Australian educator Christian Williams saw a unique opportunity to support girls with a passion for reading, writing, and illustration; by bringing the power of self-publishing into the classroom. He designed a free Authors’ Accelerator program through Mentone Girl’s Grammar, Enterprise Academy, to give aspiring, young authors all over Melbourne a chance to create and publish their own books with Blurb.
The girls received one-on-one mentorship from a best-selling children’s author, professional editor, and acclaimed writers and illustrators to help prepare their books for publication. After printing 10 copies of each book, the class held a launch event at a local bookstore to celebrate the students’ work.
We caught up with Christian to get his thoughts on the program debut and to hear about the girls’ experience in their own words.
1. Were you writing, drawing, or doing creative work as a young student? Did you have any mentors that inspired you?
As a kid, I absolutely loved reading and writing, but I never had the self-belief or confidence to take it further. I was not good at writing in class and did not have the marks I needed to study creative writing, so I gave up on that dream very early in life.
2. How did you decide to pursue a teaching career?
I was very lucky to be able to follow my dream of becoming an athlete as a kid and it was an amazing experience. I wanted to give as many kids as possible the opportunity to live their own dreams, so I became a teacher.
3. What is your personal experience with self-publishing or publishing in general?
I never had any real experience with self-publishing but it didn’t look that hard. As a teacher, sometimes you do not need to be an expert, just willing to learn new skills yourself.
4. What inspired you to create this pilot program specifically for girls?
We knew that a few of our girls had dreams to become authors so we created this program to see if there were others that felt the same. The most important work we do in the Enterprise Academy is to give girls the opportunity to be bold and live their dreams. We were overwhelmed with the amount of interest in the program and will definitely have to run it again because there are so many amazing authors in our classrooms just waiting for the opportunity to be discovered. This is just the beginning!
5. How did you select the professional team you collaborated with?
All the experts in our program were hand-picked not only because they are the best at what they do, but because of their passion for supporting and empowering students through literacy. The most important members of the team were our Enterprise Academy associates, current students who are passionate about supporting the learning of others. They made the magic happen.
6. What does the curriculum look like during each day of the program?
The 4-day program was structured to give the girls as much one-on-one support and feedback from experts and their peers as possible. In the Enterprise Academy, we focus greatly on creating a learning environment where the girls can learn from each other and find the gold and potential that they already have inside themselves.
7. What do you hope your students learn from the process?
I think these reflections from the girls sum it up best:
“I have improved my writing and drawing skills and I am proud of the work I did because I achieved everything to the best of my ability.”
– Amritha, author of Wish Upon a Fox
“I have learnt a lot about the ‘real world’ side of becoming a published author and the importance of leverage and negotiation. I am feeling much more confident in myself and my work.” – Genevieve, author of The Balance
“Every part of the Authors’ Accelerator program was fun, educational, and funny. I am confident in my ability to succeed and feel proud of what I did in the Enterprise Academy.” – Annabella, author of The Sacred Jewel
“I’m extremely proud of my work and a lot more confident now because of all the support. I have grown in confidence and creativity and I believe in myself more.” –Paige, author of It’s Not Punny
8. You planned a special launch event at a local bookstore with the girls’ books on display for purchase. How else will you be promoting the students’ books?
The book launch was a huge success and all the girls’ books sold out! We are still working on organizing a book tour for our amazing authors.
9. Why was marketing the books an important part of the process?
This program was not just about publishing books, it was about giving the girls the tools and resources to succeed and continue to thrive as professional authors, and marketing was a part of that. Each girl received all the profits from all of their book sales and now have everything they need to continue printing and selling their books today and into the future.
10. What does the future of this program look like to you? Will you make it a regular part of your curriculum or evolve it in any way?
Watch this space!
Feeling inspired to launch a self-publishing project of your own? Check out the Blurb Bookstore for great ideas. If you’re ready to start designing your own book or magazine, download BookWright, our free desktop publishing tool and bring your idea to life.