The main difference I have found between writing educational resources and writing fiction is you sell the educational resources before you write the book. I have found it is much more of a group effort than writing a novel, with input at each stage of the books development.
Finding a new subject, or even better a new slant on an old subject is half the battle. I started out as a teacher and have found this background in education beneficial as I can match my work to the National Curriculum, as well as the Literacy and Numeracy Strategies. I have studied most subjects in depth and know what is required in a classroom situation.
When I use to tell people I was a teacher, the first thing they use to ask is what do you teach. I usually said, "Children." But, then I felt guilty I was being so flippant and told them, "As a Primary School teacher you name it and I teach it." Now I say, "As a writer you name it and I'll write it." This is very true. I love research and so if I don't know anything on a subject I will spend time finding out about it.
I prefer it when the publisher rings me up, or emails me, and says we've got an idea for a project would you like to submit a proposal to be one of the authors. This really gets me to focus.
Before I submit a proposal, whether it has been asked for or is unsolicited, I look for a gap in the market. I always check out Amazon and see if there is a book on the subject already and if there is how could I approach it from a new angle that would be relevant to the classroom today. If I do find a gap, I think why is it there? Is there a demand for the subject? And what would be another books 'unique selling point'.
As in all forms of writing, it is important to study the market. I have been fairly successful with writing educational resources. I wrote and had accepted five books last year, 2005. I have to keep reminding myself that was very good.
I suppose part of the process is, feeling the fear and doing it anyway, just like Susan Jeffers books says. Also, keeping in mind we can achieve anything if we really put our minds to it. I remember when I passed my Bronze Medallion (Life Saver's swimming certificate) in 1994. I was asked to take over training the top swimmers for the Reading gala after the previous teacher that did it died of a brain tumour. To do this I needed to have a Life Savers certificate. I saw this as a challenge and enrolled on the RLSS Bronze Medallion course.
When I started I could not even swim one length of the 25m pool. After the twelve week course I could swim 20 lengths in under 20 minutes and fetch a body from the bottom of the pool, fully clothed. To achieve this I had to go swimming at least three times a week, sometimes more. I was still on maternity leave and so had the time to do it but, my stomach muscles were very weak and I could not pull myself out of the pool when I started, I had to use the steps.
I got the highest marks in the group on the theory exam. But, it was sheer determination that got me through. And you know what we went home with the relay trophy every single year, until I moved schools and stopped doing the job.