Taking Aim at the Non-fiction Market

The non-fiction book market for kids is alive and well, and opportunities abound for writers who want to swim in the information pool.  More non-fiction is published annually than fiction, the odds of breaking into print are better here for first-time writers, and for those wanting to challenge kids and introduce them to new subjects, non-fiction offers numerous soul-satisfying options.  A well-targeted non-fiction book – one that meets the trinity of bookstore, library and school-curriculum markets – often translates into a long shelf life, and from a monetary point of view this can mean longer-lasting royalty benefits, too.

Unfortunately, non-fiction sometimes gets a bad rap. To writers yearning for fiction’s free flow, non-fiction is often thought to be dull, dry, restrictive, lacking in creative thrills, and – it’s okay to say it out loud – even boring to write.  The good news is that modern non-fiction – especially for kids – is anything but dull and boring.  Gone are the mind-numbing texts of yesteryear that lulled us to sleep in school.  Today’s non-fiction is exciting and action-filled, and there is enough diversity in the book market to satisfy the most creative writer.

As an example, consider the proliferation of kid’s books released or re-released recently to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking.  Even though the subject matter is much the same, the slant, style, format, and targeted age-levels vary, leaving lots of wiggle room for those seeking placement in the sprawling non-fiction market.

Here’s a small sample of the opportunities non-fiction writers embraced in the lead-up to Titanic’s anniversary:

voices from the disasterTitanic: Voices from the Disaster

Deborah Hopkinson, Scholastic Press, 2012
Narrative: re-creation through survivor accounts
Ages: 8 & up

T is for TitanicT is for Titanic

Michael and Debbie Shoulders, Sleeping Bear Press 2012
Alphabet book: Poetry, sidebars of expository text
Ages: 5 to 8


882 ½ Questions about Titanic

Hugh Brewster, Scholastic Paperbacks, reissue
Facts: Question and answer format
Ages: 8 and up

Titanic Sinks

Titanic Sinks

Barry Deneuberg, Viking 2011
Articles: Newspaper and survivor accounts from the period
Ages: 9 and up


Inside the Titanic: A Giant Cutaway Book

Hugh Brewster & Ken Marshall, Madison Press, reissue
Visuals & expository text tell story of the great ship
Ages: 6 to 9

Titanic lost and foundThe Titanic: Lost and Found

Judy Donnelly, 1987
Narrative: Chapter book for beginning readers
Ages: 7 to 9

on board the titanicOn Board the Titanic (I Was There)

Shelly Tanaka, Hyperion/Madison Press, re-issued 2010
Series book: narrative account told through two young survivors
Ages: 5 and up



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