Calling all wannabe paperback writers

21st August 2009 at 01:00
Win the chance to publish your pupils' work for free - and sell the books to raise school funds

Every child can be an author, published in your school's own book - that's how Scholastic promotes its We are Writers! scheme on its website. Now The TESS is joining the publisher in inviting primary and secondary schools to take part in a competition in the run-up to next month's Scottish Learning Festival.

We are Writers! allows schools to submit a minimum of 50 stories to Scholastic - though "the books look best at 80 chapters", says sales director Chris Ratcliffe. These are then compiled and published as paperbacks at a cost of pound;5 each, and returned to the school which can sell them on to parents and the community at a higher price to raise funds.

What we are offering is the chance to have your school's book published free. All you have to do is make a pitch, in no more than 50 words, saying what the book would be about and why it is important to you. Entries must be submitted by September 11 and the winning school will be announced at the festival on September 23.

Once the winner is announced, the deadline for stories or poems is flexible. Should the school wish to receive its books by Christmas, for example, it would have to submit them by November 9. Ten days later, it would receive a sample book to check and take orders. Once confirmed online, it would take another seven to 10 working days to receive the bound volumes.

"Every writer you know and love, Roald Dahl, Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Anthony Horowitz, JK Rowling, have done what you've done," writes Michael Morpurgo in the introduction to a book by Belmont Primary in Stranraer. "Like you, they've faced the empty page, dreamed their dream, crafted their tale, made their magic. That's what story making is, it's magic- making, and we can all do it because each of us in our own way is a dream- maker, a tale-teller and a magician."

That's certainly true of the children at Belmont. The P34 class compiled theirs to celebrate the writing produced in their school, and it includes more than 100 samples from pupils in P2-7 - poems about rainforests, stories about the sea, rescue missions and bonfire night. All the colour and vividness of the children's imagination is there, the style and creativity.

It also addresses a point raised in its HMIE inspection, about promoting the written word within the school. "It gave the children motivation to write, and a purpose for their writing," says their teacher in the introduction.

Reasons for publishing books, and topics chosen, can be as many and varied as the schools taking part. "We've had some amazing topics, especially the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College in London on their memories of the day Michelle Obama visited," says Mr Ratcliffe. "But others, such as a school centenary, new building, our school in the future and a day out on the moon have led to some really creative books."

So we're waiting to hear from you, to discover what's important to your pupils or simply to enjoy a ride on their flights of fancy.

What to do

  • Submit a 50-word proposal by September 11
  • How many stories could the winning school then include? Minimum of 50, but 80 chapters looks best
  • How long should each story be? There is no set maximum - this only becomes an issue with books over 500 pages, which rarely happens
  • How many pages? An 80-chapter book is around 144 pages
  • What format would the book be? B-format paperback (128mmx198mm)
  • What about illustrations? Sorry, text only this time
  • How long will it take for the books to arrive? A sample book will arrive seven to 10 days from the time the stories are received
  • How should you submit your 50 words? E:, with subject "TESS Competition"


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