Posted by: nancyisanders | September 5, 2014

New Contracts

As I’m racing to get my current project deadlines and book deadlines done, I wanted to share what’s been happening in my corner of the world.

I had 3 new contracts cross my desk this past week that I signed.

One was for a brand new picture book due out next Spring.

One was for a set of 30 early reader books–the first 10 due out next Spring.

One was for a work-for-hire project for devotions for teens. Not sure when it’s due out.

So here’s why I’m telling you this.

Do you have questions that popped into your head when you read about these? If so, please feel free to ask! I think it’s important that we as writers network together and help each other along our writing journey.

Of course, some stuff is confidential due to publisher’s policies, but I’m happy to share anything that you’d like to know. If something has to stay confidential, I’ll just let you know.

But here’s your chance…go ahead and ask any question you’ve been wanting to ask another writer about stuff like this! I’ll share an answer from my desk.


  1. Hi Nancy, hope you are well!

    Congratulations on your latest contracts!

    Thanks for the opportunity to ask questions!

    In your experience what do you feel is the best approach for applying for work-for-hire projects? How does one research such opportunities?

    Have an inspirational day!


    • Thanks, Donna! And here are some thoughts about finding work-for-hire projects…There are 2 main kinds of publishers who do work-for-hire. One pretty much does ALL work-for-hire and for these publishers they usually have a list of steps you need to do to get your name on their list of potential authors. This usually involves sending sample published work and your resume, etc.

      The second kind of publisher who does work-for-hire also has publishes trade books. For example, when I wrote for Concordia, I first sent them proposals for work-for-hire projects and then as I got to know the editor I pitched her proposals for royalty-based projects. I just did that with one of my current editors, too…I originally did several books with her work-for-hire but then pitched her a proposal for a royalty-based project and she said “yes.”

      So…my tip for the best approach for researching opportunities and applying for work-for-hire projects? I have 2:
      1) Study marketing leads and editor interviews at places such as Children’s Book Insider, the Institute of Children’s Literature, and SCBWI. See if anyone is open to new submissions. If so, follow their submission guidelines to submit to them.
      2) Look on Amazon or at a local bookstore or teacher’s bookstore and find newly published books where you say, “I think I could write something like that.” Then google that publisher’s submissions guidelines and submit to them.

      You’ll know they do work-for-hire if the copyright is in the publisher’s name.

      Also, I know folks here who read my blog find opportunities online at places where publishers post new writing opportunities, so sign up for those, too.

      • Thanks for your valuable information. I appreciate your time and insights!

  2. Nancy, you amaze me!
    Are you signing with new editors/houses, or do you and your editor work together on these new projects? (same house or house within house)

    • Hi Mona! Let’s see…here’s the info on these 3 new contracts:
      These 3 contracts are with 3 different publishers.
      1) The picture book was a manuscript I wrote that my agent placed with a publisher who requires agent-only submissions. Brand new publisher and brand new editor for me.
      2) The set of early readers was an idea I pitched to my editor who I was already working on work-for-hire projects. So this is my first royalty-based project with her. I knew the publisher did both kinds so I was waiting to establish a footing with this publisher before I pitched my own idea.
      3) The work-for-hire contract I just signed was with a different publisher I had already published royalty-based books with. I was contacted by a different editor at the publisher and asked if I’d work on an in-house idea.

  3. Congratulations, Nancy! Awesome! Can you share who the publishers are? Has the pb ms been written yet?

    • Thanks, Tina! And no I can’t share yet who the publishers are because the info is all under wraps. But next spring when the books are released, I’ll let everyone know. And YES. I wrote the picture book, sent it to my agent, and she placed it with a new publisher I’ve never worked with before.

      • OK. Thanks! I’ll have to wait!

  4. Three contracts, how exciting! Congrats!

  5. Dear Nancy,

    Thank you so much for sharing your contracts and asking for questions. I have been following you since I started writing for children three years ago and I’m reading your book “Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career”.

    I do have a lot of questions for you, but I’ll ask three of them now.
    1) Are the picture book and early reader book contacts you recently signed non-fiction or fiction?
    2) As an expert in the field, do you know any need of picture books or early reader books that are related to Chinese culture?
    3) Do the publishers you work with who publish Christian books also consider books for other religions such as Buddhism?

