Children’s Nonfiction: Changing with the Times

The world is a rapidly changing place but this isn’t a post about trends.  Okay, I guess it is in a way.  But it isn’t a post about chasing trends in nonfiction.

Instead, it is a post about writing nonfiction for today’s young readers in today’s world.  What does this mean?  Keep the internet in mind as you develop your idea.

If you have an idea for a nonfiction article or book, the first thing that you should do is Google it.  And I don’t mean do a search on “horses” when your idea is to write a book about how the horse influenced plains culture.  Be specific.  Google “post contact plains culture” or “plains culture influenced by the horse.”

You want to get as close to your topic as you can because if you can.  Look through several pages of search results.  Do you see everything you were going to include?  Then don’t write the book.

Whoa!  What?

That’s right.  If a search online can turn up the information that would be in your book pretty much as you would present it, move on to another topic.  To sell an article or a book in today’s market, you need to go beyond the internet.  The problem is that if you could find the information quickly and easily, so can your reader or your reader’s parents and teachers.

To sell your idea, especially if it will be published as a hardcover book or a library bound book, you need to make it unique.  This means that it can’t have been published before as a book.  But it also means that it can’t be discovered in a simple search.  Otherwise, way pay for the book when you already pay for data and/or internet access?  It doesn’t make sense.

There are a variety of ways that you can do this.

Be creative.  Combine ideas that have never been combined before.

Be a good teacher. Explain complicated things in a way that young readers, their parents, and teachers can understand.  This is especially important when dealing with science.

Be yourself.  We each have a unique way of approaching the world.  Too often we try to fit when, as a nonfiction writer, it is time to make your own way into the publishing world.


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