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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Proposal Timeline



My friend Irene asked how long the proposal process took, so let's talk for a moment about the timeline. 

I suggested the idea to Jim in January 2011. Since January to March is my busy sales season with Delaney, I didn't immediately come home and start on the proposal. I probably began working on it seriously in March and emailed it to him on April 13. The following week I received an email from Luana Mitten, Editor-in-Chief at Rourke, saying they were interested in the proposal with some validation that I'd done a pretty good job on the proposal. Jim emailed the next day and affirmed his interest in the project. However, at the time they were working on their fall line of books and needed to wait until they were finished with those projects.

In July, Luana emailed me again to say the biography series was a definite go. She asked to set up a phone conversation. When I didn't hear from her again by August, I emailed to be sure I had not missed something. She responded that they were finalizing the new list and the biographies were still on it.

And here's where it got interesting. Remember we talked last week about publishers having personalities? I should have been paying closer attention. The rest of her email said she they were thinking about a collection of people they could use photos to illustrate and a second collection of historical people. She would send me the titles later that week. The were also looking to come up with a collection that would support both social studies and Common Core, and be attractive to teachers, as well as librarians. Notice that last line? They are paying attention to the classroom side of the business.

In September, senior editor, Precious McKenzie contacted me about working on the series. She offered me three Little World Biography Titles of 24 pages each. She gave me my choice of titles from these:

Sonia Sotomayor; April Holmes, Joe Acaba; Muhammad Ali; Mae Jemison; Michael J. Fox; Walt Disney; Frank Lloyd Wright; Bill Martin, Jr.; Ezra Jack Keats; Laura Ingalls Wilder; Maya Angelou.
Well, of course, I said yes. I picked Frank Lloyd Wright, Mae Jemison, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

So what happened to my proposal? The folks at Rourke took the idea, tweaked it to make it fit their publishing personality and gave me the opportunity to be part of it. I was thrilled, but my adventure with their personality was not over yet.

At this point, I had been writing for State Standards for about three years. State Standards books are written to very specific informational guidelines--they want the exact standards the students must study included in the books--and they want it written at the exact reading level those students need. So I'd been writing in a tight box for quite a while.

My original proposal to Rourke was based on the need for low level biographies that kindergarten and first graders could read themselves. But Rourke's books are much looser in construction. They market their Little World line of books for kindergarten to second grade, but the reading levels on them usually fall in the second and third grade range.

The first manuscript I sent to Precious was still written in my original proposal mindset. We worked back and forth on a few things. Wright's life is not exactly first grade material. Once we had worked through some of this, she sent it to other editors in the office for their perspective. In November comments came from one of them saying I needed to jazz it up a bit, increase the writing craft to keep kids engaged. That the sentence structure was too repetitive, and needed to have more variety.


She was exactly right. It would have been the right manuscript for State Standards, but I had missed Rourke's personality. So I took a deep breath, relaxed, and rewrote. This time the results were just right.

I turned in the final manuscripts in January. I'm still waiting to see the finished version with the cover. The books will be out in the fall. It's been a grand experience and a definite lesson in publisher personality.
  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Proposal for a Book Series in the Educational Market

Material written for the educational market is generally standards-based. Each state has its own standards of learning, but the Common Core is moving many states to a common set of of requirements.

One of the publishers I write for, State Standards Publishing, targets state history standards. Their initial focus was on Georgia, but they are now working on Virginia. It's a niche market. Major publishers don’t cater to local standards because they can’t sell most of them nationally.

BUT, when a publisher looks at developing a new series, they consider the state standards.
Two of the State Standards Georgia Biographies
I really enjoyed writing low level biographies for State Standards, so I looked around at some other publishers that might be open to a proposal. I sell Rourke books and  had the opportunity to talk to Jim Colandrea, the company's owner, at our Delaney meeting  last January . I asked if he would be interested. He invited me to send a proposal and suggest about 12 people to include in the set. He specifically asked for information on state standards in Florida, Texas, and California.

I did the research. 

First I checked the standards for those states. You can access the standards for all states here or here

I came up with a list of 12 people based on the first and second grade requirements for Florida, Texas, California, and Georgia (since it's home). Here's my list:
George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Barack Obama
Christopher Columbus
Paul Revere
Daniel Boone
Sacagawea
Thomas Edison
Wilma Rudolph
Ellen Ochoa
Cesar Chavez 
Next I checked out the competition to see what was already out there. I used the Delaney database (you can set up an account for yourself), but you can use World Cat, amazon.com, or Follet's Titlewave (set up an account as a parent). The good thing about a sales database like Delaney or Titlewave is you get the leveling information. You can also check Books in Print in your library's reference section.

