Emu Ink is an Irish independent publishing company that turns primary school pupils into real published authors.
As publisher of the youngest independent author in Ireland (Joe Prendergast was nine years old when we produced his trilogy and he went on to become RTE's Young Person of the Year) we have developed a unique online programme for classrooms.
Teachers have the option of using our free tool - a series of step-by-step lessons (three lessons and two exercises per week, for four weeks), which classes/schools of any number can partake in at a time that suits them, during their chosen term. The lessons encourage literacy through both reading and writing, include focus on idea generation, character development, plots, tenses and dialogue, right through to the editing and proofreading process.
However, if pupils have already produced work suitable for publication, this too can be used - all that is required is to follow the submission guidelines in the members' area.
The result, for the school, is a published anthology of the pupils' work. While the course is geared towards the production of a short story by each pupil, schools are free to submit whatever they like. Poetry, non-fiction, recipes, themed project work, etc. are all welcome. The course is currently aimed at 2nd-6th classes, but there are also junior exercises on there for the younger classes, to encourage their participation in the book, if the school so wishes.
The page count can extend as far as 350, so that translates to about 200 pupils at 500 words each but can obviously accommodate a lot more if the submissions are shorter.
We also encourage the pupils to use their art classes to draw a symbol that represents their story and we use up to 31 of these, plus the school logo, to design the cover. If there is more than one class taking part, schools tend to allow one class to put forward the artwork for the cover, others run competitions to pick the best pieces from all classes involved. It's totally up to each school.
Participating schools also need to pick a title for their book - most allow each writer to submit a suggestion and then the teachers/principals pick the best one.
There is no need to hold a book fair to take part in the course - the focus for us is the learning, while ensuring students get involved in the process of becoming real published authors. The course itself is free with a minimum order of 50 books (at €10 each) required to take part. Once this payment is processed schools will be provided with login details, which give access to the members' area of the website.
When the book is complete, there are order forms on site, which can be sent home with the children for their parents to state how many copies they would like. This is how the school recoups its initial outlay of €500. For example, if 100 pupils order one book each, the parents send the order forms back with their €10 each and when the total of €1,000 is gathered, the school takes its €500 back and pays us the balance.
Again, parents can order as many extra copies as they like.
If the school chooses to have a book launch (and most schools do) there are posters and certificates of achievement in the members' area, available to print out for promotion and presentation.
We would welcome the opportunity to take your pupils' work from pencil to print!