You probably already have some ideas about how and why you want to run your workshop. However, it might be worth working through the following questions, reading the rest of the manual and then coming back to this chapter later.
Do you want to conduct the workshop with a whole class? Several classes? A whole year group? Across several year groups? Do you want to use an identified group – such as “the gifted and talented” or “girls who lack confidence”? Will the participants be obliged to take part or will they volunteer? How will you sell the idea to your colleagues and to the potential participants?
Even if you are working with your own class, you are doing something a little unusual, so some extra pairs of hands in the classroom are welcome. Your own teaching assistants are obvious choices. Doubling up classes can work well also – one teacher can lead and another can support.
If you invite outsiders your school may require them to be CRB checked. They should also have public liability insurance. Many writers who conduct school visits do have both of these. However, at the time of writing, the Government has said that CRB checks are not always necessary for occasional visitors, such as writers or artists. The Society of Authors has argued for a long time that they are not necessary although the National Association of Writers in Education have advised their members to have them and have assisted with this. The latter also provides its professional members with £10,000,000 of public liability insurances. A sensible question for your writer might be, therefore, “Are you a professional member of NAWE?” Note that the public liability insurance is only effective if members of your own staff are present during the visit. This would be sensible anyway.
Perhaps an obvious choice is a local writer who does school visits. Be warned, however, that the Society of Authors recommended fee for a day’s visit by a writer is £350. Nevertheless, some writers are willing to do a shorter visit for travelling expenses and the opportunity to sell their books and talk about their work. New writers who are finding their feet with school visits, will often work for a reduced fee. The latter could be very useful to support your workshop; you would basically lead the workshop and they could add in valuable insights as you go along. You may find lists of writers who are happy to conduct school visits in the following places:
· NAWE’s professional register, http://nawe.new.hciyork.co.uk/professional-directory.html
· Wordpool’s Contact An Author http://www.contactanauthor.co.uk/
· The Society of Authors’ Search for an Author http://www.societyofauthors.org/WritersAZ
You can always factor the writer’s fee into you expenses.
Obviously, one may also involve such bodies as the PTA or other support groups associated with your school.
Other good workshop supporters are creative writing students and graduates who are eager to get on PGCE courses. They are only too willing to offer free assistance in order to complete their school experience. As with the inexperienced writer, using them in this situation is ideal. They can learn from you. You retain the control. They have some expertise that you don’t have. Your school may want to get a CRB check done, despite recent pronouncements by the Government, and you must factor that into your expenses.
In all cases, you need to allow time to acquaint these helpers with their role and to conduct any checks.
You may want to involve your students in any decision about this, but it is probably also worth having a few ideas yourself as well.
What will you include? Do you just want to include one type of writing e.g. non-fiction or poetry? Do you want to include some work by everyone in the group? Or will you only include the very best work – even if that means that only a few students will be “published”? Will the contributions to the group be grouped by theme, type or person? Or all of these, within groups?
Think what else you might want to include. Do you want to write an introduction? Do you want get someone else to write a foreword? Perhaps a senior person at your school or someone from the charity you are supporting or maybe your invited writer? Could you include all of these people in some way? If supporting a charity, do you want to include some information about it in the book? Could that be a project for one of your students?
Do you want to include a contents page and / or an index? I actually advise against including an index of authors or mentioning them in the Contents; readers are likely to look only at the work of a person they know - and could miss out on a real treat.
It’s actually a good idea to discuss any theme for your book with your students. Get them on board. The theme is a centralizing and motivating factor. It also allows each student to work according to their strengths and despite their weaknesses; each can make a contribution as long as what they produce fits the theme.
There are various ways of finding a theme and you can explore this with your students. Your theme may be to do with:
· the curriculum
· a charity you wish to support
· something of local interest
· what is on the students’ mind
Linked with the theme is the idea of the perceived reader. You might also like to discuss with your students who will read the book: interested adults, children the same age as the students, younger children, people who might benefit from the charity supported.
You might also like to ascertain the purpose of the book. Is it to make money for your chosen charity, raise awareness about that charity or to showcase excellent writing? Possibly it is a combination of these things.
Left to their own devices, students will conclude that they are producing the book merely to please their teachers. By providing a theme, a purpose and a perceived reader, you are providing your students with a quasi-commercial perspective on the book and replicating that balance that exists between art and commerce in the world of publishing.
You need to decide how much time you are going to devote to the Build a Book Workshop and how much of what needs to be done can actually be completed outside of “core” time.
For example, you might complete the whole workshop in a single day, over two days or a week off timetable. You might use it as an extracurricular activity conducted during lunch-times or a part of an after-school club. You might make it a part of normal lessons – perhaps as a joint activity between English, IT, Citizenship Art.
