Making a Living Writing Books for Kids
There’s a big difference between getting paid for your writing and making a living from it. In this book, award-winning children’s author Laura Purdie Salas shares insights and habits gained over 20+ years of writing (and related speaking and teaching) for kids. Her successes and failures are laid bare, in detail.
You will learn:
•What kind of mindset adjustments must I make to build a career?
•Besides my book sales, what related writing and speaking can I do to earn money?
•What habits do many successful working writers have in common?
•How do I keep my writing business organized?
•What’s the difference between networking and promotion, and do I really have to do either one of them?
•How do I negotiate better contracts?
•How do I find some kind of balance between life and work?
•Why do I always have to handle the family appointments?
•How can I avoid professional humiliation or deal with it when it does happen?
And lots more. With honesty, tough love, and humor, Salas spreads out the business side of writing for a living. You’ll gain a realistic view of how to approach and achieve a livable income as a writer. (And you’ll know whether this field is for you, or whether you want to stick with your day job and write on the side for pure love!)
NOTE: About 80% of the information in this book applies to writers for adults and also other creatives. But since Salas is a children’s writer, the examples come from the children’s publishing world, and some information, like school visits, is particular to children’s writers.
Writing for the Educational Market
Updated in 2017! The educational market offers writers a great opportunity to break in to nonfiction/informational writing and also to maintain a somewhat steady work flow once you’re established. This complete guide will lead you step by step through learning about this market, approaching publishers for assignments, and completing your work in a professional manner.
Laura says: One of the ways I keep afloat as a writer is by writing work-for-hire books for the educational market. This is a market I would not have known existed if I hadn’t heard two editors speak about it at an SCBWI conference back in 1999. Since then, I’ve written more than 110 books for this market. I’ve taught online classes and in-person classes on writing for this market over the years, and I finally put together a book on the topic. It’s basically my class in workbook form. Here’s the Table of Contents of the book, to give you a feel for its scope.
- Lesson One: The Trade Market vs. the Educational Market
- Lesson Two: Finding Publishers and Catalogs
- Lesson Three: Open Up Those Catalogs!
- Lesson Four: Topics You Hope to Write About
- Lesson Five: Writing for Different Age Ranges
- Lesson Six: The Introductory Packet
- Lesson Seven: The Cover Letter
- Lesson Eight: The Rest of the Introductory Packet
- Lesson Nine: Writing Clips or Samples
- Lesson Ten: Writing Samples from Scratch
- Lesson Eleven: Proposals
- Lesson Twelve: Get Feedback on Your Cover Letter
- Lesson Thirteen: Analyzing a Series
- Lesson Fourteen: Series Guidelines
- Lesson Fifteen: Readability Statistics
- Lesson Sixteen: Working With an Editor
- Lesson Seventeen: Researching Your Book
- Lesson Eighteen: Photo Research, Expert Consultants, Indices, and Permissions
- Lesson Nineteen: Assessment Writing
- Lesson Twenty: Fiction for Hire
- Lesson Twenty-One: Money and Contracts
- Lesson Twenty-Two: Schedules and Goals
- ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
“Writing for the Educational Market is like a writing conference (not just a class) for just $10. Laura explains the big picture and the nitty-gritty details of writing for the ed market in this book. She provides plenty of hands-on practice, too, which will help you get assignments from publishers. If others are like me, they’ll really appreciate Laura’s real cover letters, links, and resources she provides. My advice is to treat the book like a college class. Don’t move on to the next lesson until you’ve completed the assignment from the previous lesson. It’s worth it.” — A. Whipple (Amazon review)
“For any writer new-to-the-field who wishes to act, the lessons, the worksheets, the assignments lead up a carefully designed series of steps toward a practical writing career. I especially enjoyed the author’s inclusion of personal workflow sheets and lengthy resource lists. This is not a general survey vague on detail, but a complete course, meant to be acted upon. Highly recommended.” — Heather Hatch (Amazon review)
Picture Books the Write Way
Picture books are especially close to to the hearts of Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas. They’ve been fortunate enough to work with fantastic editors on the way to having their own published. And over the years, they’ve coached hundreds of other picture book writers, offering them feedback about how they can make their manuscripts stronger and more marketable in today’s competitive publishing environment. There are 10 key concerns that they end up addressing over and over again when they do picture book critiques. Many manuscripts have 2 or 3 of these problems in place—and almost every manuscript they critique has at least 1 of them! So they have focused on those 10 issues in this series of short essays. Each essay highlights one of the 10 key questions you will want to ask yourself about your manuscript. And if you find that your answer is “Yes—that is a problem for me,” they offer easy-to-apply writing tips to help you address that concern in your revisions.
