January 13, 2019

Writing for the Educational Market

A lot of people want to write books. Few have the persistence it takes to study the industry and then draft, revise, (and revise again and again) a manuscript (all after years of learning the craft) that will hook a publisher into paying for the book.

It sounds discouraging, but that's not the only way to write books for children and get paid. (I know lots of people like self-publishing, but I would rather get paid than pay.)

Are you a children's writer or teacher? Would you like to break into the publishing market? Or earn additional income writing? Then consider the educational market.

My first five books were published with the educational market. (My sixth book, The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion, will be published with Chicago Review Press next year.)

What is the educational market?

Educational publishers like ABDO and Capstone create books, curriculum, assessment materials, and more to be used in educational settings like schools, libraries, and churches. They pay writers--like you--to write about their ideas for their audience. It's called work-for-hire (WFH) so the copyright typically belongs to the publisher. WFH assignments are also available in the trade market.

A publisher/editor might contact a writer and invite them to write a book. The editor will likely provide subject matter, age level, word count, due date, and payment information. If the writer accepts the project, they'll get more details and a contract.

What types of assignments are available for the educational market?

There's a need for nonfiction, fiction, books, curriculum, assessment passages, and more for kindergarten through twelfth grade students.

Who are WFH opportunities good for? 

Curious writers. Like many other nonfiction writers, I enjoy learning about new topics. I appreciate the opportunity to explore new topics and break it down for children to understand.

Unpublished writers. Many educational publishers work with new writers for curriculum materials and even books. It's a great way to build your resume. Seriously.

Working writers. It's not easy earning a living as a writer and especially as a children's writer. I only write part-time, but WFH still helps me to earn a paycheck. Many writers supplement their income with WFH. Others do WFH exclusively.

Teachers. A lot of teachers already write their own curriculum. And teachers know children. So teachers make great educational writers. Definitely include teaching experience on your WFH resume.

How can I find WFH work? 

You'll want to create an introductory packet to send to publishers. It typically includes your resume, cover letter, and two writing samples.

What else should I know about Work-for-Hire and the educational market?

If you want to write for the educational market, be sure to read recently published children's books from publishers in the educational market. Study them.

I highly recommend Laura Purdie Salas's book, Writing for the Educational Market (affiliate link- no additional cost to you).  Evelyn Christensen's website is also a treasure. I also have tips and resources for children's writers here at this website.

Just like anything else you plan to submit to an editor, be sure your writing samples fit the publisher. Also, have them critiqued by other writers. (I offer a WFH critique package for those without a critique group or who just want feedback for this specific market.)

There's a lot more to understand about the educational market than I can cover in just a blog post. I teach workshops on it. Let me know if you'd like me to teach your writing group. The Highlights Foundation offers a multi-day workshop on the ed market.

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Annette Whipple
Annette Whipple

Annette Whipple is a children's nonfiction author living in Pennsylvania who loves to inspire a sense of wonder in others. She also enjoys reading good books and snacking on warm chocolate chip cookies.

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