Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 19, 2012

Moonlighting – Writing Other Peoples Books

Here is a useful article that was written by Laurie Calkhovan and published in Sprouts Magazine in 2010.

We all dream of getting published the “traditional” way. An editor falls in love with our manuscript, makes an offer, and the next thing we know, we’re holding a shiny new hardcover and inviting our friends to book signings. I wish that for everyone who writes a children’s book. But there are other ways to see your name in print, and one of them is by writing what I call “other peoples’ books.”

I have been making my living as a writer for nearly seven years. Of the forty books I’ve written,
only a handful bear my real name. Primarily, these are work-for-hire titles—books for which I’m paid a flat fee. I don’t own the copyright or collect a royalty.

I was shopping around my first novel when an editor who liked my work took a job at a children’s television network. When they needed a writer for a new book series, I “auditioned” for the role. I studied the company’s “bible” of character descriptions, setting, and basic storylines, wrote three chapters, and crossed my fingers.

I got the gig and quit my job with a contract to write one book, and an option to write three more. Unfortunately, the company lost interest in the series even before I finished the first book, but that was the beginning of my new career. I contacted editors and sent my resume to anyone I thought could help. I studied Publishers Weekly, Children’s Writer, and the SCBWI Bulletin looking for leads.

I billed myself as the writer of the first book in an exciting new series from the television company and hoped no one would ask about the book’s chances for publication.


With persistence and much follow up—I sent e-mails to editors every six to eight weeks—I
eventually landed jobs. The first was an assignment to write two friendship quiz books for the Scholastic Book Clubs. The second was from a different Scholastic division for nonfiction titles based on History Channel programming.

I used those titles to generate other assignments. I wrote three more nonfiction titles for Scholastic over the next year. When I read they had licensed the book rights to a number Nickelodeon TV shows, I lobbied for more. I eventually wrote fourteen media tie-in novels for the company.

I updated my resume with each title, and constantly networked to make new contacts and stayed in touch with old ones. I sent my friendship quiz books to American Girl, which led to The Family Quiz Book. Sterling Publishing hired me to write for their biography series on the basis on my History Channel titles, and my media tie-in novels led to Hannah Montana assignments from Disney.

• Have a resume ready to go
• Play up your strengths
• Network
• Say ‘yes’ to projects that will help further your career
• Deliver what you promised and meet your deadlines

Laurie Calkhoven is part of our faculty at the June conference. She is contract 4 different workshops and is doing one-on-one critiques.
Talk tomorrow,



  1. Kathy, I’m loving that you decided to continue posting Sprouts articles. It’s nice to see them again, and they’re a true testament of the kind of quality product our Chapter’s magazine was. I hope you keep posting the articles for that reason, but even more so—-with the conference coming up so soon, it’ll save you work and time, too!

    It’s a happy reminder that, in the years since you became the SCBWI New Jersey Chapter’s Regional Advisor, our members have benefited tremendously from your creative leadership, and have had top-quality experiences at our events. Your knowledge and experience, coupled with your desire to afford all our members the very best opportunities for bettering our skills and networking with industry professionals, is truly invaluable.


  2. Thanks for posting, Kathy! Hmmm…. I’m SO wanting to quit being a lawyer to become a freelance writer now.


    • LOL Erin, I”m so with you on that. I would rather be a writer than ANY other vocation! 🙂


  3. Another good non-fiction articles with tips! Thanks for posting again Kathy. I’m so excited for the non-fiction track of the conference.


  4. Great article from a great writer! Can’t wait to see Laurie at this year’s conference — I’m signed up for a couple of her workshops and I can assure you that anyone who has her for a critique will be receiving lots of terrific advice. Thanks for posting, Kathy!


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