Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 29, 2015

Work For Hire Journey: A Bee Book Update

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here with

A Bee Book Update

I am proud to say that my book on bees is officially off to the publishing ring. Estimated release: spring of 2016!!

It’s been a very interesting experience, for sure. Exciting, frustrating, the works. Some of you may remember my post Successes and Hurdles, (name says it all).

Now that the book has moved out of my hands for now, I thought I’d give a little insight on things to expect if you ever write for a book packaging company/educational series.

I can’t speak for all companies or all experiences of course. But this was mine.

Background: This is work for pay. There are no royalties and I will not OWN the work. I wrote the book. They paid me. In this particular contract I will be displayed as the author (umm… YAY!). But all contracts are different.

Top Three Things To Expect

1) Little upfront information.

Basically, I was told, we want you to write a book on bees as bioindicators. Then I was given lots of formal information about how long, formatting, voice, chapter breakdown, side bars etc. But not much information on what they were looking for in the MEAT of the actual book.

I took this to mean I had lots of flexibility!!

I was wrong.

My first draft came back basically saying “Nope. Actually, we’re looking for something else”.

This was a real hurdle for me as you may remember. In retrospect, I would have spent far less time on the first draft, and maybe pushed for feedback on exactly what their vision was.

2) Lots of revisions!

There were a few official deliverables, and of course I received notes and was asked for revisions on them. But outside of that, there were multiple other times I was asked for revisions, and sometimes they needed it back within a few days!

Oh, and be ready to line up and massacre those sweet little darlings.

Educational series like this is not the place for overly personal voice. It needs to be professional and informative while still engaging the reader.


I honestly spent just as much time (or more!) researching as I did writing. These books are FULL of information. I mean, CHUCK full. I couldn’t believe how much detail they wanted for a 4500-word book for 4th graders.

I read books. I watched movies. I talked to hobbyists and professionals. I went to meetings. I interviewed state workers.

And yes… I got stung.  (right between the eyes actually! LOL)

Any issue that was presented in the book, I talked to people and researched BOTH sides. It was incredibly important to me to paint a balanced picture. One that presents the information and helps the readers develop their own thoughts, instead of telling them what those thoughts should be.

That leads me to my biggest tip for anyone thinking of writing for the educational series market:


I was lucky. Getting bees was actually something my husband and I had been talking about for months. It was a topic I am extremely interested in.

Honestly, right now, if the company contacted me and asked me to write a book on a topic I have little interest in, my answer would be no. I would say that I’m not the right person to write the book, and I wouldn’t be able to do it justice.

And that would be hard. A part of my brain would scream, WHAT?!!! You’re turning down the opportunity to write a book, a PUBLISHSED BOOK??!!!

But it would be the right call.

All in all, I had a great experience. I hope I have the opportunity to do it again, taking with me everything I learned.

And man… bees are even more interesting than I had originally thought!

I will continue to keep you posted on the goings on from here.

I love hearing other people’s stories and getting to learn what they learned. Shared knowledge is gained knowledge and I am grateful to all of you for being a part of my journey, because whatever it takes…

… our manuscripts are worth it!


Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Erika, Thank you for another great post and thanks for sharing your journey with your book. We all enjoy your posts.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congrats Erika!


  2. So interesting! Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Erika!


  3. Thanks for a summary of your “work for hire” experience Erica. Wasn’t sure of all that is involved in saying “yes” to such a job. Congratulations of your bookl! would love to feature you on my blog when you get ready to do a “book tour”.


  4. Thanks for sharing your journey writing this book. Sounds really interesting 🙂


  5. Thanks for sharing this story, Erika. It really is great of you to share this and give an insight into this particular writing experience. Congratulations on getting it done.


  6. Dear Erica. Congrats. Having been a beekeeper for many years, I know how amazing these little creatures are, and how they have nurse bees and bees who attend to the queen only, etc, etc, and bees who dance to show other bees in the hive where to get the next pollen or nectar, an amazing array of facts to share with young children. Good for you! I have written a YA novel with an old beekeeper in it who imparts info to the protagonist. So much info., I had to curb my “teaching” self! Ha.


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