Sunday, 1 July 2012

Inside the education book market.. Panel: Meredith Costain, Sheryl Gwyther, Lesley Vamos, Maria Gill

SCBWI blogger & roving reporter: Wendy Fitzgerald
What do you need to know to enter the world of educational publishing?

Successful creators discuss their books and how they work with educational publishers. Some of the points they made:

Dianne Wolfer, Maria Gill, Sheryl Gwyther, Lesley Ramos, Meredith Costain
 Meredith Costain- Very versatile. Editor of explore and comet.
  • Started writing for Victorian Ed Dept magazines
  • Fiction and non fiction articles
  • Emergent readers – must have beginning, middle, end and a problem
  • Photos can help
  • Values education- popular
  • Manga style is a new way
  • Once you start to meet a few editors- you can get some commissioned work

 Maria Gill - Mostly educational writer. Primary teacher.
  • Started off with trade books
  • Was a teacher- started writing teaching notes etc
  • Reader’s theatre scripts-
  • Advises to keep in touch and join writer’s centre etc.
  • Keep your eyes open and look for opportunities
  • Sometimes send an email to publishing houses and let them know you’re available- then make sure you get things in on time.
  • 2 different types of writing -Project based writing – publisher gives out topics and Pitch your own ideas
Sheryl Gwyther - Author / Assistant Regional Advisor SCBWI Qld
  • Writes junior fiction
  • Started writing non fiction articles and chapter books for younger children.
  • Wrote for magazines- Pearson Education (not around now)
  • Meredith Costain was her editor
  • Loved doing research on fossils and flesh eating beetles.
  • Come up with an idea that’s different with photos
  • NSW School Magazine is a great pubisher - please support it.
  • A lot of authors have started off with them.
  • Worked for Blake Education and Pearson Education on their chapter book series
Lesley Vamos - Illustrator / Did gorgeous logo for conference.
  • Recently started working for The School Magazine
  • She loves illustrating all the different stories
Chaired Dianne Wolfer

What is the difference between educational and trade?
Trade- books that go into the market place
Educational- targeted to the curriculum- sold into schools
Happy audience
Royalties or Flat fee?
Generally flat fee wipes out the PLR and ELR
Always ask about contract.

Very market driven
Very detailed illustration briefing

Tips for emerging authors
  • Do research, write letters, send portfolio, show that you can tell stories
  • Make friends, make connections, talk to people
  • It doesn’t happen over night.
  • Tell people what you do
  • Business card
  • Follow the publisher’s instructions perfectly
  • Don’t be precious… things will get changed.
  • If you have a good idea…. Write it in different styles and send off to trade and education.
  • Get a list of educational publishers – Google them
  • Agents are usually more interested in trade
  • PIO and Buzzwords are good emails newsletters to subscribe to. 


  1. Hope the conference went well- missed you all- but still London is a good compensation! Thanks for the blog Sheryl!

  2. As a writer you need to diversify if you want to earn a decent income (especially if you write full time). We talked about this on the Educational Panel. I picked up some names of publishing houses I'll be contacting - I hope you did too.

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