Three Reasons to Give Children’s Nonfiction a Try

Saturday, January 02, 2021


If one of your goals for 2021 (Happy New Year!) is to get more of your writing out in the world, consider writing nonfiction for young readers. You’re a fiction author? That’s great, but don't write off nonfiction just yet.  

I’ve had numerous agents and editors tell me that they majority of manuscripts they get are fiction. This means that nonfiction is a great way to break into print and to get your name in front of your target agent or editor, assuming that they do both fiction and nonfiction. 

Still not certain? Here are three reasons to give writing juvenile nonfiction a try in 2021. 

For All Ages 

It doesn’t matter what age group you enjoy writing for, there is nonfiction for all ages. There are board books for toddlers and picture books for preschoolers and early grade school. Tween and teen nonfiction covers readers from middle through high school. 

If you have a favorite age, there is nonfiction for that age group. Me? I’ve written for all ages but my sweet spot is tweens and teens. I can nail an 8th grade reading level with no effort. 

A Wide Variety of Topics 

Not sure what you could write about? The range of topics for juvenile nonfiction is vast. Think about the things that interested you as a kid. Now add in the things that interest you now. No, seriously. I’ve written about saving money, the ancient Maya, and horses. I’ve handled current events including impeachment, the Electoral College, and oil pipelines. Things I haven’t written about, but are covered by other writers, include fashion and sports. 

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) are in demand. This is especially true if you are a professional working in a science field or if you can slant a topic so that it interests girls. I’m not convinced that interesting girls in science is as hard as convincing adult gate keepers that the topic will interest girls but that’s another column. 

Whether you favor STEM or the Humanities, the topics that publishers need are vast and that’s reason #3 to give nonfiction a try. 

Publishers Are Buying 

Even in the past year when things were rocky and uncertain, publishers put out calls and were buying. I’ve had published authors tell me this isn’t true but I wrote three books under contract and cashed the checks. Highlights High Five put out a call for their nonfiction categories which included crafts, recipes and pieces that connect to the daily lives of children. I’ve got two pieces sitting with them. 

Things have been uncertain, but publishers are still buying even if they aren’t buying as much as they have in the past. Why not get your work in front of them? The key may be the right piece of nonfiction. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins January 4, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins January 4, 2021). 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--You are the Queen of nonfiction, as far as I'm concerned. The topics (and people) you've researched and written about is inspiring. So inspiring, you might have nudged me into looking into writing and submitting something nonfiction... Just not today.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Sioux- Thank you! And some day I will succeed and tempt you to give it a try.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Sue, I've submitted at least two nonfiction children's manuscripts in the past to publishers but never had any success, so I put them aside. Now, I am encouraged to revisit them, and revise, and resubmit, thanks to you. Great post.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Sometimes it is just a matter of submitting to the right editor or agent at just the right time. The market changes constantly. Good luck!

Renee Roberson said...

Great words of encouragement! I haven't ever considered writing nonfiction for tweens/teens but bet I could come up with a few ideas, especially if I bounce them off my own teens. Maybe I could start off with some shorter articles to wade into the market. One of the writers I work with sold a book to a small press that is a year's worth of writing prompts based off the Roblox online gaming platform. I thought that was a cool way to engage young writers in a way that isn't playing video game, but inspired by it.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

That's a great idea with the Roblox, esp. if the writer is into gaming. Writing the book on professional gamers was fun and I learned a lot.

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