Thursday, 4 September 2014

Writing for educational and non-fiction publishers

On Tuesday night I went to Piccadilly Circus to the SCBWI Professional Series talk about writing for educational and non-fiction publishers. It is an area I hadn't really thought about approaching but things do change as you will read from this blog. I met Anita and David in Costa Coffee for a bite to eat before the talk. Thankfully they found the right place, despite me giving the wrong coffee name to them on FB. Oops. I did get right where it was - opposite the church. Anyway, here is what I learnt.

The panel was made up of Anita Loughrey who writes educational fiction and non-fiction and Louie Stowell who works and writes for Usborne.

For authors who are starting out in this area, do sent an email/letter to publishers you are interested in writing for, saying you are available for their type of work. Do research the publishers first, though, so you can get a feel for what they write and a feel for their tone of writing. Anita said that now is the best time to get into educational publishing because there is a new curriculum and teachers are still getting used to it. You can download it by Googling it. If you are still not sure how to proceed, Anita suggested asking a teacher for help in writing the book.

Louie writes for Fiction Express. She has written interactive stories for Years 3-4 and Years 5-6. Years 3-4 are 1000 words a chapter, and 5-6 2000 a chapter. It is very quick and you have to interact on a blog with the children, and when they choose the ending of one chapter you only have a couple of days to write the next one. She also writes for Box of Frogs and mentioned Me Books, like Choose Your Adventure books. She said that when you write for these publishers, you have to have your idea thought out as much as possible, know the title, format of it and the name of the illustrator you wish to work with.

For picture books, you have to be v specific. You have to have illustrator notes on each spread. You should find out the background of the publisher and what interests them.

For non-fiction - it is best if you know lots on the subject you want to write about. Anita has written for Discovery Books and got a flat fee. She also mentioned a forum with lots of info called Nibweb. it is best to look at educational publishers who are free to being pitched. Anita mentioned Walker Books, QED and Hopscotch.  Look at publishers lists and find a gap, then pitch. Keep an eye on what will happen in a few years to come eg events and celebrations.

You can write to charities with your CV and ask if they want writers for books for their purpose. Get your name out there. Find charities who have the money, though. Write less than you need to. Look at who and what you know.

There was questions at the end and one question by someone else got me thinking about this area of writing. She asked about publishers who were interested in writing about special needs and mentioned Asperger's Syndrome. Louie mentioned a name and said that if we came to her at the end, she'd give us her card and if we emailed her she'd send us details. This is what I did, because I got excited and decided I wanted to write about AS and other things I know about. So, yesterday morning I emailed Louie. She got back to me and wrote that she will get in touch with her contact, and ask her to contact me. So I am an excited bunny. I feel that this is one way to get published traditionally, and especially if it's about something I know about and can feel make a difference to children. We shall wait and see....

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