One Writer’s Journey

January 21, 2015

Breaking into Print: Educational Series

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:29 am
Tags: , ,

Educational seriesWriting for a packager can be one of the best ways to break into print.  By the end of this month, I will have written 3 books for Red Line Editorial.  Red Line is producing them for Abdo.  All three of these books are being published in different series which means that I am one of several writers for each series.

Writing only one book in a series is challenging especially if this is a new series in production.  When this is the case, you don’t have a book in print to study.  Here are three tips for creating a book that will mesh with the others.

Follow the instructions.  The author’s guidelines for the series will give you detailed instructions.  Often they are too detailed to absorb all at once.  This means that you will have to go back and review them from time to time.  How long is a sidebar?  How many do you need per book?  Is the back matter part of the word count?  If something about the instructions doesn’t make sense, e-mail your editor a quick question.

Ask for a sample.  Often the instructions use phrases that, while descriptive, only tell you that they want something very specific without telling you exactly what this is.  In my own experience, I’ve encountered phrases like “conversational but academic.” Then there was the instruction to base each sidebar on a number.  Um, okay.  Too bad I’m not sure what you mean.  In both cases, I e-mailed my editor and asked, not for clarification, but a sample.  The question about tone was answered with two books in PDF format.  The question about the sidebar was answered with 6 PDF pages.  In both cases, I could scan the files and find my answers and even more.

Note series breadth.  The first book that I wrote for Red Line was about the Ancient Maya.  In addition to the Maya, I had to cover earlier cultures in the Yucatan so that readers would understand the importance of several Mayan inovations.  When I wrote my next book, on Pearl Harbor, my outline included similar background.  I had to completely redo that outline because I had failed to note that this series focused on WWII.  Much of the background for my book would be revealed in the other books in the series.

Don’t submit to just any educatoinal publisher or packager.  Most of them assign topics.  To find out who wants what, study their web sites.  You can find many of them listed here.

–SueBE

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