Andrew Clements's The School Story is about writing and publishing a book. Twelve-year-old Natalie Nelson, whose mother Hannah works as an editor in New York City, learns from her mother that her publisher is looking for true-life stories about kids in school. Natalie taught herself to read and write at age four. When she learns from her mother what the publisher is looking for, she thinks to herself that she could certainly write a book on the subject. She keeps the book a secret from her mother, however, because she doesn't want any special attention from the publisher for being Hannah's daughter. Natalie's secretiveness helps develop the story's conflict, climax, and resolution.
After Natalie writes her book, titled The Cheater, she begins learning all she can about publishing and finds out writers do best when represented by agents. Natalie's friend Zoe poses as Natalie's agent. They also solicit the help of their teacher, Ms. Clayton, who purchases an office space for them. When they submit Natalie's book to the publisher under the pen name Cassandra Day, Hannah is assigned to read it and, loving it, phones Zoe's made-up agency to make an offer, provided the book is edited. After the book is edited and the pre-publication copies are released, Zoe is disappointed to learn bookstores ordered very few copies. To combat the situation, Zoe sets up a party at the publishing house for publicity. It is at this party that Natalie's true identity as a 12-year-old girl is revealed. Due to successful publicity, the book becomes a top Children's bestseller.