“Admittedly, I approached this book with some reserve because of its length, but it is packed with a lot of good information. The 10 tips have helpful supporting details and examples. There were even a couple things mentioned that were helpful to me as an illustrator. There’s no fluff, just concrete steps to take that will help you on your to becoming a better picture book writer.” — Joie D’Abreau (Amazon review)
“Established children’s authors Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard share excellent tips for aspiring children’s picture book writers, providing great examples and easily understood discussion. A handy craft resource for those new to picture book writing, as well those with more experience who appreciate reminders!” — A. Bissonette (Amazon review)
Rhyming Picture Books the Write Way
Rhyming picture books often become childhood favorites. But despite the bestseller status of some of these titles, many editors claim they won’t even consider a manuscript in rhyme. So what’s going on? The reality is, these engaging read-alouds appear deceptively simple to write. But they are, in fact, extremely difficult to write well. So the bulk of the submissions that editors receive are ineffective and not ready for publication.
That’s where this guide comes in. Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard have both had rhyming picture books successfully published. Here, they lead writers through 10 key questions to ask about their own manuscripts—10 possible ways to make their rhyming picture book more salable in today’s competitive marketplace. Addressing these 10 considerations can make almost any rhyming picture book manuscript stronger and more appealing—even to editors who claim to be “anti-rhyme!”
“Wonderful place to start for anyone dreaming about rhyming picture books.” — Roxanne Troup (Goodreads review)
How to Query an Agent or Editor
Few writing projects create as much anxiety as crafting a cover or query letter. But while the process of submitting a manuscript can feel overwhelming, writing a query doesn’t have to be. In fact, following a few straightforward guidelines can help you write a letter that dramatically improves your chances of grabbing the attention of a busy editor or agent.
This savvy guide offers step-by-step instructions that successfully steer writers who are targeting the children’s or young adult book market through the query-writing process. (And the process is the same for those writing for the adult market, as well. It’s just that our examples are drawn from the children’s/young adult publishing world.) Drawing on the combined experience of two working writers who between them have over 160 published children’s book and 43 years working in the publishing industry, it offers a paragraph-by-paragraph outline, online resources, sample letters, and a wealth of real-world experience—all in a friendly, talking-it-over-with-a-friend approach. It’s the place to turn when you want to transform your writing dreams into writing realities!
“How to Query An Agent Or Editor” is a must have for any children’s book writer. The authors have compiled a user friendly step by step guide which helps take the mystery and worry out of both cover and query letters. Lisa Bullard and Laurie Purdie Salas break down the letters into digestible bites, explaining how and why each section is important and how to construct them. There is also very helpful information on how to research editors and how to target your query to them. Included are helpful links and examples of their own sample letters at the end of the book. Bullard and Purdie Salas have written an invaluable book which I know I’ll be using again and again.” — Jennifer Kirkeby (Amazon review)
“This e-book provides a really helpful overview for aspiring children’s book writers. “How to Query” outlines both cover letters and queries in an easy to follow format – a metaphor of dating and falling in love between writer and editor. Especially helpful, is the section on crafting a “hook” for your cover letter. This book also covers other topics, such as researching potential editors and publishers, and writing series for the educational market. An easy and worthwhile read.” — Gail S (Amazon review)
Does it seem as if the world of publishing is completely closed to you as a not-yet-published writer? Have you revised and refined your manuscript so that it’s in tiptop shape—but now find yourself mystified about how to get it into the hands of a real-live editor? In this guide, two established children’s book writers offer you practical advice about how you can move one step closer to your dream of being published. Drawn from real-life examples, our wide range of tried-and-true tips and out-of-the-box ideas offer sound advice about how you might access editors—even if you don’t have an agent. You’ll find a multitude of possible approaches that could help you break through the publishing padlocks!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Getting Published: How to Access Editors
RESEARCH TO FIND THE RIGHT EDITORS
FIND AN AGENT
SUBMIT TO OPEN PUBLISHERS
SUBMIT TO A PERSON, NOT A TITLE
GET A REFERRAL FROM ANOTHER WRITER
USE SOCIAL MEDIA
PUT YOUR WORK OUT THERE
EXPLORE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
“How many manuscripts languish in drawers and notebooks because writers don’t know how to get their work in front of editors? Sad to say there are too many! In ‘Getting Published: How To Access Editors’, the authors lay out the steps and provide handy links that will save writers many hours of tedious searching. You’ll also find useful tips in accessing both agents and editors. This is a clear and simple guide for a process that often seems daunting and overwhelming. I highly recommend this excellent resource for beginning and experienced writers!” — Vivian Kirkfield (Amazon review)
“I’ve been researching how to get published in the children’s book industry for a few months now, and thought I wouldn’t see anything new here. Wrong! The authors have offered clear, encouraging, specific, and even daring tips that I cannot wait to put to use! Thank you!” — Savannah Rogers (Amazon review)