Really cross with school - Young Writers

(75 Posts)
Dancergirl Thu 03-Mar-11 10:09:18

Has anyone else had a child whose work has been published in a Young Writers book?

Young Writers are a publishing company who claim that 'your' child has had a piece of writing selected to be published in a book. A small paperback book which costs £15.99 plus £2 postage!!

It's all done through the school but parents had no knowledge of entries being put in until we received letters saying our child had been selected. Parents (myself included) are angry because a) the school gave out our names and addresses to the company without permission....and b)we are now pressurised into buying this massively over-priced book.

My younger dd also had a poem published in one of these books last year and again parents were cross that details were given out. The teacher admitted it was an oversight and apologised (sort of) but this same teacher has done it again this year!

WWYD?

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Wed 30-Mar-11 18:07:54

We had this years ago - and were annoyed about it, complained to the school - did not buy it!

Our school had an article from the Daily Wail in the window for parents to read. (talking about the scam) The teachers at our school were very embarrassed and cancelled the competition. ds couldn't have cared less.

Herbster Tue 09-Aug-11 12:00:55

Letter from these people landed at the end of last week congratulating my 11 yr old son on his selected entry to the Time for Ryhme competition. His Dad and I were so proud and my son cried because year 6 was a tough one for him. The whole family over the moon, especially my brother who is a published writer. I'm mad and very torn reading all the information about these people. One other mum in my son's year has confirmed she has received same. Wont send these people any money and will complain to school. Its more the heart strings thing that gets me....its so unfair.

forehead Tue 09-Aug-11 12:03:42

This happened to my dd. I simply didn't buy the book.

Pawsnclaws Wed 10-Aug-11 09:50:40

We got this in reception! I ignored the letter, but was a bit embarrassed when one of the mums made a big deal at a coffee morning about how her son had won this amazing competition, his poem had been specially selected, blah blah. We had to try and let her down gently .....

As I remember, the poem was actually a multiple choice thing. So it said "what is your favourite food?" and your dc only wrote in the answer (eg "chips"!) - hardly poetry, but then they were 4 fgs!

YoungWriters Wed 24-Aug-11 09:42:38

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

sakura Thu 25-Aug-11 05:46:46

God what a scam! Now that you mention it I do remember something like this when I was in school. The book was called "Diddley Squat" , yes I remember that and it was full of our "poems". Can'T remember if my Mum bought it. I think she might have!

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 25-Aug-11 13:31:53

Hello there,

Young Writers have asked us to post the following statement on their behalf:

Young Writers has been working with schools for the past two decades and
although there has been negative press about the company our aim is
still very much the same... to encourage children from across the world
in their creative writing.

We provide schools with a pack full of ideas, lesson plans and key
points taken from the national curriculum to develop and encourage the
imagination of each child, whether they have a keen interest in poetry
and story writing or struggle to understand the concept. By creating
their unique creative writing pieces it is proven to boost children’s
confidence in school and later life.

The feedback we have received over the past 20 years is that our packs
are a useful tool within the classroom and that the themes and ideas
behind them encourage the children to express themselves. The schools
are made aware of what criteria is needed for a child to be accepted for
publication and although from the comments on here we sense that parents
are lead to believe that their child is only one of thousands, our
intention was not to mislead anyone. From our research over the years we
have been informed that a child seeing their work published is an
achievement in itself and not because they have been chosen to win.

We always welcome feedback about our services and we are keen to make
changes to the letter we send to parents to make them aware of their
child’s work being published. We would like to reassure teachers and
parents that we are not a scam.

Each publication is available to purchase as a keepsake. We are aware
that not all parents are interested in purchasing and therefore we
provide the school with the *free *copy so the children do not miss out
on seeing their poem or short story in print. The British Library holds
a copy of all our titles produced in their national archive.

The books have been priced at £15.99 and although this does seem
expensive for a book the price reflects the amount of work which goes
into producing each book. All poems/short stories received are read by
one of our editors and then goes on to be typed, corrected and formatted
before a proof is sent out to the parents. Once we have received the
permission forms back we have to make any changes that have been
requested and then our design team will create each publication before
our in-house printers produce the small print runs. We are a relatively
small family-run business and do not make huge profits from running each
competition. Our aim is promote and introduce poetry and story writing
to young children.

