At a Christian trade show recently I asked representatives of several publishers about tween novels to review for my homeschool audience. Generally the reaction was “We have this curriculum or this journal.” I was looking for novels, not curriculum.
This reinforced that many in the publishing world think homeschoolers only want “teaching” material. They have trouble breaking into the market because they don’t know it.
My sons loved Lee Roddy’s http://www.leeroddybooks.com/index.htm books. Hank the Cowdog http://www.hankthecowdog.com/ by John R. Erickson is another favorite of homeschoolers. Neither series is written specifically for homeschoolers, but are enjoyed because the stories are fun and well written.
Like Roddy and Erickson, you can break into the homeschool market. Here’s how:
Step 1 – Know the market.
You can read all the statistics about an average homeschooler. It’s far better, though, if you get to them yourself. Read the homeschool websites, attend homeschool events open to the public, and, with permission, follow homeschool social media groups.
Step 2 – Write well.
Just like anyone else, homeschoolers want well-written books. The story is the key.
Step 3 – Don’t make assumptions.
Don’t assume only homeschoolers can write for homeschoolers. Lee Roddy and John R. Erickson aren’t homeschool dads.
Don’t assume that homeschooling is school at home. Often it is vastly different from traditional schools.
Don’t assume you need to have a specific type of character or specific message. Just write a good story.
Three questions are commonly asked when I teach at conferences.
- Do you market to parents or kids?
Max Elliot Anderson markets his books to parents for boys who are reluctant readers. Lee Roddy talks with boys at conferences to share his stories. Use the same marketing techniques you use for the general market.
- Is there more of a need for non-fiction or fiction?
In an informal survey, I found homeschool parents are looking for everything from fantasy to finances. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.
- Should I include a study guide?
If you want to. Some authors offer a study guide, lesson plans, or coloring pages as a free bonus for purchase.
You too can break into the homeschool market with standard marketing techniques: Know the market, write well, and don’t make assumptions. The next time I ask publishers for Christian tween novels to share with my homeschool readers, maybe it will be yours.
Susan K. Stewart - When she’s not tending chickens and peacocks, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost? and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. You can learn more at her website www.practicalinspirations.com.