Guidelines for Writers

Publishing accounts are provided to writers (13+) through teachers, librarians, or other educators who create group accounts for their students or youth participants.

If you are a youth who wishes to participate but has come here unaffiliated to an 18+ educator or participating site/organization, email us at education@commonwealthclub.org.

Getting Started

These four prompts are intended to spark your thinking.

You may begin to draft your response using any tools you would like (Google Docs, iMovie, etc.). However, when you are ready to work within the California Book Awards youth publishing site, you must first Sign Up and then Log In with a code provided by a registered 18+ teacher/librarian/educator.

If you do not have an adult to help you, The Commonwealth Club has sponsors available. Just email a request to join to education@commonwealthclub.org.

Sign Up and Log In

When you are ready to work on your response, you must first Sign Up with the code you receive from your registered teacher/librarian. Once you Sign Up you can then come back and Log In when needed.

Your response will be created upon logging in. Click on Edit Response to start to work on it. You can Save/Leave as Draft as you go.

If you have more than one response, click the Add Your Response button in the right-hand navigation to start a second one.

Composing and Editing

Writers are welcome to compose their responses using text, images, sound, and video. Each post begins with a Title and a Summary (280 character maximum). The summary will show up on the map and homepage along with any images you include. Upon publishing, Tags are required. Tags that are already in the system will display as you type and can choose from those, or create your own. Your Display Name is also required and your first name and last initial will be the default. Response fields you add can be reordered by dragging/dropping so that your response can appear in the order you decide.

Whether you are working on a piece of writing and/or composing with multimedia, it helps to work through a process of feedback, revision, and editing. California Book Awards allows you to save a draft before submitting your piece for publishing. You can even remove a published response, re-edit and then re-publish a piece if you want to make changes after publishing.

As you draft, ask for feedback on your work-in-progress from a diverse range of people. Feedback from others is key, as your published post will be read by a diverse national and even international audience. Attributing the sources of any graphics, music, or other digital assets that you use honors the creative work of others while helping your readers learn about your sources.

Publishing and Sharing

Once your piece is finished, you will follow 4 steps to publish it.

  1. Click the Submit for Review button. You will be asked, “Ready to publish your response?”
  2. If so, select Tags for your response.
  3. Next, enter your public Display Name.
  4. Click Submit for Review.

Your response will be submitted to your registered teacher/educator who will do a final review and then post your responses to the public map and website.

We encourage you to share your writing beyond California Book Awards, and social media share links are included on the website to make it easy for you to do so. Before sharing, please be sure to read our Privacy Policy.

Finally, educators and writers should review our Terms of Use. In order to provide writers with a positive and inclusive platform, violations such as hate speech will not be tolerated and will be removed by administrators. Community members and readers should report problems or concerns to administrators by flagging content on the site using the Report a Problem feature or emailing us at writingourfuture@nwp.org.


This youth publishing site for the Young Adult Literature finalists of the Commonwealth Club's California Book Awards is part of the National Writing Project’s Writing Our Future initiative and created in partnership with The Commonwealth Book Club's Creating Citizens initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.