Paula Morrow–Thinking for Three: Different Audiences for the Educational Market

We’d like to thank Paula Morrow for this blog post. Paula is co-faculty (with Jan Fields) for Writing for the Educational Market. Thanks, Paula!

The writer for the educational market must please three different audiences: the editors who acquire your manuscripts, the schools that buy your books, and of course the children or teens who will ultimately–you hope!–be reading and enjoying your words.

Sound daunting? Not really! In our Writing for the Educational Market workshop, audience targeting is just one of the secrets we’ll explore. You’re invited to bring a selection of your writing: articles, poetry, plays, short stories, chapters from possible books. You’ll also have the option during your quiet afternoons of starting new material and interacting with faculty and fellow attendees as you develop it.

So how do you juggle the needs of three very different audiences?

Think like a child: you want something that’s funny or exciting or scary–anything but boring! You want something you can understand. You want something you can relate to yourself. You don’t want a lesson, you want a story. And remember, good writers are storytellers, whether the project is fiction or nonfiction!

Think like an editor: you like funny or exciting or scary, too, but you know publishing is a business. The books you publish must sell to schools and libraries. You’re looking for materials that will work across curricula; you’re aware of trends and needs; you’re alert for red flags that might prevent a school board from approving a book. You want writers who will follow guidelines and complete assignments quickly and accurately.

Think like a teacher or school librarian or school board member: you know what pleases kids, but you have to consider current state-mandated educational standards and help your students meet them. You need materials that are on target for your students’ level and abilities. You want materials that will be successful in your own community.

Don’t try to be three people at once, of course! Take turns thinking from each viewpoint as you craft and polish your manuscript. For example:
~ Have you made some busy editor’s life easier by following guidelines scrupulously?
~ Have you written at the requested reading and interest levels?
~ Have you made your presentation lively and engaging so that children will enjoy learning about your topic?
And yes, there’s more to consider–but you get the idea.

When your work pleases all three audiences, you’ll be well on the way to a happy career as an educational writer.

Paula MorrowPaula has been writing for the educational market since 2012, and each new assignment is still an enjoyable surprise. She has also served as an editor for Cricket magazines, Cricket books, and Highlights Hello. Before becoming an editor she was a children’s librarian. Before that she was a reader. Her earliest preschool memories are of listening to her mother read books from the Minneapolis Public Library. In her spare time she ushers for theaters and concerts in Chicago, and reads pictures books to her 16-year-old African grey parrot, Harley, whom she raised from a chick. Find out more at her website,

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Posted on: June 18, 2015

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