I know some of our blog readers are writers. As someone who hires writers for assignments, I wanted to put out a few tips for would-be authors.
First, take a look at a company's submission guidelines. Here are Capstone's submission guidelines. Next, know your publisher. Here's a little bit about how we decide what to publish. In nonfiction, we typically do work-for-hire projects where the publisher owns the copyright. Authors are typically hired to write a book to our specifications, curriculum and otherwise. We are serving a specific need in the market.
In your cover letter, include information about subjects of interest. What are your hobbies? Did you work in a field other than English or journalism? Have you served in the military? We are always looking to match up interests with assignments.
When submitting writing samples, don’t pick the ones that read like a dry essay for English class. Even though we are committed to the facts in nonfiction, we still want something to delight and surprise us, and so do the kids who read our books. We still want a voice. You need to stand out from the crowd.
I actually prefer to see samples that haven’t been edited by someone else. I want to see what kind of writing is actually going to come to me. Because we hire on spec, we have choose you based on what we think you’ll do, rather than a finished manuscript that we decide whether or not to publish.
Another tip: Don't call or email every three weeks looking for an assignment. We typically hire about every six months, so an email once every six months or so is perfectly fine. Calling every three weeks does not come across as “proactive.”
After you’re hired, there is something else to keep in mind. Be nice. Even if the images are not exactly what you would have chosen. Even if the editor needed to change wording or chop something to fit. Care about your work, but be constructive when discussing changes. Be nice and stay positive, and we'll do the same.
Here’s the honest truth: If an author is difficult to deal with, we will not keep hiring him or her. We have many other people who want to write. We are continually under pressure to be more efficient and do more with less. If an author makes our job more difficult, we will look for someone who doesn’t.
These tips are meant to be helpful. We love our authors and know we couldn't do this without them. So, if you are an author, best of luck in your writing endeavors.
Gillia Olson, Managing Editor, Capstone