We’d like to thank Jan Fields for this blog post. Jan is co-faculty (with Paula Morrow) for Writing for the Educational Market. Thanks, Jan!
Everyone knows that kids need to read. These days, much of the push for testing revolves around being certain kids can read and make use of what they’ve read. Some young readers hit the page like jackrabbits – off and running. They learn quickly and read everything that is set before them. But for some, the situation is far different. Reading seems tough and publishers are looking for ways to keep the kids riveted to the page long enough to gain skill from reading.
For writers, this means keeping the fun in. Publishers talk about “high interest” – which means topics that grab the reader and don’t easily let go. In nonfiction, this translates into cool unexpected books about animals. It translates into fast paced nonfiction with a focus on extreme – anything. Extreme sports! Extreme weather! Extreme predators! Nonfiction writers take the reader to the edge with unexpected facts and fast-paced writing.
Educational publishing doesn’t stop at nonfiction though. Fast-paced, high-action stories are always appreciated for older readers. Surprising plot twists and plenty of giggles are sought after for the younger reader. Publishers aren’t looking for the same old “see, Spot, run” story. Instead, they’re looking for writers who can turn expectation on its head in new ways.
Educational writing is not just fun for the reader. It’s fun for the author. Sure, it’s still work, not endless giggles, but projects can be incredibly varied. In response to assignments from educational publishers, I’ve researched and written about butter sculpting, movie making, cryptids, virtual reality, and bugs you can eat! I’ve always said that I became a writer so I could satisfy my curiosity and get paid for it – and writing for the educational market has let me do that time after time.
Also, for me, the absolute most fun in educational publishing is having publishers ask me to write for them. I spent years in the cycle of write, submit, get rejected, revise, submit elsewhere, get rejected…rinse and repeat until someone finally says yes. I still do some writing that way, but I find it creatively draining. Now I can do that in small doses, while keeping busy on writing for the educational market – where editors come to me after I make first contact with them.
So, how does that sound to you? Do you want to satisfy your curiosity and get paid for it? Do you want editors to come to you with assignments? Then maybe you’ll want to join us.
In our Writing for the Educational Market workshop, you’ll find out the surprising breadth of the opportunities in that market. If you’ve thought of the educational market as all literacy programs and workbooks, then you’ve only seen a small bit of the vast marketplace. Educational publishing has opportunities for series fiction, short stories, lively nonfiction, historical fiction, even gritty teen fiction (especially if you can write something high interest at a lower reading level). One of my projects was a zombie story set on a space colony for a literacy program.
You’ll also learn about reading levels – what they are and how to write for them. You’ll learn what all the scary reading level jargon means and how it came to be so important. We’ll even give you some practical tools to make leveling your writing easier. If you thought you’d never be offered an assignment writing leveled readers because you aren’t a reading teacher – I can tell you that if you can write clear direct prose and lively story, you can learn to level text. We’ll help.
We’ll also show you how to connect with the publishers. We’ll show you how to find them and what to send in your introductory packets. We’ll share from our experience and the experience of other educational writers we know. We’ll even share from the experience of some of our past workshop attendees who’ve gone on to write in the field.
All this and more will help you connect with the educational publishing field. Paula and I will help you make your very specific plan for this market and help get your introductory packet ready to be sent out. So come with questions, come with samples of your work, and come expecting to look at your writing journey in a whole new way. Come join us. You’ll be glad you did.
Jan Fields had her first brush with educational publishing when an editor happened upon her webpage and asked if she’d write a book for their history line. Though that book didn’t work out, the idea of getting off the submission/rejection cycle did. Since then Jan has written thirty books for educational publishers including Capstone, Heinemann, and ABDO. Of the thirty books, twenty-eight are fiction. She has also written fiction, nonfiction, plays and poetry for educational testing companies. She’s the editor of the popular free electronic newsletter, The Children’s Writer’s eNews, from the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has taught writing for children both in distance learning and through community education. She has also written fiction, nonfiction and poetry for children’s magazines including Highlights for Children, Ladybug, Cricket, Boys’ Quest, Pockets, and Discovery Girls, and educational magazines including Holidays and Seasonal Celebrations, Lollipops, Shining Star, and One Way.
Posted on: May 27, 2015