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
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.
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
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)