Incidentally, it may be easier to find funding if this is conducted as an extracurricular activity.
You need to accommodate the following tasks:
· Negotiating theme, purpose and reader
· Setting up writing tasks
· Writing and word-processing work
· Launching and selling book
It may be possible to complete core tasks – e.g. setting up writing tasks, writing, editing, designing and illustrating during a designated time – for example on a day off timetable, and to complete the other tasks before and after the event. In this case, the setting up writing, writing and editing would take up about half of the time available.
Whatever you do, there will be some delay between when final version of the work is ready and when the book comes out. You or someone with technical expertise needs to get the book uploaded to a printer.
In any case, you will probably want to launch the book at a suitable time in the school year which may be at some distance in time from when your book is camera ready. You can factor that into your time plan.
It may also be possible to have a day off timetable to kick-start the project. The project could then carry on in further curriculum or extracurricular time.
Logistics are so important here. There will come a point when you need all of the work in two places – on a memory stick or similar and backed up somewhere else.
You might achieve this by rushing around at the end of the session and collecting everything onto the stick or by getting the students to save to a shared area. The first method is stressful and the second is safer but requires some effort on your part later.
And there are some unfortunate certainties:
· Some students will fail to save their work or will save it to somewhere so obscure that neither you nor they will ever find it again
· Some students will fail to finish
· You will have to do the final edit, no matter how well students have edited before
Getting all of the work in and ready to become a book can be quite a challenge. Whilst it is reasonable to say that many students will prefer to write straight to a computer, and that asking them to do this or word-process their work later offers them the opportunity to enhance their IT skills, there is no certainty that they will actually finish the work- no matter how much time you allow.
You cannot possibly take on this work yourself and getting paid help with it would make your book’s price prohibitively high.
You have to think of a way of getting this word-processing completed. You might enlist the help of parents, or of students and graduates who are anxious to get some school experience, or you might appoint a group of IT or design experts from amongst your students. The latter may work particularly well if you are conducting the workshop over several weeks.
If you do not give this matter enough attention, you risk losing your book. Factor your decision about how to get the word-processing completed into your planning.
If you make your Build a Book Workshop an extracurricular activity, you may be able to obtain some funding e.g. Arts Council Small Grant. However, application processes are time-consuming and applications are not always successful.
You may be able to tap into some funds at your own school – for instance, is there a special fund for the Gifted and Talented, for Special Needs or for Activities Week? Or is this workshop so much part of what you normally do that you can use part of your normal budget to fund it?
It may not be possible to get any help. But the good news is that the book can be self-funding – more or less. For example, if you use a Print On Demand company, such as Lightning Source, at the time of writing, each book costs 70p plus 1p per page to print. It costs about £48 to upload your book and cover. You will probably want a proof copy at about £21.00. Each print run costs £1.39, and you do have to pay shipping. The latter starts at about £5.00 for five books but rapidly becomes a lot cheaper the more you order. Discounts are usually given on print runs over 50. It would probably be easy to sell a hundred books if you worked with a whole year group. So, if you retail your book at £4.00, and sell 100 you cover print costs, set-up costs and shipping and have quite a bit left over for your designated charity. If your marketing campaign flops completely and you don’t sell a single book, you’ll have a nice book for the school library and you’ll have spent about £70 on a worthwhile workshop. But actually, you’re likely to sell at least as many books as there are participants in the workshop. If you put your price up to £5.00, you are some way to covering the cost of a visiting writer even if they charge full price.
We actually offer a package where we provide a visiting writer, set up the title for you, and guarantee £1.00 profit per hard copy book sold and 50% of profit on the e-book that comes automatically in the package. We do ask, though, that you pay the writer’s travel expenses.
Of course, if your budget runs to it, you might consider providing each student with a free copy of the book.
And if all of that still remains unaffordable, consider creating a web site instead. This can be done without spending a penny. You can still link to a charity. You might, however, want to consider purchasing a domain name – at about £10.99 for two years. How to do this is explained in Setting up a Web Book.
Whichever way you time your workshop, there will be some rather tedious tasks to complete afterwards. The excitement will be over, and a book can fail at this point because a busy teacher cannot find the time or motivation to complete the tasks.
Delegation, diarising and critical time planning are important here. The next chapter deals with critical time-planning. Here is a list of what needs to be completed after the workshop:
· Word-processing of students’ work
· All work to be given a final edit
· Camera ready Word document to be produced
· Book to be prepared for uploading to the printer (See The technical stuff)
· Market book
· Order copies
· Have a book launchAllow about ten hours for each of these activities. Remember, it doesn’t need to be you that does the work and it needn’t be done at one sitting. Your book launch, for instance, will probably last about two hours but may need up to eight hours preparation.