I put it all together and it looked like this:


Proposal for Series of First Grade Biographies
Overview 

This proposed series would provide biographies of famous people at a level that students in kindergarten and first grade could read. Very few biographies are available at this level. In my role as a Delaney sales rep, I receive many requests for them, both from librarians and from teachers and literacy coaches. I believe the series would be well-received and would fit into Rourke’s list of early level titles. My goal would be to write the books so that they could receive an AR level below 2.0. Low AR titles are always in demand in libraries. To be able to combine these needed AR resources with the academic content matching state standards would be extremely valuable in the educational market. Also, the most recent issue of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletin includes a wish list from librarians. A request for low level biographies is high on the list.

(Here's where I listed my twelve people/titles.)

Potential Markets based on State Standards 

In California state standards, specific historical figures are named in kindergarten and second grade. First grade standards are more general in nature. If the proposed titles come in at AR levels below 2.0, many kindergarten readers would have access to them. They would also serve struggling readers in second grade. First grade teachers would be able to use them, also, based on their goal of helping children understand the past, historical figures celebrated in national holidays and honored in national monuments. Both Texas and Florida name a few specific individuals, but also leave room for teachers to have some choice in their lesson plans. Both states focus on citizenship and character in the historical and contemporary figures chosen. The specific people proposed for this series are named in many other state standards, including Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Missouri.

(Here I included the actual standards copied from the three states' websites.)

Competing Titles 

In researching the competition, I focused on low level titles that had AR tests and Lexile scores, if available. The following chart examines available material for the specific titles proposed. Library competitors include Child’s World and Capstone, although Capstone’s series is fairly old in publication dates, with few additions in the last five years. Teacher Created Materials/Shell Libraries came out with a new set of 16 titles this year. They are only available in paperback, do not have AR levels, but are geared to DRA levels from 9-20. First grade DRA levels reach 16. Children’s Press also has a series, but most of the AR levels are 2.0 and above. Heinemann’s First Biographies published in 2008, range from 1.9 to 2.3. I would consider this set the fiercest competition. There are only eight titles. The only two overlapping with this proposal are George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

(Here I included a table with each name/title, publisher, publication date, accelerated reader level, Lexile level, and guided reading level.)

I included my author bio and one completed manuscript, sent it via snail mail, then I sat back and waited. 

Next time I'll fill you in on the rest of the story.

There was an excellent discussion of books proposals at the Writer's Retreat with Nancy I. Sanders and Chris Boch. Transcripts are posted as Part One and Part Two.


Friday, May 25, 2012

A Week of Critters

Yes, that's what it has been around here lately. Last weekend after a heavy rain, I came home to find a box turtle meandering across the road. I parked the car and donned my garden gloves. He drew in his hind legs as I approached, but turned his head to peer at me. I stepped closer and he drew in his forelegs. As I reached to pick him up (my hands well back from his front parts just in case I had misidentified his species), his head disappeared into the armored shell. I carried him into the back yard, down the steps to the creek and set him down on the creek bank. He shot into the water at a speed any hare would be proud to claim. I forgot to get his picture, but this is what he looked like.

Near my house there's a wonderful city park with a two-mile walking trail around the lake (reservoir). It's about a three block walk to a patch of woods where a trail cuts through into the back side of the park. I was coming up the trail to head back home, my mind doing all the meandering it does when I walk, and I nearly stepped on this guy.
I sent the picture to my science teacher friend who identified it as a gray rat snake. So after regaining my breath, I stood there for a while trying to decide what to do. There is a second path that I could take to the main road if I backtracked a few feet and detoured around him. But that seemed a silly thing to do. We had a staring match for a few minutes. I didn't think I could safely step over him, even though he's not poisonous, he could still be aggressive. I looked around and found a stick. A very long stick. And I prodded him gently. He didn't move, just sat there and looked at me. So I prodded a bit harder and finally, he turned around and wound himself back into the undergrowth. And I came home. 


Then my husband found this hole with cracked open egg shells by the walkway in our back yard. 




My friend said, "I guess it could be anything from a chipmunk to a snake...now if you stick your hand down it..." 


I didn't. 


So, Happy Poetry Friday! After my week of critters, I definitely needed a critter poem. 


Stop over at TeacherDance where Linda is hosting the roundup for more poetry. 



Snake

by D.H. Lawrence

A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.

