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Book City

September 21st, 2017

Almost forgot to post this interview with Book City Roanoke!  It’s a new blog / newsletter about all things literary in the Star City. Below is the drawing they did of me.










In case you’re wondering about the neighborhood itself, check out its website: Historic Grandin Village.

New nonfiction!

August 20th, 2017

Evidently, I know how the internet works!

Got copy of latest #nonfiction #book–How it Works: The Internet (Focus Readers Grade 4-7)! #bookstagram #books

A post shared by Angie Smibert (@asmibert) on

Author’s copies

August 1st, 2017

Just got author’s copies of my latest nonfiction books. These are in Capstone’s Curious Scientists series.

And yes, #irony!

Work for Hire Part 3

July 20th, 2017

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 and Part II, if you haven’t already.

Part 3: What to expect when you get your first WFH gig.

Bear in mind, your experience will vary, depending on the publisher, topic, and other factors.  When working in educational nonfiction for kids, you’re going to deal with:

  1. Crazy tight schedules.
  2. Fairly strict guidelines.
  3. A lot of research. (Duh, but important)


I’ll warn you. Schedules are very tight. Like crazy tight. That doesn’t mean they’re not doable, but you need to be able to write quickly (and smart)—and to guidelines. Usually, you have a month or less to write the book! Don’t panic too much, though. NF titles for kids are typically anywhere from 1K-10K words total, depending on age and topic.


The editor will give you series guidelines to follow and perhaps a sample from a similar series to look at. Guidelines (anywhere from 2-10 pages) usually include the series description, reading / ATOS level, word count, number of chapters or spreads, topics to cover, sidebars, back matter, citation formats, and so forth. (ATOS level, btw, is derived using a readability formula, and there are sites you can cut-and-paste text into to get a score.) Back matter can include glossaries, bibliographies, activities, etc. (You typically are responsible for everything except the index and illustrations!)


Research is critical to nonfiction. Publishers require everything to be extensively footnoted—and from quality sources. (Quality sources mean no children’s books, questionable websites, or sometimes even popular magazines.) You need to have access to a good library, preferably with electronic databases. Most public libraries do give their patrons access to databases like Gale or Credo. Some colleges also give their alumni library access, too.  Luckily, I have access to a university library online as well as a solid public library. (Those librarians really wonder about my reading habits!) On occasion, I do have to buy a book (used) because I can’t find a solid source on something like the Airbus  a380 or building a stadium.

Final advice:  be prepared to write smart. These projects don’t necessarily pay a lot. So you need to balance the amount of time you put into them against what you get out.

Work for Hire Part 2

July 19th, 2017

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.