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Nonfiction Picture Books: Will They Sell?
The Rise of Nonfiction Picture Books
You want to write and publish picture books for kids. Should you concentrate on fiction or nonfiction?
Increasingly, the answer is nonfiction.
NCTE Position Statement on Nonfiction
Nonfiction has been on the rise for a decade or more, but it’s just gotten a boost from the NCTE (US National Council of Teachers of English) with a January 19, 2023 new position statement. The introduction states:
Nonfiction empowers young people in the face of current and emerging challenges locally and globally, such as racial, cultural, social, and economic injustice, censorship and disinformation, and the climate crisis. In the urgency of this moment, nonfiction for young people has never been more vibrant or vital.
Basically, the statement says that nonfiction for kids (K-12) is under-represented and under-utilized. They recommend that nonfiction take a greater role in the classroom in instruction, teaching reading, teaching writing, and for both informational and visual literacies.
This means children’s and school librarians should be looking for more titles in the years to come. Nonfiction picture books will have their moment!
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Indie Publishing Nonfiction Picture Books
Can indie publisher expect such titles to sell?
In fact, my strongest sales are for my nonfiction picture books. I have a couple series that do well:
Another Extraordinary Animal - an introduction to the animal kingdom through biographies of individual animals. It includes a bird, spider, mammal, amphibian, and reptile.
Moments in Science - This eight-book series feature moments when something changed in science. The first four books are translated into Chinese, and the first six are translated into Korean.
Read and Write series - These four books walk the line between fiction and nonfiction, but they are classified as nonfiction. They teach kids to write opinion, narrative, and informative essays.
For these type books, one of the most important parts of the publishing problems is the copyediting. You need a copyeditor who will also do fact checking, or else hire someone to do fact checking. Be sure to document everything. Dates, names, places, and facts must be accurate!
Tie Nonfiction Books to the Curriculum
When I publish a nonfiction picture book, I first research the appropriate curriculum guides. These are for US classrooms:
Look for other standards as needed: art and art history, library science, physical education, and etc.
Study state standards, also, as they may vary slightly from the national standards. For example, if you write a historical book set in California, it would be wise to look up the California History/Social Studies standards and make sure your book meets them.
In other words, I try to write a book that teachers NEED in their classroom to adequately teach a subject. I don’t want them to just LIKE my books. Instead, I work to fill a NEED, which is a stronger marketing position.
Learn to Write Nonfiction Picture Books
This is a timely post because for the month of February, NFFest.com is posting weekdays about writing nonfiction. Each post will feature ideas, strategies, and successes in writing nonfiction for kids. Here’s the post for February 1, 2023: Writing a Rhyming Nonfiction Picture Book: A Game of Jenga™
It’s a great month to think about writing nonfiction picture books!