Tips for Writing for the Education Market

Some Basic Information

If you are new to writing for the education market, this webpage has lots of helpful information for you. Although some educational publishers accept submissions and give standard royalty-based contracts with an advance, many do not. The more typical contract is a work-for-hire one in which the author is paid a one-time lump sum, and the publisher keeps all rights to the work. Usually, WFH books for the education market are non-fiction with the publisher determining the subject and specifying details like word count and reading level.

This may sound like a turn-off to you, but many authors make a good living with this kind of work and enjoy doing the research and the writing involved with it. Several of them share the pros and cons of writing WFH in the articles listed below.

Getting WFH Assignments

If you want to get WFH assignments, send a cover letter to the publisher stating your writing experiences and other qualifications, such as teaching experience or expertise in particular subject areas, and telling what subjects and grade levels interest you. Include samples of your writing. You should first research the kinds of books the publisher produces, and send samples which show your ability to write what they publish. The publisher will keep your information on file and contact you when they have an assignment they think matches your credentials.

Book Packagers

Lots of WFH books for the education market (an estimated 30% or more) are produced by book developers/packagers. These companies produce books for other publishers. Often the publishers request a particular product from the developer. Sometimes the developer may come up with the idea and offer it to a publisher. In my Educational Market List I try to indicate these kinds of companies with the words "developer," "packager," or "creation house" after the name.

Finding a Market for a Completed Manuscript or a Proposal

Perhaps you aren't looking for an assignment, but instead are looking for an educational publisher for a completed manuscript or for a proposal. In that case, when you check my Educational Market List, you'll probably be most successful if you look for publishers who have "submission guidelines" given. If they don't have submission guidelines, then it's more likely that they use freelancers only on an assignment basis. If they have guidelines and accept unsolicited submissions, the contract they give might still be a WFH one, or it might be a royalty-based one.

Royalty-Based Contracts

If an educational publisher does offer a royalty-based contract, the terms of the offer are frequently not comparable to what you may be used to in the trade market. Do not be surprised if there is no advance, if the royalty percentage is less, if the royalties are based on net instead of on list price, or if the publisher insists on the copyright being in their name. You can, of course, try to negotiate the terms they offer; just don't be surprised if the terms are less beneficial than what you might expect in the trade market.

Advantages to the Educational Market

In spite of this, writing for the educational market has some wonderful advantages. A big one is that it is usually easier to break into this market, especially with non-fiction WFH, than to publish a trade market novel or picture book. Another advantage is that educational publishers usually keep your books in print much longer than the typical trade publisher does. They also usually have their own distribution channels and sales force, so are unlikely to expect you to do a lot of promotion of your books (although if you like doing such things as school visits, book fairs, and speaking engagements, you certainly can). Best of all, when you write for the education market you can enjoy knowing you've helped provide materials that can make a positive difference in the learning experiences of many, many children!

Best wishes to you! Evelyn (who loves writing for the education market)


Recommended Resources

NFforKids -- a Facebook group where you can share and ask questions

Work for Hire Author Support Group -- another Facebook group where you can share and ask questions

Work-for-Hire and Calls for Submission -- section of the SCBWI Blueboard. You need to register to see this section, but it's free.

NFforKids Yahoo Group -- a listserv for the discussion of the writing, marketing, and publishing of nonfiction for children

Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children's Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career -- a book by Nancy I. Sanders that's filled with oodles of helpful tips on how to break into the educational market

Mentors for Rent -- Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard offer individualized help in your quest for breaking into the market.


Recommended Online Reading

"Bring in the Money!" -- a blog post about WFH by Jennifer Swanson (2016)

"Break into Traditional Publishing through WFH Writing Assignments" -- a blog post by Rebecca George (2015)

"How to Write for the Educational Market Part 1" -- a blog post by Tina Cho (2014)

"Writing for Struggling Readers" -- an article by Heidi Shelton Jenck (2012)

"Educating Children Brings Bylines and Bucks" -- an article by Kathryn Lay (2012)

"Breaking into the Educational Market" -- Laura Salas' blog post excerpted from Lesson One of her book, Writing Children’s Nonfiction Books for the Educational Market (2012)

"Doing Your Homework: Tips for Cracking the Educational Market" -- an article by Christine Venzon (2011)

"The Ins and Outs of Book Packagers" -- an interview with Lionel Bender, a book packager editor (2011)

"Work-for-hire Champion" -- an interview with Diane Bailey (2011)

"Breaking into the Children's Education Writing Market" -- an article by Rita Milios (2011)

"Writing for the Educational Market" -- an interview with Laura Purdie Salas (2010)

"Paying Education Markets" -- an article by Laura Yeager focusing on writing for education magazines (2010)

"Writing for the Educational Market" -- an article by Margo Dill (2010)

"Writing for the Education Market" -- an article by Jennifer Brown Banks (2009)

"The Education of an Education Writer..." -- an article by Christine Venzon (2008)

"Book Packaging: Under-explored Terrain For Freelancers" -- an article by Jenna Glatzer


My Educational Markets for Children's Writers list


Copyright 2016 Evelyn B. Christensen
Web Design by Stephen M. Christensen