In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of
the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,
Silently.

Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second comer, waiting.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?

Read the rest here.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Publishers Have Personalities

Let's talk for a moment about all those educational publishers out there, the ones you might want to pursue in this market. And boy, oh boy, they are all different.

Publishers in the educational market are as varied as the people who buy their books.

Some of them are large, like Scholastic, which is practically an empire in the educational market.

Capstone is a conglomerate of publishing imprints that includes, Capstone Press, Compass Point, Heinemann-Raintree, Picture Windows, and Stone Arch. Their spring paperback catalog featured 398 new titles. That doesn’t include their spring library titles.

Some are small, like Creative Company or Norwood House who publishes about 75 books in a year.

Some are family owned and operated like Mitchell Lane or Crabtree.

Some have a stable of writers and hand out assignments only, some use book packagers, some accept manuscripts, some accept queries and/or proposals.

Every publisher in this market has a personality, a goal they want to achieve in their books, a focus or method of presentation.

Mitchell Lanes publishes biographies, almost exclusively. Stone Arch publishes fiction. Bearport promotes their books as narrative nonfiction. Picture Windows uses illustrations rather than photographs. Teacher Created Materials publishes paperback only. Bellwether publishes library bound books written on an incremental reading scale similar to leveled readers. Saddleback caters to the struggling learner in middle and high school. Scobre’s writers are all twenty-somethings. 

The place to learn their personality is in their catalog. You can get a feel for their books online, and you should read some of their actual books if at all possible,  but I like to hold that catalog in my hands. The way it’s organized and the information included will tell you a lot about a publisher. You can request a catalog at most publisher websites.

I've never had the privilege of going to the big bookseller conferences, but if you live near where one is being held, take advantage of it. Talk to the publisher reps. It's another good way to learn about a publishing house. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Educational Market: Who Buys the Books

We're still talking about writing for the educational market. Any writer worth his salt knows who his audience is. It's not a hard questions to answer for this market, it's those kids, preK to grade twelve, reading in the schools. But those readers are not the buyers. They are not the decision makers when it comes time to spend those precious school funds.

Traditionally we think of the librarian as the primary buyer in the educational market, but there is  actually a much larger marketplace out there that writers don't generally think of.

Teachers often have funds to purchase materials for their classroom. Many of them spend their own money.

Counselors, speech teachers, ESOL teacher/coordinators, special education teachers purchase books for their specific needs.

      

Literacy coaches/Instructional specialists - these are the people within the school who purchase books for classroom libraries and bookrooms. Bookrooms are small libraries set aside usually in a separate room for the specific use of classroom teachers or reading teachers. Books are usually in sets of six copies (6-packs) for use in reading groups.

County level buyers - Homeless coordinator, special education coordinator, instructional specialists, elementary ed coordinator, Title I program directors, grant coordinators. These people will often buy books for every school in their district.

So why do you need to know this as a writer? I want to broaden your horizons. Why do you need to go beyond the question What are my librarian’s needs? In today’s economy, school libraries do not have the funds they once had. Many of them of still buying books, but not in the quantities they once did. There has been a shift in spending in the last few years from the library to the classroom. The books purchased are paperback, rather than library bound, but the quantity of books purchased is much higher.

Here's an example from one elementary school that I serve. It is not a Title I funded school. Orders from Title I funded schools usually reflect the same balance, but they generally have more funds available. 

      Library order        $1,140.35               73 books
      Classroom order   $4,345.51             728 books

        In the list of purchasers above, only one buys library bound books. The publisher makes more money selling library bound books. If you get royalties (a few educational publishers do offer royalties), you make more money on library bound books. But only if they sell. 
        Realize that the writer has no say in whether your books are published in paperback or not. I just want you to understand that if you’re writing for an educational publisher who does not sell paperbacks, sales are limited because funds are limited. 
        Many traditional library publishers, who said they would never publish paperback books, are sticking their toes in the water of the classroom market.

Friday, May 18, 2012

In the Garden

There's an old hymn I love. The first line says, "I come to the garden alone when the dew is still on the roses." I love that old song. I love gardens. It's been a long weary week (but with some bright spots along the way) and I have need of my garden. I have a deadline to meet and a magazine to proof and I can't get my mind to be still long enough to sleep. Tomorrow I think I'll plant zinnias. And maybe I'll sit in the swing and listen to the creek slip by. 

Wishing you a garden moment in your busy week, too. 

