For teachers who want to be the next JK Rowling, help is at hand.
An online database has been launched to link unpublished writers with publishers seeking new authors - and it is being aimed at the staffroom.
Writers' Nexus is the creation of Mick Sanderson, an art teacher at Framingham Earl high, in Norfolk. Mr Sanderson decided to set up the online database after receiving a string of rejections for his first book, a students' guide to sculpture. "When children in class react negatively, you don't take it personally," he said. "There is an innocence in the way pupils put you down and ignore you. But publishers know what they're doing.
When someone is critical of your book, it's traumatic for the nascent author."
He hopes that Writers' Nexus will by-pass the rejection process involved in most authors' search for a publisher.
The database will enable authors to submit samples of their work, for inclusion in one of 40 fiction and non-fiction categories, such as politics, science, romance and murder-mystery. The site then functions as a literary dating agency, matching up writers with suitable publishers. If a publisher has expressed an interest in politics textbooks, for example, it will be notified by email as soon as a new writer registers in the politics section of the site. Six hundred small publishers have already been recruited to the site. But few writers have yet paid the pound;35 fee to register.
Mr Sanderson said: "Teachers see a lot happening in the classroom and they always have spare time over the holidays. Writing is a way of disencumbering oneself of the burden of teaching. There's a lot of spare information and talent out there. But teaching is also about putting things in the right order, so there's a logical progression. You want to make things clear and simple. That's what I'm doing with this site."
Peter J Murray, the former teacher whose self-published novel, Mokee Joe is Coming, has now been picked up by mainstream publishers, said: "Publishers get about 400 unsolicited manuscripts a week, and do not read any of them.
It is so competitive and demoralising. Anything which helps you when you are struggling is worth its weight in gold."
Friday magazine 6 ww.writersnexus.com