Work for Hire Part 2

Between novel series, I’ve been writing nonfiction for kids on a work-for-hire basis. Recently, I’ve had several fellow writers ask me about how to get started in it, so I thought I’d post the info here on my site.  See Part I, if you haven’t already.

Part II:  How do you get started?

1. Pick an area(s) to focus on.  

What do have a background in, for instance? I write about science and technology, particularly topics having to do with space, environment/energy, code, and the internet. Prior to writing full-time (for myself), I was a science writer (and online training developer) for NASA, Department of Energy, and the EPA. That gives me a bit of an edge (I think). But, remember, nonfiction covers a lot of ground. Your thing might sports (a big market), crafts, history, biography, grammar, animals, etc.  (btw, if you’re a teacher, look into assessment writing. That’s a whole other area of WFH.)

2. Research the market/field.  

Here are a few starting points:

  • Evelyn Christensen’s list of markets for educational publishers:My advice is to check out the publisher/packager’s website for submission or freelance guidelines and request catalogs. (Or check them out online, if available.) The latter are usually free and will give you an idea of kind of things a publisher does. The catalogs can also give you an idea of what they’re missing. Some pubs are open to proposals.
  • SCBWI Blueboard’s Work For Hire forum.If you’re an SCBWI member and/or belong to the old Verla Kay Blueboard, check out the forum on WFH. Members occasionally post calls for submissions and discuss specific packagers/publishers.
  • Misc. Blogs / Articles:

3. Put together some samples.

Some publishers / packagers will require that you submit a few pages of either published and/or unedited nonfiction.  It helps to have some for different age groups, too. Writing for 2nd graders is different from writing for 4th If you don’t have any published samples or clips yet, you’ll need to write some!

4. Send out a cover letter, resume, samples to pubs and packagers.

Just like querying an agent or publisher, your “package” to potential WFH will differ according to the publisher’s guidelines.  Some might just want a resume; others want just samples.

5. Wait.

You might not hear anything for a long, long time. Or you might hear immediately. It all depends on what the pub/packager is working on for this season. There might not be titles that fit your skillset. Yet.

Tomorrow I’ll post about what to expect from a WFH gig.