Our dedicated customer services team are available to talk to between
8am-5pm Monday to Friday. We are aware that throughout the day the line
can be engaged which does become frustrating to parents. The reason for
this is because we do work with thousands of schools from across the
world and we tend to communicate with them in school opening times. We
have added a new line recently to help, the telephone number is 01733
898110. We can only apologise for past issues and we will continue to
try and improve our communication services.

If you are having problems with reaching us on the telephone please
email us at info@youngwriters.co.uk <mailto:info@youngwriters.co.uk> ,
we will aim to call you back within 24hrs.

For each competition that is created and sent to schools we offer a
prize to the best schools and on most occasions prizes for a selection
of children. The prizes range from £1000 to the school with the best set
of entries to a £10 book token for the child with the best poem from
their anthology. These prizes are aimed to be paid after the final book
has been printed and despatched from the series. I am sure each listed
school would be happy to inform you if they have received their prize.

I would also like to mention at this time that you are able to order a
copy of the book through the school who will receive the order on an
invoice basis, this would put your mind at rest and no payment would
need to be made until the product has been received.

If you would like to contact us about any concerns you have please feel
free to call us on 01733 890066.

Kind Regards,
Young Writers

ragged Thu 25-Aug-11 16:00:33

I wouldn't say it's a scam but it is vanity publishing which doesn't appeal to me, either.

NappyShedSal Thu 25-Aug-11 19:00:47

Can I ask Young Writers a couple of questions:

Do you "select" every piece of writing that is sent in? And if not, on average what % of pieces are selected?

If you decide not to order, but do give permission for your child's work to be included, does it still get included?

seeker Thu 25-Aug-11 19:09:01

The issue is that you as the parent are asked whether you want your childnto be included in the book and a sent a proof copynof the "winning" story. If you do want your child's poem included, you have to send the money back with the proof -no money,no publication.

In ds's class, every poem submitted was a "winner". Vanity publishing at it's most blatant.

kando Thu 25-Aug-11 19:25:23

I was "sucked" into this a couple of years ago - had a letter saying that dd1's work was going to be published, would we like to buy the book? It was very obvious from dd1's and others work published that they were given "set pieces" to choose from. DD1's poem was entitled "My Mum" and i did think it rather odd that she would liken me to a blue velvet sofa, but then saw that others had likened their mums to red silk dresses or the like hmm. Still, the poem brought a tear to my eye and although I'm £16 down, at least I've still got the poem somewhere among the 30 other poems from her class hmm again!

Feenie Thu 25-Aug-11 19:27:46

I have sympathy with both sides here. I understand that Young Writers and teachers who have used them do so mostly to give children's enthusiasm for writing that 'wow' factor, as in 'wow, my work is in a real book - I'm an author!' The Reception teacher at our school used them very successfully a few years ago for this exact purpose - the children were really excited at seeing their work published, it encouraged them to want to carry on writing, and parents loved it.

It never occurred to me that parents would be in any way cross about it until I saw it on MN. It seems to me that parents have a different perspective, which I also understand. They are cross because they feel duped into buying a book which their children were always going to appear it, and don't see it as anything special, since all/most children's work appears. I think if parents were to look at it purely as a tool to encourage very young children to act as 'real' writers, then it might change their view a little.

I do think £15.99 is very steep though.

seeker Fri 26-Aug-11 07:29:50

Absolutely, Feenie- I quite see your point about being published in a real book. It's the lying about children "winning" something when they haven't and then the emotional blackmail to buy that outrages me.

Feenie Fri 26-Aug-11 07:40:09

I can see that it could be construed as emotional blackmail, and that's why we haven't touched them since. I do think it's a shame though; the original premise of a child being 'published' is still the same, I think. Also, as YW point out, they have been around ages. Maybe we are more cynical these days (and more skint grin).

seeker Fri 26-Aug-11 08:24:35

Actually, judging by, the parents at our school, we aren't cynical enough- almost to a person they bought the "your child has won" lie!

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 11:21:22

My DS entered a short story competition (nothing to do with school), which was created to raise money for charity.

After submission of the story but before results they emailed me and asked if they could include his story in a book which would be sold to raise more money for the charity - ie everyone who entered and wanted to be would be published.

I agreed and decided to buy a copy of the book. (which was only about £7)

He was so proud that he was published in a book. And all the rest of the kids in his class were amazed.

Feenie - it's really easy to publish a book. go to lulu.com and upload a manuscript and they'll print books for you at about £3 a copy. (Depending on size and format of book)

So you could easily run a short story competition in your school, publish one story from each child (being clear that that is what you're doing) and sell those who wanted it the book for about £3 - with all the benefits you thought you were getting from young writers.