After Three Years
by Paul Verlaine

I pushed the gate that swung so silently,
And I was in the garden and aware
Of early daylight on the flowers there
And cups of dew sun-kindled. I could see
Nothing was changed from what it used to be.
There was the wild-vine arbor, the old chair
The fountain singing silvery in air
The eternal sigh of the old aspen-tree.

And still the rose is fluttering; as before
The tall, proud lily sways in the warm breeze;
I know the very larks that sink or soar;
And even the statue, frail amid her trees,
With plaster crumbling on the grassy floor,
Shines amid shadows of dead fragrancies.

translated by W. Thorley, 1866


Katya at Write, Sketch, Repeat hosts the roundup today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Traditional Nonfiction, and Not-so-Traditional

Nearly every educational publisher carries traditional nonfiction books,  but there are also publishers and imprints within traditional publishers that entertain some interesting not-so-traditional nonfiction. Many of these target struggling learners.

A large proportion of educational nonfiction uses photographs, but sometimes you find them illustrated. Take a look at Picture Windows, a Capstone imprint, and Magic Wagon from Abdo.


Opportunities for author/ illustrators. 


You'll find nonfiction written as poetry.

This one is from Picture Windows (Capstone).

This one is from Millbrook, an imprint of Lerner.

Graphic nonfiction burst onto the scene a few years ago and is a favorite of many teachers looking for creative ways to present information to their reluctant readers.

Rourke's Illustrated History

Capstone's Graphic Science. Max Axiom as the narrator has been a huge success.

Narrative nonfiction uses writing techniques that fiction writers employ, like character, setting, and narrative arc, to create a more readable text that is still completely nonfiction. Bearport markets their books with this narrative nonfiction tagline. Their books are all built around this model. Read Dolphins in the Navy for an example.



AV2 by Weigl creates audio-visual enhanced nonfiction. By going to a website and typing in a code from the book, teachers can access audio clips, video imaging, web links, and downloadable games and quizzes based on the book. All materials are accessible for smart boards. This spread is from Racoons in the Animals in My Backyard series.



Many publishers carry a line of Hi/Lo books. High interest, meaning things that a student might do in his spare time without the aid of an adult. Written at a Low reading level.

Snap books are middle grade hi/lo books for girls from Capstone.


You'll also find lots of publishers with books written on difficult subjects at a lower reading level for struggling readers who still need the content information. Heinemann's Freestyle imprint mirrors books from their regular line, but written at a lower reading level.
Geology Rocks targets 6th to 10th grade readers, but it's written at a 6th grade reading level. 
Here is a spread from Geology Rocks written at a third grade reading level.  







Monday, May 14, 2012

How Much Nonfiction Do You Need?

Just walk in to doors of any school library (think elementary and middle school here--only because that's my focus in these posts) and you'll find rows and rows of nonfiction books. Most libraries use the Dewey Classification System. You'll find nonfiction books on everything you can think of arranged by Dewey classification numbers.


But how much nonfiction do you need? The figures below represent the percentage of books recommended in each range based on an elementary school with about 500 students.

Dewey Elementary    #      Books



000 Generalities 1% 90
100 Philosophy and psychology 1% 90
200 Religion 1% 90
300 Social sciences 5% 450
398.2 Folk Tales and Fairy Tales 6% 540
400 Language 1% 90
500 Natural sciences and mathematics 10% 900
600 Technology (Applied sciences) 7% 630
700 The arts Fine and decorative arts 6% 540
800 Literature and rhetoric 4% 360
900 Geography and history 6% 540
920-921 Biographies 4% 360
[REF] Reference

2% 180




[E] Easy Fiction 22% 1,980
[F] Fiction 24% 2,160


Fiction rounds out the list.for a total of about 9,000 books.



Over half the library should be nonfiction. This fits with the new Common Core Standards that will require 50% of all elementary reading be nonfiction.

In middle school, the recommended percentage of nonfiction jumps to 80%. Common Core standards require 75% of all reading in middle and high school be nonfiction.

The following table is from a middle school of about 700 students. It gives you an idea of the proportions media specialists work toward.


  Dewey     Middle       # Books
[F] Fiction       20% 1,400
000 Generalities       2% 140
100 Philosophy & psychology       2% 140
200 Religion       1% 70
300 Social sciences      10% 700
400 Language       1% 70
500 Natural sciences & mathematics      12% 840
600 Technology (Applied sciences)      10% 700
700 The arts Fine and decorative arts      11% 770
800 Literature & rhetoric       3% 210
900 Geography & history      13% 910
920-921 Biographies 11% 770
[REF] Reference 4% 280
7,000

If you're a writer in the educational market, this should give you food for thought.



