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

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





If you are not one of those writers or illustrators able to earn huge royalties, your best chances of financial success from writing or illustrating children’s books are working on several different projects for a range of publishers. This takes some organization, but is well worth it.


Consider the following and their potential for earning good money for your work:


• Each project has considerable downtimes, such as waiting for the publisher to respond, for artwork to be produced, for the text to be edited and proofread, for 1st pages to be produced and reviewed by everyone in the creative team. You can fill these times with other paying projects. Projects with educational publishers and for magazines can be easy to secure and are short-term.

• Variety allows you to widen your range of skills, contacts in the industry, and helps you identify your creative and negotiating strengths (and weaknesses) and ultimate goals.

• Having all your work with one publisher or editor is dangerous—the project may get delayed, postponed or even cancelled, and the editor may fall ill, leave, or be moved to another division. If getting paid by the publisher is also painful, you have a serious financial problem. 

• By working with several publishers you get a better understanding of how projects are costed out and how much it is possible to earn for each job you do. 

• Working on several projects builds up your writing and/or illustrating portfolio very quickly.

• In children’s nonfiction publishing, working on projects of many different subjects and on a variety of formats makes you more attractive as a writer or illustrator for all publishers and book packagers.



Here is a web page of a successful children’s book writer—SCBWI member Melissa Stewart—who takes variety of work to the highest level.

 © Melissa Stewart


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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