Case Study

Keith Johnson

After finishing teaching, Keith Johnson now writes physics textbooks for thousands of GCSE and A-Level students.

Keith Johnson didn’t plan to become a writer. "It just happened because I was unhappy with the Physics books I had to use when I was teaching and I though I could do better.”

Keith is now well known to thousands of GCSE and A – level students because of his famous books 'Spotlight Science', 'Physics for You' and 'Advanced Physics for You'.

Keith started out as a Physics teacher. He went on to be a deputy head, a headteacher and an inspector before writing full time. If he could choose again what would he do? “Without doubt I would study Physics and I would want to be a teacher. Teaching is unrivalled for the variety of experiences, for interacting with young people, for developing yourself and for the satisfaction of helping young people and their future prospects. In the course of a day you can be teacher, actor, judge, entertainer, scientist, writer – there’s certainly variety. Of course it’s not an easy job and you need to be committed to it.”

So what’s it like to write a book? “I design the whole page in outline first, gradually filling in more detail. I decide on the words and change them until the sentences are easy to read. I have to choose photographs or I discuss things with my wife Ann who helps me with illustrations and cartoons. At the later stage of a book I have to check ‘proofs’ to make sure the text is correct, the photos are the right size with the correct captions or diagrams have the correct labels. I have to work long hours until the job is done…then I can relax, until the next one.”

Keith particularly enjoys polishing a page until it is just right “but above all the greatest satisfaction is to know that I’m still involved in teaching Physics to the many students who use my books.”

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