Friday, May 11, 2012

Traveling with my Daddy

This past weekend I spoke to a group of children's writers in Cumming, Ga. The library is about half way between Atlanta and the north Georgia mountains, on Settingdown Road. My dad rode up with me, and since we didn't really know where we were going, we arrived early. I commented that I knew whoever named that road didn't pronounce it Settingdown Road. We drove around a bit thinking we might find a cup of coffee. Instead we found a yard sale, and I bought a bicycle for my grandson. My dad laughed and said we drove 200 miles to go to a yardsale and buy an $8 bike. But you always need an adventure, right?

On the way back, we passed a church named Settendown Road Church. Aha! I knew it. This is the South, after all.

My daddy is a funny man. I remember hearing his laughter often when I was growing up. He laughed with friends, with family, with strangers. He was always pulling practical jokes on my very gullible aunt. He can make you sit on the edge of your seat for the punch line to a joke you've heard a hundred times. The funniest things come out of his mouth. You just never know when to expect them.

Once at the end of a day, I asked if he was tired.
      "I sure am," he said. "I've been up and down those stairs so many times today, if they'd been sandpaper, my legs would be worn off down to my knees." And he never even cracked a smile, until I nearly fell off the sofa laughing.

We spent the rest of the weekend with my brother and his wife is Hiawassee. They were having a biker's convention at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds. The place was already pretty crowded by Saturday. Driving home to Columbus, we passed hundreds of bikers going north. To Hiawassee? My daddy said,
"There won't be a stick of ground big enough to park a motorcycle on when all these folks get up there. One of those farmers could make some money if he rented out his cow pasture."


At the GA 400, we figured about 25 people every ten seconds passed through the toll plaza, on a Sunday afternoon. That comes out to a lot of money. I'm thinking about who gets the money, who distributes it, and what do they do with it.

My daddy says, "You reckon where that money goes that people throw in those baskets. There's got to be a big hole in the ground to hold all those quarters. You'd have to have a dump truck to haul it all off. I'm glad I don't have to collect it at the end of the day."

Where do those quarters go?

 I love traveling with my daddy. So here's a poem I wrote for him.



The Mechanics of Sound

Sitting on the fender, I watched him
beneath the hood of his pickup truck.
Dissatisfied with the hum, he’d tinker,
searching for a recurring motif,
precise rhythms hidden in the pistons,
smooth clicks, pitched
counterpoint to the road-ready purr.

Then he’d sit me in his lap to race
Mr. Tom’s mule down the fence-row.
I’d smile and wave while I victory-lapped
around Johnson’s pond to the highway.
Then I’d slide off his leg, lean
against his shoulder, and keep time
to his whistling tune.


         --Doraine Bennett


Irene is hosting the roundup over at Live Your Poem.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What You Might Write for an Educational Publisher

As I said in the previous post, educational publishing runs the gamut from board books to college texts. Below you'll find a list of types of writing you might do at the very lowest levels in this market, with suggestions of a few publishers who market each type of product. The list is not exhaustive, but it should give you a starting point for finding materials and publishers that you might want to explore.


Board Books - Rourke, PowerKids, DK
  • There has been a push for nonfiction board books in the last couple of years, especially with the Common Core Standards moving much of in-school reading to nonfiction texts. Nonfiction board books give even the youngest readers an introduction to informational reading. Take a look at Rourke's nonfiction board books, and their Little Birdie Board Books. 


Leveled Readers - Red Rocket Readers, Teacher Created Materials, Bellwether 



Many educational publishers have a line of leveled readers. A true leveled reader collection contains lots of books that allow readers to progress incrementally in their journey toward fluency. The goal of any leveled reader program is to develop word recognition, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.   Look at Red Rocket Readers designed by Pam Holden, 30-year Reading Recovery teacher. These are out of New Zealand. Also see TCM's Time for Kids Readers. Rigby from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is also a big name in leveled readers. 



Bellwether books are similar in feel to leveled readers, but they are produced for the library market in library bound editions. 










You'll find many choices for early nonfiction among the educational publishers. The larger publishers have imprints that identify their early nonfiction.





Next week we'll look at some of the more traditional nonfiction publishers for elementary students.










