Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Do You Think There Gaps In Books about Homeschooling?

Yesterday a friend tried to convince me that I should write a book about homeschooling.

I replied that first if I wrote a book it would be secular and inclusive. It would not be a book with a lot of Christian content. I feel that some or many Christian homeschoolers will only read books that are written by and for Christian homeschoolers. So that locks a secular book that I may publish from being purchased by that segment of the population.

So Many Books on the Market Already!
Secondly I feel that so many topics have already been covered in homeschooling books. I have read almost every secular homeschooling book that has been published. I have read books that are now out of print and I have read books that are still in print. Some books repeat what others say. Some are targeted to specific topics and cover it well. You may think that another book on that same topic may be good while another customer or publisher may say that one or two books on that topic is already enough and it would not get published or it would not sell.

There are how-to get started books. There are general books on the topic of homeschooling. There are books on each type of homeschooling method. There are books in which the writer tells a lot of personal stories, a homeschooling journey full of details type of memoir. There are highly opinionated books. There are more general vague books. There are books that are very preach-y and advice-giving. There are books that lay out many options and let the reader pick their choices without judgment.

There are also books about the problems with education, with public education, with institutional schooling in general. There are books about past education reform movements and their failure. There are books about alternative education methods and theories.

Publishing Houses vs. Self-Publishing
I am not sure I want to deal with publishers. I don’t know how many non-authors realize that the writing of the book is one thing but it is entirely another job to work with a publisher, get the book published, then the work and author has to do to help market and sell the book after publication.

I have read that most book projects will pay an author right around $5K, unless the book is a bestseller and the writer had a fantastic contract. Is it worth it to publish a book for the purpose of making money if the pay is so little compared to the time it takes to write it and get it published?

Another friend is pushing me to self-publish a book (she has several ideas for books she thinks I’d be qualified to write). Learning about self-publishing is another whole project in and of itself.

Free Information vs. Books
My other concern or doubt is that due to the increase in free information about homeschooling, mostly due to the Internet, some homeschooling parents are not interested in paying about $10 for a book about homeschooling.

My experience with homeschooling families is that most try to save money and will find and consume free information more than running out to buy a book. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to who say they really, really want more information on a certain topic and when I suggest a perfect book to answer their need, they say they are not willing to buy a book about it! Instead they want free information such as that supplied by homeschool support group leaders (by phone or email) or oral information from other homeschooling parents.

We also have so many websites and blogs that provide free information, advice, and personal stories about homeschooling that no one person could ever read it all. The weekly Carnival of Homeschooling provides what I feel is a free magazine about homeschooling.

For more of a back and forth conversation and to get answers to specific questions answered quickly, so many homeschoolers use email discussion groups (i.e. Yahoo Groups!) or other online chat boards/bulletin boards. If a person wants to know a great book for teaching history on a narrow topic for a sixth grader they can ask a group for living book loving homeschoolers. If you want to discuss classical homeschooling you can join a classical homeschooling group. If you want to talk about an issue with Math-U-See's curriculum there is the Math-U-See User Yahoo Group. The same goes for nature study with the Charlotte Mason method and for lapbooking and notebooking. There are groups for large families, for children with special needs, for gifted children and on and on. The free discussion groups about narrow topics for homeschooling seem endless.

There are certain types of book-readers and book-lovers (like me) who prefer reading books and will always buy books, but we are not the bulk of the population (according to statistics that I’ve read).

Please Tell Me What Do You Think!
I’d love to hear your opinion on if you think there is a gap in homeschooling topics in the book market.

What do you want to read about that you feel is not already covered?

Are there topics which have books already but you feel you need more?

Are there gaps in the topics of how to teach certain subjects?

Do you like homeschool memoir type books?

Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts or you can send me a private email. You can find my email address by clicking through the right sidebar link, under my photo, to ‘view my complete profile’ then look to the left sidebar under the “contact” heading.

Thanks in advance for sharing your opinions.

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3 comments:

Dawn said...

I'm one of those that didn't read a lot of the book. Some yes, but I found most of them were a rehash of what I could find on the internet. The books I really did enjoy however were either memoirs or collections of stories about homeschoolers. Ones that let me get a real glimpse into how homeschooling happened with real families.

Shawna said...

As a published authoronly about 2% of unknown writers make it into the big publishing houses...so yes, you get stuck marketing your own book otherwise. Self-publishing is good, but not if you have to publish with a vanity publisher (publish a certain number of books up front and sale them yourself.) However, some self-publishers are now offering marketing packages :-) Either way, you will probably be doing some marketing.

My homeschooling readings have me enjoying educationa lfoundings. I also like the homeschooling movement as a whole...but personal stories and success stories are very inspiring and motivating.

What I would love to read abouth though would be some of those cases that do not work out and why. I am reading tons of stories and books about how and why homeschooling is so great, but I know there are those out there who have failed at it, who feel cheated by it, who really wished they had been given a choice and/or put into a public/private school. Some of those stories balances with the success stories would paint a truer picture of what homeschooling is and what works and what the pitfalls may be.

Shawna said...

Where is that darn edit button LOL

I am trying to catch up on blog readings after being so busy...can you tell I was up late last night????