Increase your income in the children's-book market
ONLINE COLUMN: Writing for Children
Published: December 21, 2009
|Q: How can I earn a better income as a children's writer?|
Few children's magazines offer a hefty paycheck for writing an article or story. Unless you write frequently for the biggest children's magazines, it's best to target book publishers if you want to earn a decent income in this industry. Nancy I. Sanders
Even beginning writers can land a contract to write a children's book. Breaking into the children's-book industry is similar in many respects to breaking into a new magazine: Look for the editors who work with first-time authors and look for the "filler" niches. Work-for-hire puzzle books, craft books, Sunday-school-curriculum books—these are the types of markets that are similar to "fillers" in the magazine market and are more open to beginning writers. (Work-for-hire means the publisher keeps all rights to an author's material and usually pays the author a one-time sum, regardless of how many books sell. In a royalty-based contract, the author usually keeps the copyright and is paid a percentage for each book that sells.) Also target publishers who are listed in the Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market as working with a substantial number of first-time authors.
Learn how to find a hole in a series. In my book Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children's Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career, I call this being a "piggyback writer." Learn how to piggyback on the success of an existing series in today's market so that its success becomes your success.
Look for a series or group of books that are similar yet written by various authors. Study a publisher's Web site and look for groups of books on a similar topic that you feel qualified to write for. Brainstorm ideas for potential titles for the next books in that series. Then contact the publisher with a query and pitch three to five ideas for landing the next book contract in that series. If the publisher offers you a contract to write a book, your book will piggyback on that series and your income and sales will reflect its success.
Career writers can get in a rut that seriously affects their income. Children's writers who land multiple book contracts on a steady basis in the work-for-hire market can feel like mice running endlessly on a tread wheel. Every six weeks or so they have to pump out a new book to keep earning the same income as before. Or, children's writers who only sign royalty-based contracts with five- or six-figure advances may find themselves spending more and more time in between book contracts given today's strapped economy, where drastic changes occur daily in the industry.
Strive to create a balance between royalty-based contracts and work-for-hire contracts. Branch out to explore the other side of the industry. Don't be afraid to sign a work-for-hire contract or two on topics you don't plan to write about in the future if it will increase your income this year. Likewise, if you're used to working on a work-for-hire basis, start researching publishers who offer royalty-based contracts. Make time in your busy work schedule to send out queries to land contracts that can generate income SEVERAL YEARS DOWN THE ROAD. Maintaining this type of balance can be just the income boost you've been looking for.
|Nancy I. Sanders|
Nancy I. Sanders is the author of over 75 books, including her newest release, America's Black Founders: Revolutionary Heroes and Early Leaders (Chicago Review Press). Web: www.nancyisanders.com.