BUSINESS KNOWHOW Making money from writing (part three) – with Lionel Bender

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




Another way to earn good money from your writing and/or illustrating is to research, recycle and repurpose.


For any significant project, you are going to invest a huge amount of time planning and researching. Before you start, consider how you may be able to exploit your efforts many times over. From one body of information or illustrations, you can create several different products and pitch them to a range of publishers. 


With, say, a proposal for a series about historical figures, you can present this as:

  • chapter books and a one-volume bind-up for Trade publishers. This can be as fiction, or nonfiction, or both.
  • easy readers for School-and-Library publishers.
  • a collection of poems or profiles.
  • monthly feature articles in magazines.
  • activity projects for Educational publishers.


The concept can also be developed for school visits, podcasts, blogs and submissions to History websites.


Similarly, an art bank of dinosaur illustrations can be used as the basis for a graphic novel, quiz books, several information books, and a single volume on prehistoric life.  


Of course, you should not – and contractually may not be able to – produce competitive projects simultaneously. But there are so many different ways of approaching a subject, as the hundreds of dinosaur books or historical novels in print go to show. 


Whatever you produce can be repurposed or modified some years later and submitted to a different group of publishers for a completely new set of books. The material can also be used to produce materials for the non-traditional market, such as children’s museum guides, educational games, posters, websites and electronic games.


Here is an example of repurposing. Bender Richardson White’s brief was to produce four 32-page paperback dinosaur books for a magazine company (bottom left in image below). We made hardback editions of these and sold them to educational publishers (top right). We also produced a 128-page single volume title that sold many co-editions (top left). Later, art from the project was recycled and used as part of two more dinosaur books (centre, top and bottom) and in magazines (bottom right).

Image of a range of dinosaur books and magazines (Credit: Lionel Bender)

In my webinars, I talk about several additional ways to improve your chances of monetising your children’s writing and illustrating, including negotiating better contracts, finding new sources of work, and networking.

*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 has 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 by email: 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. 


Got an idea for KnowHow, or a subject you’d like to hear more on? Let us know at

No comments:

We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.