Behind the Scenes

How is a community novel project organized?

We are documenting our process on this page to give you a behind the scenes look at the 2015 Community Novel Project. “Behind the Scenes” combines elements from a project scrapbook, commentary, and archive to create a meaningful look at everything involved in publishing a book from creating the premise to distributing and marketing the final printed book and ebook. Our 2012-2014 projects are documented in the Past Project Archive.

Launching the 2015 project

We have learned that many previous participants in the Community Novel Project choose to contribute to future projects, and we want to always be engaging new participants as well. Our participants bring widely varying interests, skills, and goals.  We try to find ways to balance the expertise of previous participants and continue to provided returning participants with new skills and opportunities, while introducing new participants to collaborative writing and independent publishing.

Flyer at 2014 Book Launch advertising 2015 Premise Kickoff Meeting

Flyer at 2014 Book Launch advertising 2015 Premise Kickoff Meeting

Community Novel Project Flyer for 2014 Book Launch,  advertising 2015 novel and previous works (1 page PDF)

We started the 2015 project by posting reminders about the initial 2015 Community Novel Project event to local writers groups on Facebook, distributing flyers at related library programs like the Local Author Workshop and the Great Writers, Right Here Author Fair and emailing all previous participants a reminder. The initial event was also advertised in the Library News publication, which was mailed to all library cardholder households.

First event: Create the Community Novel

Saturday, January 31, 2015 | Noon-2 p.m. | Marvin Auditorium 101BC
Learn self-publishing from start to finish with the library’s Community Novel editorial team. You’ll work with other writers to write, edit and publish a teen novel set in Topeka. Bring your premise ideas for a futuristic chooseable-path adventure.  Learn more at
Expected products:

  • Potential participants will express interest in writing, editing, publishing and a variety of other tasks related to writing, editing and publishing a novel.
  • Group will reach consensus on a premise idea, setting and character ideas.


Agenda and 2015 Premise guidelines (2 page PDF)

  • This handout was emailed in advance to interested participants and posted on local writer Facebook groups to help writers prepare for the 2 hour facilitated meeting.
  • Copies were also distributed at the meeting and referred to frequently.

Whatever is a Chooseable-path adventure? Basic Background Explanation (1 page PDF)

Examples of Chooseable-path Adventure Endings and Artwork (2 page PDF)

  • What does a chooseable-path adventure novel look like? We brought dozens of example library books for writers to examine, but this handout helps people focus on the choices at the ends of scenes and on the artwork.

On Point of View for the Community Novel Chooseable-path Adventure (1 page PDF)

  • Why aren’t we writing in the second person “you” voice that characterizes other chooseable-path adventure novels? Helping people practice writing limited third person is much more useful!
Participant Interest Survey

This survey is designed to learn more about potential writers while still making novice participants feel welcome. We want to engage people and help them increase their skills in all aspects of self-publishing.

Participant Interest Survey (1 page PDF)

  • How do you choose which writers to select for which sections of the project? Mostly, we help people self-select areas of interest where they want to increase their skills.

In the News: The Community Novel Project is featured in a Trends/Perspectives article in American Libraries magazine. “Leading Self Publishing Efforts in Communities.” Lissa Staley. American Libraries, January/February 2015, pages 18-19. View online or download the PDF.

Premise Meeting Followup

Premise Brainstorming Page 1Premise Brainstorming Page 2 Click on these pictures to expand them, if you are curious about how many diverse suggestions the participants at the Premise Meeting shared and generated in about 15 minutes.


Here is the photo of the premise that was agreed upon by the participants and further developed collaboratively during the meeting:

Premise Outline 2015

Premise Outline 2015 -- questions Some additional questions and topics that were raised during the Premise discussion



Brainstorming, Writing, Editing, Publishing - it's all on this calendar to create our collaborative novel from start to finish!

Brainstorming, Writing, Editing, Publishing – it’s all on this calendar to create our collaborative novel from start to finish!

Previous Projects

Each year we work to improve the production of the community novel project. Read more: Past Project Archive