It takes a village to make a book

Teachers are creative beings and Walton Burns is a perfect example.  I met Walton at a TESOL conference about 4 years ago and he became my publisher!  Walton was an EFL teacher and has taught abroad and in the United States.  He is the owner of Alphabet Publishing, a small independent publishing company that specializes in English language learning resources and textbooks for teachers. 

I wanted to learn more about another creative venture that Walton is behind using Kickstarter.  Have a read of my short interview below:

P:  Walton – thanks for taking the time out of your busy day. You wear a lot of hats including teacher, writer, editor and publisher. Can you tell us about your latest publishing project using Kickstarter?

W:  The book is called Outside the Box by Taylor Sapp, and it’s a collection of unfinished science-fiction/fantasy stories. Because they are unfinished, students have to provide their own endings. So it’s a really powerful way to get students writing. Even the most reluctant writer has strong ideas about how a story should end.

And because they are sci-fi/fantasy stories, students can explore interesting ideas such as, what if money really did grow on trees? How would it change our relationships if we could change our genders any time we wanted? Will AI ever advance to the point that we can befriend or even fall in love with a computer? So students are grappling with important issues, but in a fictional environment. And of course, they have lots to say about these somewhat controversial topics!

P:  Why did you decide to use Kickstarter for one of your books?

W:  As an independent publisher in a niche market like ELT, I have to look at alternate business models to stay afloat. I love supporting my authors with generous royalties, author-led projects, and a lot of creative control. However, this means our materials often have a limited market. We’re planning some ways to build more community among our authors.

We’re also trying to reach out to the teachers that buy our books and make them part of our team. We’ve started a review team, and now we’re looking at crowdfunding. It’s a great way to judge the demand for a book. It’s also a way of asking people to basically pre-order the book (at a huge discount, mind). But it’s also asking people to tell us they believe in this project enough to donate. Hopefully, it’ll be a success!

P:  What do people get if they contribute to your Kickstarter fund?

W:  We’ve tried to have the rewards reflect this idea of community. If you’re fired up about this book, you can get a copy first, before it goes on the market, at a pretty big discount! There are ebooks and paperbacks available or even packages to get all three of Taylor’s books!

For the more creative people, we’re offering early copies of a top-secret project: our English prompts journals. These are writing journals with weekly prompts on a different theme, whether it be fiction or opinion essays or something else.

And some people like to be a part of the project, so we’re offering to let you see a story before anyone else and let us know what you think. You can also name a character, or for a little bit more, create an entire character. Or for one very lucky donor, we’ll write a whole story just for you!

And no matter how much you chip in, we’ll thank you in the acknowledgments. We are really appreciative of anyone who can contribute to this project in any way.

P:  Where can we find more information?

W:  There is more information at

P:  Thanks so much Walton.  It sounds like a great idea.  Keep us posted!  

Learn more about Alphabet Publishing at:




Patrice Palmer has more than 23 years’ experience as an ESL teacher, trainer and writer in Canada and spent seven amazing years in Hong Kong. Her experience with professional burn-out in 2015 prompted her to reflect on her own lack of self-care and adopt positive psychology interventions which she now shares with other educators and administrators locally and globally. Patrice's book Teacher Self-Care Manual: Simple Strategies for Stressed Teachers by Alphabet Publishing is available at

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