Pros and Cons of Work-For-Hire

By Gloria Adams and Lisa Amstutz

The children’s publishing industry can be tough to break into. Competition is high and budgets are low. But there’s another way to get published that many authors are unaware of: the educational market. These publishers put out educational books, often in series, that are marketed specifically to schools and libraries. While authors can pitch ideas to these publishers, they typically develop concepts in house and then hire authors to write them.

Here are a few of the pros and cons of writing for the educational market:


  • Publishing credits. This can be especially appealing as a new writer because it’s not easy to get published credits. Work-for-hire books give you a published book by an established publishing house that you can add to your resume and your cover letters to publishers and/or agents.
  • Money. Some pay more than others, but because you are working under a contract, you know you will get paid for producing the book. For some authors, this can provide a steady stream of income. School and library visits may also be an option for extra income and promotion.
  • Validation. Being published through established publishers, even if it is work for hire, means you are a good enough writer that they are willing to place their name on a product for which you wrote the text. 
  • Your name on Amazon. If it’s your first book, you will become a published author on Amazon, maybe Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and others. Your book will probably be sold to libraries, schools and bookstores. It’s promotion you don’t have to pay for.


  • Short deadlines. Turn-around time to submit outlines and finished manuscripts is usually very tight. You may only be given a week or a month to come up with an outline, depending on the length of the book. Finished manuscripts are usually due in just a few months. On the upside, books for hire are usually published within a year of the submission deadline.
  • Research. Many work-for-hire projects are non-fiction and require a lot of research. Make sure you have the time and willingness to do all the research your book requires.
  • Compliance with the publisher’s requirements. Each publisher will give you the parameters around which you must do the work for the book. These are seldom, if ever, negotiable.
  • No royalties. Work-for-hire is almost always done for a flat fee with no royalties paid after publication. This is negative in that you won’t make any more money from your book in the form of royalties, but positive in that you won’t have to do any marketing or selling.
  • Competition. There are a lot of people who would like to write books for hire. It may take a while to get a job. Also, editors move around a lot within the publishing world and the editor that hired you previously may have moved on.

If you’re willing to do the work, work-for-hire can be a great way to break into publishing, gain experience, and share your knowledge with kids. Consider giving this market a try! In our next post, we’ll tell you how to get started.

Gloria has written for Rosen, Enslow and Greenhaven Press. Lisa writes regularly for Capstone, Rourke, and others.

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