent to 80 percent of the book’s revenue. Authors can earn up to 70 percent of the revenue from Kindle eBooks.

Emily set her book price at $3.99 on Amazon for the print edition, but the company was offering it last week at $2.88 for a paperback and $2.74 for a Kindle edition. Emily receives 24 cents for each copy sold, she said. So far she has sold about 15.

The Riverwood Elementary club started meeting in October to brainstorm ideas and set goals to write between 2,000 and 5,000 words. They met every week in November while writing and then once a month to proofread and edit the copy.

Emily and Abby Ford, 9, a third-grader, were the first students to have their books published on Amazon. The name of Abby’s book is “Being Greene.” The 26-page paperback is about a middle school student starting at a new school.

About 20 other students are still participating in the publishing club and working on their books, Cheong said.

The plot for Emily’s 34-page paperback “Bug-Sized” was influenced from a previous reading of “James and the Giant Peach,” by Roald Dahl and the idea to use a bug as a main character, Emily said.

“Basically, it is about a girl who loves bugs,” Emily said. One day she is shrunk by one of her father’s inventions. “She eventually meets a bunch of bugs, and they go on adventures together.”

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