BUSINESS KNOWHOW Making money from writing (part one) - with Lionel Bender


Can you really make money from writing? SCBWI's Lionel Bender shares his top tips.





If you want to earn money—or more money—from your creativity, here are some hints and tips. My Knowhow is based on my career as a writer, editor and producer of children’s books and on the experience of 100+ writers I have commissioned. 



First step—self-analysis and self-determination.


• Identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer/illustrator and your ultimate goals then make appropriate choices of where to pitch yourself and/or your ideas in the publishing marketplace.


• If you want fame and fortune, go for the Trade Market. If you’re set on a picture book or graphic novel, be prepared for rejections and for taking many years to get published. While waiting for a bite, explore other niches and take any work that comes. Each new project will increase your income stream while waiting for those royalties to kick in.


• If you want a regular stream of work and income in traditional publishing, go for the School-and-Library and Educational markets. Pitch yourself to such publishers and see what transpires.


• If you’re happy to be out of the limelight but have regular work and money, go for the Educational, Magazine and Non-traditional markets.


• If you want a regular stream of work and money from a variety of projects and are prepared to work intensely, go for Book Packagers (see my article).


• If you want to do your own thing and be in control of your own destiny, go for Self-Publishing. It is perfect for certain projects.


• Consider school and library visits and talks, mentoring other writers and illustrators, editing, proofreading, indexing, and research work. They are good sources of income.


• If one of your projects has been published in the USA or Canada, contact the publisher there directly—or get your agent to do that—and see what happens. The North American children’s book market is more than six times bigger than the UK market, so your royalty advance or flat fees are likely to be far greater. The SCBWI Essential Guide is packed with information and contacts for this market.

Cover image of SCBWI Essential Guide from SCBWI website

Feature Image: photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash


SCBWI member Lionel Bender has written 65 children’s books and edited and produced more than 1,400 children’s books. He was founder of book packager Bender Richardson White, which operated for 31 years. He offers advice to writers and illustrators on such skills as finding and securing projects and maximizing networking at conferences and book fairs. Contact See his four highly reviewed webinars at


Jo E. Verrill is an enthusiastic writer of humorous books for children, an advertising and broadcasting standards consultant and Words & Pictures’ KnowHow editor. 


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