    Thank you so much!
    Ping Wan

    • Hi Ping Wan, it was so nice to hear from you! I’m so glad you are writing for children now and I hope that you have great success on your journey. Here are answers to your questions:

      1) The picture book is fiction and the early-readers are non-fiction.
      2) I personally don’t know any editors on the look-out for books about the Chinese culture. But I know many publishers are very, very interested in this! Here are some I recommend that you look into:
      Lee and Low (they do picture books and open submissions to new authors from time to time)
      Scholastic (they have many imprints and some are open to new authors and are interested in books on Chinese culture)
      Also check out Charlesbridge and Chronicle books.
      Another way to look for this is to go online at Amazon and do an “Advanced Search” for children’s books and the topic is “Chinese” See which publishers come up and look into their submissions guidelines.
      3) And the publishers I work with who publish Christian books only do Christian books, not other religions.

      Hope that helps!

      • Dear Nancy, thank you so much for the information. This helps a lot!

  6. Congratulations on the new contracts!! I am blown away by the fact that you will be writing ten books for that second contract by next Spring. (I know you can do it, but it sounds like a lot to me!) About how long are early reader books?

    • Thanks, Katlyn! But actually those sets of 30 early reader books are very, very short so they’re very doable in 3 months or on a tight tight deadline even in one month if I really focus on them. It gets kind of dizzy sometimes working at that pace but because they’re all the same “format” it makes it more do-able.

  7. Wow, I cannot imagine how you manage to do all you do. Can I ask how you got the contract for the 30 early reader books?

    • Thanks for your question, Chris. And yes! This is one of the few times in my whole career that I actually wrote some of these before I landed the contract. I had written a bunch of them years ago, but I wasn’t sure where to submit them. So they have been in my file cupboard for a long, long time. I’ve been working with a editor on work-for-hire projects recently and thought these might really really interest her, so recently I pulled them out of the cupboard and asked if she was interested in them. She was! So now I’m writing new stories to complete the set along with parent-led material to go along with them.

  8. Congrats on the contracts, and thanks for the opportunity to ask questions. Can you share what your word count target is for the early readers?
    Do you have to make them fit to a “level 2” (or whatever system the publisher uses) and can you share any guidelines you follow to make that happen?

    • Thanks for your warm wishes, Lauri!

      Because this is a unique project, I can’t really share the word count just yet ’cause that’s under wraps. You’ll find that out when the books are released in Spring, 2015.

      But I can answer your second question. Yes, I have to make these fit a certain level of readability. It’s kind of an involved process…have you read my book, YES! YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO WRITE BEGINNING READERS AND CHAPTER BOOKS? In that book I explain the guidelines writers have to follow for each of the different levels. For example, in the books I’m working on, I’m using grade-level word lists and vocabulary for my particular target level. Plus emphasizing decoding skills by having very specific art to SHOW kids what the text means. I have to draw art mock-ups of stick figures for every page in each book so the artist knows how the art is supposed to support the text to help the readers figure out the words. (And the artist is doing a fabulous job, I must add!)

      Does that help answer your question? If not, let me know and I’ll try to answer it better. :o)

      • I haven’t read it yet, but I enjoyed the review in the SCBWI bulletin this month 🙂 Thanks for the advice.

  9. Congratulations Nancy! This is a wonderful way to start a fall season. As an author/illustrator I get caught up in how to approach publishers and agents. As an illustrator or as an author or both? My writing is for varied age groups. Is the best approach to query each title separately? Also I have two versions of the same picture book story, should I send them both or not. I know this is hard to answer without seeing them, but I appreciate your insight.
    Thank you and again, congratulations!

    • Thank you! And these are such great questions. And guess what? This is the day for author/illustrators!!! It used to be in this industry that publishers never wanted people to illustrate their own work but today with lack of staff and shortage of art editors at publishing houses, many publishers are looking for author/illustrators. Hooray for you!

      Here’s the easiest way to find publishers who want to work with author/illustrators: search in your local bookstore or on Amazon for current books that are written and illustrated by the same person. (Think Jon Klassen, Timothy Roland and Monkey Me, Peter Brown books, Brian Selznick)

      And if you’re approaching agents, google searches to see who the agents are for these author/illustrators and contact those agents as well!

      Then submit your manuscript with a cover letter explaining that you are an author/illustrator and would be happy to both write and illustrate your book but are also open to having the publisher acquire either an author or an illustrator if they’d prefer a team effort.

      And no, I wouldn’t submit two versions of the same picture book…ask your writing/art buddies to help you choose which one is best and send that one in. If you get an editor’s interest, that would be the time to share with them that there are 2 versions to choose from.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thank you so much. I will look for these author/illustrators and follow where that leads. Take care and thank you again:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: