New program helps BYU students publish a book in 9 months

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Sophomore Ryan Ham is the campus director for BYU’s Creator Institute chapter. (Ryan Ham)

BYU students recently opened a chapter of Georgetown’s Creator Institute, a program that helps students learn to self-publish books in just nine months.

Sophomore Ryan Ham is BYU’s Creator Institute campus director. He found out about the program through a connection with Georgetown professor and Creator Institute founder Eric Koester on LinkedIn.

“I had connected with Koester on LinkedIn and he had seen how many articles I was publishing on my feed,” said Ham, who is studying information systems. “He then messaged me and asked if I wanted to publish a book of my own. It all started there.”

The Creator Institute is a nine-month-long program that aids students or young professionals in advancing themselves through creating something that they are passionate about, according to the Creator Institute website.

Koester said he initially developed the program at Georgetown after conducting a study of successful people around the world that were under the age of 30.

“I walked into my classroom of 20 students and told them on the first day that they would all be writing and publishing a book that semester. The students all looked at me with terror,” Koester said.

Koester’s study found the most successful entrepreneurs had all done something to further themselves in their career, like publishing a book or starting a podcast.

BYU hosted its first Creator Institute meeting in the beginning of the semester. The chapter’s goal is to allow students to become creators of their own and learn how to write and publish a book of their own, according to Ham.

“Koester has an initial 15-minute brainstorming Skype session with each student where he walks the student through the idea process and helps them hone in on their own idea,” Ham said.

Eric Koester speaks to an audience about publishing their first book. (Eric Koester)

Koester said he has been working on expanding the program to 60 additional universities throughout the country.

“I am not a traditional professor. I am mostly an entrepreneur,” Koester said. “Someone asked if I would be interested in teaching at Georgetown, and I started. It very quickly became unfulfilling to me because I wasn’t making any impact.”

Koester said that he knew the process he created would work and that it would give his students more opportunities to get their names out.

“When I started having them write books, I walked them through the entire process,” Koester said. “When they all published, it opened so many doors for them in the professional world.”

Publishing a book — what may seem like a lofty goal to many — is something both Koester and Ham believe can be done in nine months.

“The goal for this semester is to get everyone to a first-draft manuscript of at least 25,000 words that is publishable by June,” Ham said. “Having a group from BYU all participating together is encouraging and helpful in achieving that goal.”

According to Ham, the Creator Institute has three main objectives that lead to “so many successful outcomes.”

“There are three components to why this (chapter) is so different,” Ham said. “You don’t do it alone. You have a community of people to help, which is key. You have coaching and someone helps you identify a topic, which makes a big difference. And lastly, you need a process. Writing a book seems enormous, but with help it’s achievable.” 

BYU student Abbie Clark joined the club after finding out about it from her husband, who is friends with Ham.

“What interests me most about this program is that it makes the impossible seem very doable,” Clark said. “Writing a book sounds like this huge thing that only someone with a Ph.D. can do, but this program has helped me realize that anyone can write a book. You don’t have to be an expert, and everyone has something worth saying.”

The Creator Institute is accessible to anyone and comes with a small fee when compared to traditional forms of publication, which are close to $10,000 according to Koester.

“Upon completion of your book, a fee of $150 gets you access to professional editors, and $3,000 publishes the book,” Ham said. “This is basically the Uber or Airbnb of publishing a book.”

The BYU chapter of the Creator Institute is open to all students and will hold weekly meetings for the rest of the semester.

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