Feenie Fri 26-Aug-11 11:43:23

That's a great idea! Thanks. smile

Ranchero Tue 06-Nov-12 03:06:43

Okay. We got a "Talent For Writing" certificate through our nursery for our four-year-old through Young Writers . He cannot write. But he had written "a creative piece of distinction that was selected for publication in a Young Writers' anthology". But in my view if it looks like a sales pitch, smells like one then it is one. Especially when attached to the certificate is a form to buy copies of books that my wee one will be in. Because he is so amazing at writing. My spidey sense got very agitated when I read it. Then I discovered that the company Young Writers ACC is at the same Remus House, Peterborough address as Forward Press Ltd which proclaimed itself the People's Publisher and went bust letting down thousands of children offered the chance to pay up to £16 for a book including their child's work. Sound familiar? Well it managed to set aside £1.6 million debts as Forward Press went into voluntary liquidation on November 5, 2010. Three days later, Bonacia, was used to take back the Young Writers name while avoiding the taxman's £470,000 bill and the money and books it owed to disappointed clients and creditors. And now it's looking for more money from parents. Well this one isn't going to fall for it.

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 09:52:48

We got a "Talent For Writing" certificate through our nursery for our four-year-old through Young Writers . He cannot write. But he had written "a creative piece of distinction that was selected for publication in a Young Writers' anthology".

Snort.

Why, oh why, do schools and nurseries allow this nonsense to be perpetrated? Presumably because they take a cut?

Beanbagz Tue 06-Nov-12 10:00:14

My DD's class got this last year. I became suspicious when DD said that everyone in the class got a letter (informing them of their selection) and decided to investigate.

Basically the guy who runs it is a crook and has already been charged in Spain with conning people out of money. It would seem that most people never even get copies of the book which is at best vanity publishing.

Anyway i emailed all the evidence i found to the school and they sent a very apologetic email to all the parents. The school offered to buy a couple of each book for the school library rather than parents risking their own money. I don't think they ever turned up - no surprises there!

girlynut Tue 22-Jan-13 18:58:04

Sorry to resurrect this thread but wanted to share our experience of this company.

Figured that it was an expensive outlay for a small book containing lots of other children's "creative work" but bought a copy anyway because DS was very excited about it. Arrived today and he's very proud of his little story.

Just discovered on Facebook that a friend's son who is at a different nursery in the same town has also been published in a book that looks remarkably similar. But he's not in the copy we've got.

So not only are they producing a book with lots of children's writing but they appear to be producing multiple versions of the same book!!!

Tanyad Wed 17-Apr-13 15:49:25

I am really miffed at myself for not googling this first! I to had the letter through about the "Talent For Writing". I thought this was a real thing as it came through the school!

Unfortunately i had paid via paypal without looking into this first as i thought it would be genuine (until my daughter came home yesterday and told me most of the class got one!)

I intend to email the company to see if they will refund my money, if not i will be lodging a dispute via paypal to get my money back!

I will keep you posted, hopefully it wont get to that.

Tanyad Wed 24-Apr-13 15:18:31

Just an update, i emailed Young Writers and asked for a full refund, and low and behold, they replied after a couple of days and refunded me via paypal, with no questions asked!

Angelwalking2012 Fri 28-Jun-13 21:37:03

If in fact this company are doing this out of care for the children...why are they OVER pricing the book ? Having worked in a bookshop I know full well how much it costs to make a book. Now all the books we get in are priced around £5.99-7.99 for paperbacks. A4 books cost around £11 selling price . HOWEVER this includes price that goes towards the "writers". May I put to this company,now trading under different name that the price is NOT paying the writers as you are taking the work from kids. Round of applause I do so hope whilst they dine on fine things that indeed the parents have paid for , you realize parents are not all stupid. Wording the award letters stating " Your child's work has been selected " in a competition is in fact a lie. Competition means they are competing for something which in fact is a lie. EVERY child in the class gets "selected". Gosh, how do you possibly decide of a class of 30 that 30 pupils get published ? ... Ahem... Furermore local publishers can print books at a profit for £5 so I would dearly like to know who prints your books at such a very high price ? Hardback books are more expensive yet your format is the 'cheaper' version. I would send this to you to print in on one of your many competitions online but I am more ...how do we say " Advanced " and do things digital ;)

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