Monday, May 7, 2012

Writing for the Educational Market

On Saturday, I presented at a workshop on Writing for the Educational Market at the Hampton Parks Library in Cumming, Ga. As usual, I never thought about photos.
This is from the library's website.
Heather Kolich, Southern Breeze local liason, set the meeting up and got the word out. I had a great time talking to this group of children's writers, all interested in writing for the educational market. They asked questions and participated and were just an all-around blast to interact with. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My goal is to begin posting some notes on my experience in this market once or twice a week. In my day job, I'm a sales representative for Delaney Educational Enterprises. I spend two to four days a week in schools talking with media specialists and literacy coaches about their needs. I attend two conferences a year where publishers come and talk about their company and their new spring and fall line up of books.  Sometimes it's a publisher rep who presents this information, but sometimes it's the owner or editor of the company. There are anywhere from 30 to 50 Delaney reps in attendance and usually about 15 publishers--a small setting where conversation and mingling is encouraged. I get a chance to pick a lots of brains. So I have a perspective that is somewhat unusual for a children's writer.

I hope you'll come along for the ride. Feel free to ask questions. I'll answer everything that I can.


What is the Educational Market?


Writing for the educational market spans everything from alphabet books to college texts. It includes
flash cards, educational puzzles and games, subject related magazines for students, Weekly newspapers for students, testing materials, materials for teachers and librarians, education films, text books, and leveled readers.

It includes fiction, as well as the standard nonfiction most of us think of when we say "the educational market."

Anything and everything written or designed for use to help educate students. For our purposes, I’m limiting the discussion to materials written specifically to meet the needs of teachers and students in the elementary or middle school market. I will touch a bit on high school books for struggling readers, but those are written at lower reading levels, and are more in line with elementary/middle school guidelines.

These materials are sold directly into schools. You will rarely see them in a book store with the trade publishers, although there are a few who cross over--Lerner, Scholastic, Penguin, -- and Capstone recently announced a trade line. They are sold by a publisher’s sales rep or by what’s called a book distributer, commonly known in the industry as a book jobber. This is a company that represents multiple publishers. I am a sales rep for Delaney Educational Enterprises, and we deal with over 150 publishers. I also have access to trade publishers through Ingram's iPage.

 Why write for the Educational Market? 

Nancy I. Sanders in her book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get them Published and Build a Successful Writing Career, talks about the reasons we write. We write because we love it, because we want to see our name in print, and because we want to make money. So often we try to make one manuscript fill all those desires. Nancy offers some excellent hints on how to divide your writing time and energy. My novel took years to complete, and it still has no home, but I wrote it because I loved the story. I have short articles published in both children’s and adult magazines, most of them didn’t pay much money, but my name is on them. The place I have made money, while waiting for the novel project to see the light of day (or die quietly), is in the educational market. 

If you know you're a fiction writer and that all you ever want to do, that's fine. You just have to realize that it may be years before you see your name in print or deposit a check in your account.

Most projects in this market are work-for-hire. The writer is paid a flat fee for the manuscript, no royalties. The publisher retains the copyright on the book. Most projects are nonfiction, but not all. It’s still hard work. You are still expected to develop your craft. You often have short deadlines, and you’d better be able to meet them or you won’t have work the next time assignments are passed out. 

Can you earn a living at it? I wouldn't give up your day job, but if you work at it, you can earn decent money here. I have one friend who put her son through college with work for hire projects. It's less competitive than the trade market and offers a way to get published work onto your resume. You're always learning something new. 

Is it worth it? Absolutely. 

I hope I can help you find your way into this arena in the children's publishing world. 



Friday, May 4, 2012

Sonnets in the Strangest Places

This crossed my facebook page this week from a friend and professor Cornell University and I thought I'd share. I'm not very active on Twitter, just haven't found a way to factor it into my schedule. But Tweets in iambic pentameter? That's something worth checking out. Here's the article on Weird Internets. Here's the rotating collection of fourteen twitter sonnets at Pentametron.





Pentametron uses an algorithm to find and retweet rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter.

And here's a sample:

Pentametron
With algorithms subtle and discrete
I seek iambic writings to retweet.


Im never going finish this essay!
i had the best mcdonalds tea today .
Done with the social networks for tonight
But hey, whatever happens, happens right?

Still gotta pay the consequences though.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall with the bro :)
To think the Rockets drafted Rudy Gay... ��
I wish the weekend had a extra day
Your just an angel with a broken wing.
Wow. This exploded from the smallest thing.
Feels like a roller coaster everyday
Tá super legal o panico k
We're drifting slow into the so unknown
I hope Dakota didn't break a bone.


Happy Poetry Friday! Elaine hosts the round up at Wild Rose Reader.