My name is Emma Barnes, and in 2003 I co-founded the award-winning UK independent publisher Snowbooks, after a successful but unrewarding career as a management consultant. To this day, Snowbooks gives me joy and an unending sense of accomplishment. We specialise in sci fi and fantasy fiction, which really allows the imagination to roam free!
In 2011 my colleagues and I established another company – General Products Ltd – to launch our flagship publishing management software Consonance to the publishing industry.
Whilst all this was happening, in 2008 I had a gorgeous baby son. He's a strapping 12 year old now, the apple of my eye – and proud author of a good few Make Our Books!
When my son started in Reception, back in 2014, his form teacher was the school's literacy co-ordinator, so we often found ourselves chatting about our shared love of books, reading and writing. I can't remember who came up with the idea first, but we soon thought it would be a lovely idea to use my publishing skills to help the school. We planned to take over Book Week in 2014, and get all the children to write a piece of poetry or prose about 'Springtime'. I would typeset it and get it printed, and we would ask the parents to cover the costs of the print.
And it was a wonderful success! In fact, it was so successful that the school chose to produce another book the following year, and the year after that, and the year after that! I'm not much of a cake-baker and I'm a pretty useless member of the school's parent teacher association. So it's been wonderful to leave behind something of a legacy from my son's time at school.
I was proudly showing off my son's school's latest book to one of my Snowbooks authors, who at that time was a teacher at a large girls' school in London. He immediately could see what a great project it could be for Book Week, and so I coached his children to create another anthology. The parents, teachers and Head were over the moon. When my author moved teaching posts to another school he was keen to repeat the success and we created a lovely anthology about 'Giants and Beasts'. It was a wonderful to be able to provide a platform for a significant piece of creative work in an otherwise highly academically-driven curriculum. So we did another book the following year.
As interest grew, it became clear that I could help a larger number of children. And so – again using my web development expertise developed whilst writing Consonance – I wrote the website that you're reading now. The years have passed, and Make Our Book has expanded to be suitable for parents and home educators, too: in fact my son and I made this year's Christmas presents in it!
I would love to be able to help your children see their work in print, to join the hundreds of children we've helped already. You can't match the delight and deep satisfaction that this project brings to children. And you get to tick off plenty of learning objectives, too! It's a lovely thing that we do, and I'd love you to be able to experience it as well.