When I started writing for children, I followed the same path as a lot of new children’s writers. I wrote picture books. They weren’t altogether awful but they didn’t quite sing. I kept working on them which meant attending a critique group. One night, Tammy Duncan, a friend that I knew through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators came to the meeting. “I just bought Young Equestrian Magazine,” she said. “I need articles.”
Most of what I was working on at that were picture books although I had written and sold one rebus. I hadn’t written anything for a tween audience and I certainly hadn’t written nonfiction about horses. Still, I loved Marguerite Henry and pitched a profile to Tammy. She said yes and I got busy. Eventually, I had 18 articles to my credit and I had learned a lot.
- She taught me about market (kid’s interests vs. adult interests).
- She taught me to always have one eye on the gate keepers (adults do PG things).
- She rewrote my leads (and I studied them).
- And she helped me learn to interview kids (without also interviewing mom).
Accepting Tammy’s challenge was probably the smartest move I’ve ever made. I now have over 400 sales and only two of them are fiction. I am most definitely a nonfiction writer.
If you are interesting in learning to write nonfiction, my class Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults starts on April 7th.