How to Publish Student Writing

In 2015, my students wrote personal narratives. They kept their stories anonymous and then edited each other's work. In the months that followed, I looked for ways to publish their writing. We used You can see Behind the Door of G115 here. We held book signings, they were interviewed by the local newspaper, and all of the money was used for a huge cookout at the end of the school year and bean bag chairs that they wanted for the classroom. Lulu was a great option, but this time around, we decided to go with Amazon.

So, how can you get started?

First, think about what kind of compilation you want to make. Stories? Poems? Drawings? A collection of anything created by them? Take some time to explore Amazon KDP and the various options that you have for creation. Everything is available as a template.

My students wrote their stories through Google Docs, shared them with peers that they were comfortable with (or just me if they preferred) and provided feedback. We repeated this process multiple times.

Then, one by one, I took their stories from Google Docs and put them in the Word template that I grabbed from Amazon KDP. This process takes a while. Perhaps you can upload it in Google Docs and do it collaboratively, but I'm not 100% sure.

After we had the stories compiled, we started thinking about front cover designs. We used sites like and to find background images. We also worked through multiple options for tiles and their collective pen name. You will also get the template for the cover from Amazon KDP. It takes some getting used to. I designed ours in PowerPoint.

I ordered the first proof copy before revisions were done just to see what it looked like, and that made a huge impact on the kids. Seeing their book and being able to find their story was powerful.

I had a few kids take proof copies and review and provide feedback. Their feedback was extremely helpful in the design process of the book. For example, one kid suggested adding a table of contents.

We are now selling What You Don't See on Amazon. All of the money will go to the students, and they will decide how to use it. Originally, we were going to use it for a field trip, but with COVID-19, those plans are currently delayed.

You can also read more about building your classroom library through this blog post.


  1. This is a beautiful inspiration for me, the teacher, and the students! I teach tenth grade, and I'm interested in doing this for the upcoming schoolyear. Did you have any students who refused to incorporate their writing despite it being anonymous? Also, was there a fee required during the publishing process?

    Thanks and continue the great work,
    AK Habig

  2. Thank you so much for reading! Every student wrote something. I've never had a student completely refuse to complete it, but not every student writes an entire two-page story either. Some can only product one paragraph. LuLu and Amazon deduct money from the profits, but it's not a fee that you have to pay out-of-pocket :)

  3. Going to graduate school was a positive decision for me. I enjoyed the coursework, the presentations, the fellow students, and the professors. And since my company reimbursed 100% of the tuition, the only cost that I had to pay on my own was for books and supplies. Otherwise, I received a free master’s degree. All that I had to invest was my time.