How to Land High-Paying Freelance Contracts Writing for Textbook Publishers! – by John Riddle

How to Land High-Paying Freelance Contracts Writing for Textbook Publishers! – by John Riddle

When freelance writers think about writing for publishers, they generally focus on book projects they create and submit, or finding work for hire book projects that are available. And while both of those options are always available, and if done correctly, can pay very well, there is another option if you are interested in making money writing for publishers.

I discovered the wonderful world of writing for textbook publishers nearly two decades ago. The Internet as we know it today was still in the early stages of being developed and, back then, it wasn’t uncommon for big textbook publishers to place ads for freelance writers to help on just about every topic from A to Z. I was hired by Macmillian to write a few chapters of a history book and a few months later, they contacted me to see if I was interested in more work. 

Fast forward to 2018 and, although very few of the big textbook publishers now find the need to place ads, they still use a large group of freelance writers, editors, subject matter experts and proofreaders. (Check out their websites. Most will have a list of current projects and needs posted.)

Here is an example of a regional educational publisher who recently placed an ad for freelance help. I found the ad by going to Google and searching for “education writers wanted” –

Company: Green Comma
Job Title: U.S. History Writers


We are looking for EXPERIENCED ONLY US history school market writers. 3-4 writers to write student workbook pages for a Grade 8 U.S History workbook (Colonies to Reconstruction) for TN. Total pages are 160. New pages approx. 60% (100pp) but will be able to pick up and modify some pages from already existing GA or VA workbooks, 40% (60pp)…

The ad went on from there with additional information applicants would need. And, they offered $40 per page.

Textbook publishers will pay big bucks for professors, subject matter experts, etc. to create chapters, and sometimes even the entire book. However, in around 50% of those cases, most of the material is “too raw” to use and they end up hiring qualified freelance writers to rewrite and edit the pages into the final product.

There are several associations you should check out, including:

1. Textbook and Academic Authors Association

Look at the listing for the “author guidelines,” and send an e-mail to one of the editors and ask about
freelance opportunities that are available.

2. Association of University Presses

There, you will find a directory of 140 University publishing companies. Search through the ones that are of interest to your subject matter, and find an e-mail address for the appropriate editor.

3. Publishing Professionals Network

At this nonprofit association, you will find lists of both publishers and other outside book-related associations. Check each link very carefully to see if there is something of interest to you. Then, find an e-mail address for that firm’s editor.

As a professional freelance writer, you should always be open to new and creative opportunities, and writing for textbook publishers should be high on your list!



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John Riddle is a freelance writer, author, and ghostwriter from Bear, Delaware. His byline has appeared in major newspapers, magazines, websites and trade journals all across the country. He is the author of 34 books, including a few health and medical titles, and has worked as a ghostwriter on numerous projects. John is also the Founder of I Love To Write Day, a grassroots campaign he launched in 2002 to have people of all ages practice writing every November 15. Last year over 25,000 schools all across the United States held special I Love To Write Day events and activities. He is a frequent speaker at both Christian and secular writing conferences, and recently appeared at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. You can obtain a quote for John’s ghostwriting services here:

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One Response to "How to Land High-Paying Freelance Contracts Writing for Textbook Publishers! – by John Riddle"

  1. Greg Goodmacher  February 21, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    I have written six EFL textbooks for college students in Japan. Once you understand the format and develop relationships with editors, getting published is not so difficult. My suggestion is to attend teaching conferences that have many publishing companies present. Most of them will have editors present. You can speak directly with them about their needs and show examples of your work. Good luck.