Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bonnie Bader: Nonfiction

For many years Bonnie Bader worked as an Associate Publisher of Frederick Warne & Co., as well as the editor-in-chief of Penguin Young Readers/Early Readers. Today she is a member of the SCBWI Board of Advisors, and the PAW (Published and Listed) point person. 

When she first started in publishing, Bader said that she hated nonfiction. What changed her mind? The narrative voice.

In her session today, Bader spoke about what publishers are doing and what sellers are saying. She also offered tips for authors seeking to write nonfiction. It was a lively interactive session, with high audience participation. 

Here are a few bullet points:

• What sells? Nonfiction pegged to a holiday: First Thanksgiving

• Smaller publishers do well with nonfiction. They tend to have more people designated to target the school library market. 

• Bookstores have seen an uptick in nonfiction sales: biography, weird-but-true stories (Ripley's Believe It or Not!)
Who Was? nonfiction books are hot sellers,
selling more than 20 million copies to date.

• Write about tension in a character's life. 

• Develop your voice.

• Always offer sources for dialog. 

• Write grabby first lines.

• Decide who your audience is. Who are you writing for?

• Pick your subject, explore your own interests. What excites you? What are you passionate about?

• Research, research, research!


  1. Thanks for posting. Wish I could have been there in person!

  2. I am not there but am following tweets from there. And I'm glad for the blog, too.

    With her example of books about the "First Thanksgiving," I imagine all the writers/aspiring writers in the room making a note of that remark. What will it lead to? More books of that master narrative type? With smiling Indians?

  3. It would be helpful if presenters would cite examples of books that represent the best in a category. That includes making sure the books cited are not just popular but also culturally sound.