KNOWHOW Educational Publishing (Part 2)

In the second part of this KnowHow series, Lynn Huggins-Cooper is sharing her expertise on educational publishing and how you can open up a new world of possibilities.

Part 2

Educational Publishers and Book Packagers

Large publishers and many smaller and independent publishers have an educational imprint. Some smaller publishers and indies may only publish educational books – it’s a big market and worth searching online and in the Writer and Artists Yearbook for details.

Working with an educational publisher is a great way to establish a profile; educational books from large, established publishing houses are often sold in massive quantities and are highly publicised. Your platform as an educational writer can be grown quickly, having a snowball effect which gives you leverage when submitting to other educational publishers and sources of work.

I have always worked directly with publishers on educational books without an agent, but some agents do cover educational work; this can be useful for getting a ‘foot in the door’ for some of the well-established reading schemes for example. Agents can also of course be invaluable in terms of negotiating reasonable contact terms.

Book packagers are contracted by many publishers to produce books and series to be sold under their imprint or name. Packagers may generate ideas for series themselves that they then sell publishers, or they may be engaged by publishers to work on existing concepts for book series.

Some packagers have in-house teams; others employ freelancers –and some have a hybrid model. Book packagers commission writers, artists, design teams, editors and fact checkers to produce books for publishers – often on a tight schedule and budget. They often also work on highly illustrated books including many school and library series of CNF.

Things to consider When I started out in educational publishing, all of my work was on an advance plus royalties basis; in recent times this convention has all but disappeared in favour of flat fee work which is a great shame – some books stay in print for many years in a variety of guises and continue to earn royalty payments. A flat fee is where the author is contracted to write to a defined brief for a fee. No royalties are paid; this is the only money the author will receive for their work – however many copies of the book (or books) are sold.

The bad news is, the flat fees offered are not large amounts of money. Educational writing can lead to a poor ‘hourly rate’ when changes and edits are added in to the equation – so think carefully about whether a project is worth your while before signing on the dotted line. It is worth trying to negotiate for higher fees, but your success with this depends on the publisher and your level of experience or expertise. Ensure that the details of how many edits and/or changes are expected as part of the project and make sure this is included in your contract. Some publishers have been known to change concepts in the course of the project and expect authors to do extra work without extra pay; sometimes in this situation, with ethical publishers, an extra fee can be negotiated successfully.

Despite these considerations, educational writing is a great source of work for many writers and illustrators – so stick with me! Next month, we are looking closely at one of the biggest markets of all – home learning.

 *Header image: In-house collaboration between Ell Rose and Tita Berredo




Often described as a prolific writer with a diverse portfolio, Lynn Huggins-Cooper has written everything from picture books and MG series to YA novels. She has written for children’s TV series, comics, websites,  and as a features writer for the Times Educational Supplement.

Lynn lectures on the BA (Hons) Creative Writing at Falmouth University. She has many ‘past lives’ that have seeped into her writing, including working as a wildlife warden at a lighthouse, and as an outward-bound instructor with young offenders.

She co-organises SCBWI North-East with Lucy Farfort and lives with her husband in a tiny house next to 900 acres of forest in the far north of England.

Find Lynn:
X (Twitter): @HugginsCooper



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