Cover: Minecraft Survival

Linda Zajac, Unofficial Guides to Minecraft Survival & Minecraft Mods

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.

Publication of NASW members’ reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW’s endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments, and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

Cover: Minecraft Survival

Cover: Minecraft Survival


Series: My Minecraft Alternator Books: Grade Level: 2–5
Linda Zajac
Lerner, January 1, 2019, $9.99
Survival ISBN-10: 154154613X; ISBN-13: 978-1541546134
Mods ISBN-10: 1541546121: ISBN-13: 978-1541546127
eBooks also available

Zajac reports:

I received contracts to write these books after I happened to notice an open call for technology writers on the publisher’s website. With fifteen or so years of computer programming and design work under my belt, I thought I was qualified to do the work. Before emailing, I reviewed the coding books for kids that they had published. I was impressed by their simplicity, so I sent clips expressing an interest.

Cover: Minecraft Mods

Cover: Minecraft Mods

Once the editor got back to me, he told me the subject of the books and that they’d be part of a 4-book series. Before committing, I did more research. I discovered that teachers in other countries had developed lesson plans around Minecraft. The exceptionally popular computer game was being used as a tool to teach concepts in biology, ecology, physics, chemistry, and geology.

I also learned that gamers had coded thousands of “mods.” By playing Minecraft with mods, they could modify nearly every aspect of the game. These mods were essentially enhancing a Java program–Minecraft. Players have coded mods that allow them to do wild and wacky things while they play, like rocket into space, drive a motorcycle, eat sushi, explore cities, and see rainbow cats that fart.

Linda Zajac

Linda Zajac

Once I agreed to take on the project, I had four months to learn the game and write two books with STEM and coding sidebars. The research was not like anything I’ve done before. In addition to reading books and canvassing websites, I played Minecraft a lot. With my daughter’s help, I took most of the screenshots for the books.

I wish I had asked more questions when I got the specifications. I went into too much detail and had to revise. As far as advice goes, open your eyes to new clients, new kinds of writing, and new possibilities. Don’t be afraid to take risks. I never thought my computer programming background was much help to me as a science writer, and here it is opening the door to the book publishing world.

Contact info:

Buy The Unofficial Guide to Minecraft Survival and The Unofficial Guide to Minecraft Mods in the ScienceWriters bookstore. Your purchase helps support NASW programs and services.

NASW members: will your book be published soon? Take advantage of this opportunity for shameless self-promotion. Submit your report for Advance Copy.

Tell your fellow NASW members how you came up with the idea for your book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. Include what you wish you had known before you began working on your book, or had done differently.


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Send book info and questions about book publishing to Lynne Lamberg, NASW book editor,

Feb. 27, 2019

Drexel University online