If you enjoy writing nonfiction and love to research topics in all sorts of different subject areas then educational publishing just might be right for you. Many acim publishers need writers. Surprisingly, though, these publishers generally don’t advertise that fact to writer’s magazines or market guides. So here’s how to get started in this active market.
DEVELOP A FOCUS
There are basically two different areas of focus you can take in educational publishing. The first is on writing nonfiction (and some fiction, too) that will be used directly by children (sometimes with the help of a parent or teacher). This type of material includes reference books, early-readers, remedial readers, textbooks, educational games, workbooks, and even CDs.
The second focus available in the educational market is creating and developing materials that will be used with children by parents, librarians, and teachers. These materials include everything from books of language arts activities designed to help teachers in the classroom, to books of bulletin board ideas and finger puppet patterns.
It doesn’t really matter which focus you choose. There are dozens of opportunities available for writers who want to develop educational materials directly for kids, as well as opportunities for those writers who wish to develop materials for teachers and parents to use with kids.
ASSESS YOUR SKILLS AND BACKGROUND
To develop a focus in educational publishing you will need to assess your skills and background. If you have experience as a preschool or elementary school teacher or librarian, for example, there are many educational publishers who might like to work with you.
Do you speak fluent Spanish, in addition to English? Then you might be able to freelance for educational publishers that produce books for children who are learning English as a second language.
Even if you don’t speak Spanish (or any other foreign language for that matter) and you’ve never been a librarian or a teacher, you can still break into children’s educational publishing. Many publishers don’t require authors to have a background in education. They simply want good writers who know how to thoroughly research a topic and write about it in a way that children will find interesting and easy to understand. An excellent way to test your researching skills will be to research different educational publishers. Find out which ones do hire writers without teaching experience, and which ones do hire writers to develop projects they create in house (more about this later).
DEVELOP YOUR RESUME OR BIO
Once you develop a focus for the type of educational materials you want to create, you will need to let publishers know you’re available and what you have to offer. For this you will need a brief bio or a resume. A bio (short for biography) consists of a few sentences or paragraphs that describe your background and publishing experience. The back inside cover of most books (both fiction and nonfiction) usually includes a short bio of the author. Read the bios of a few of your favorite authors until you get the hang of how a bio should be written. You probably won’t have as much publishing experience as your favorite author, but you’ll still be able to come up with a sentence or two that describes your work as a writer and/or educator. It might be something as simple as, “Mary Roberts is a former third grade teacher with over 20 years of experience in the classroom. While she was teaching, Ms. Roberts developed a wide variety of activities to use with her students.”