Thank you, Old Schoolhouse Magazine, for allowing us to tell your readers about how our family launched a book writing and publishing business.
It was shortly after our first child was born in 1975 that we latched onto the idea of homeschooling. After some investigation, we began with a formal homeschool curriculum in 1980. Five children later, in 1989, the Iowa homeschool association asked us to speak at their convention and to give seminars on teaching the subjects of classical education: Latin, Greek, and logic. We decided to rent a booth in their exhibit hall, so we wrote up a small catalog and sold a few Latin and logic books. Shortly after, Harvey published A Greek Alphabetarion: A Primer for Teaching How to Read, Write & Pronounce Ancient & Biblical Greek and continued to test and revise Homeschool Greek: A Thorough Self-Teaching Grammar of Biblical Greek, which we published in the early 90’s. About the same time we published Vocabulary Bridges From English to Latin & Greek and Handy English Encoder Decoder: All the Spelling and Phonics Rules You Could Ever Want to Know, which we have revised several times.
Each year during the spring and fall we would travel extensively, speaking at numerous support groups and homeschool conventions (in 49 states total), and during the winter months we would write books and curricula, including a periodical on classical education applied to homeschooling. In 2001 we published Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style, which was the compilation of twenty years of experience, seminar notes, articles, and correspondence. We followed this with Ancient history from primary sources: A literary timeline in 2003 and A Greek Hupogrammon: A Beginner’s Copybook for the Greek Alphabet with Pronunciations in 2005.
Sometime in the mid 90’s, I assigned Johannah (our oldest daughter) the task of making a little book about the Greek alphabet, using calligraphy and her own style of illustrations. She has now published several children’s picture books and her newest book A is for Amicus will be ready this year. In 2002 our two sons published their first logic book, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning, followed in 2005 by The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills. Lord willing, our daughter Helena is producing her first full-color illustrated book this year — Little Bitty Baby Learns the Alphabet.
Our business has been an extension of our homeschooling. What we learned we wrote about in order to help others to learn. We encouraged our children in the areas in which they excelled and helped them with the task of producing tangible items which they could later market. Our initial products were simple and rough, but as talents have matured and various skills have sharpened, so have our products (we hope).
One warning to young parents who would like to start a home business — don’t allow homeschooling to take a back seat. It is too easy for the mother to become so involved in the day-to-day details of the business that it saps the energies she needs to be a good wife and mother. The husband needs to drive and carry the business, and the rest of the family can be involved in the business as they are able. We have seen many home businesses so absorb the time and energies of the mother that the parents end up putting the kids into a classroom school.
We would encourage entrepreneurial-minded families to consider self-publishing the books or curricula they produce. With the development of the Internet over the past ten years, self-publishing has become not only possible, but altogether the publishing method of choice–and it is especially suited to homeschooling families. Dad, Mom, and kids can share the duties. Writing, illustrating, editing, manufacturing, storage, marketing, and order fulfillment can all be done right at home, as skills develop.
The marketing aspect of self-publishing has become particularly easier with the Internet. Ten years ago when we had a book written and printed and ready to sell, our marketing avenues were limited to advertisements in homeschooling magazines or to the lecture circuit. Those were hard years — traveling many thousands of miles and speaking at support groups and homeschool conventions. Today, your “marketing package” will still include speaking engagements and magazine advertising, but that will only be a small part. Blogging, gathering reviews, e-letters, a variety of advertising options, Amazon, and much more will make up the modern marketing plan of any self-publisher.
We suggest starting your logic journey with The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning (for ages 12 and up).