Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Writing for Children's Magazines, Part 2: Some Submission Nuts & Bolts -- by Christy Mihaly






Are you considering writing for children’s magazines? Here are some submission basics.  (For the first part of this post, go to Part 1.)

Your Market

Kids’ magazines need lots of lively writing. If you write quality material that appeals to children, you can find a magazine to publish it -- the trick is finding the right one for you.

My market research started with Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers, from the Institute of Children’s Literature: http://www.writersbookstore.com/Books_on_Writing_for_Children.htm

    Another great resource is author-editor Evelyn Christensen’s e-zine, Writing for Children’s Magazines. For her alphabetical listings of magazines with links to their websites, go to: http://evelynchristensen.com/mags.html. Thank you Evelyn! 

     To keep abreast of changes in the market, the monthly subscription newsletter Children’s Writer is also helpful.  Its Marketplace section includes updates on magazines’ needs. (www.childrenswriter.com).

Get a sense of a magazine’s individual style by reading it. Browse online samples. Look in your library for back issues, or buy some samples. Don’t skip this step – you must understand your target magazine’s tone and character.  (Editors recommend reading at least 12 issues before submitting to a magazine.)

Review the magazine’s website -- carefully -- for the target age of readers, submission guidelines, and other requirements. Some magazines accept submissions only by e-mail; others only by U.S. mail. For articles, a magazine may want a bibliography, copies of sources, photo releases, etc.  Check and re-check.

Where to Submit?               

Do you want to submit on spec, send a query, or write to a theme?  There are magazines out there for all these preferences.

The largest, Highlights for Children, circulation about two million, doesn’t use themes. Other general interest children’s magazines are the Fun for Kidz publications (Hopscotch for Girls, Boys’ Quest, and Fun for Kidz), which are themed, and the U.S. Kids magazines (Jack & Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Turtle), which aren’t.

The magazines in the Carus/Cobblestone group (the “bug” magazines – Spider, Cricket, Ladybug, etc. – along with AppleSeeds, Calliope, Odyssey and several others), are highly respected and often used in classrooms. Some of these are themed, others not. 

Specialized magazines include National Geographic Kids, Boys’ Life (a Boy Scouts publication),Sports Illustrated for Kids, Pockets (devotional magazine used in Sunday Schools), and Skipping Stones (multi-cultural).

     There are hundreds more. Explore e-magazines and regional magazines.  And if you have a particular interest or expertise, from horses to skateboarding to archeology, look for a kids' magazine in that field. 

What about themes?

Some magazine themes are substantive and specific (I had an article in a 2012 AppleSeeds issue about “Who Did What in the Age of Exploration”); others, not so much (a current Hopscotch theme is “Unique and Unusual”). 

I prefer themes, because they tell me what the magazine wants.  An announced theme often gets my mental wheels turning.  And I really like that if a magazine accepts a piece for a themed issue, I know it will be published on the date that specific issue comes out, rather than sitting in a file drawer for months or years.

You'll find theme lists on individual magazines' websites.  In addition, children's author and educational writer Liana Mahoney has compiled and posted a list of magazine and anthology themes, which she regularly updates.  Thanks, Liana!  See her website at:  http://www.lianamahoney.com/8.html

One more thing about themes: more than once, I’ve been surprised to learn that an article I submitted for an announced theme was accepted . . . but that it would appear in a different issue, with a newly announced theme that fit my piece to a “T.” So – anything can happen!

Manuscript or Query?

     With fiction, you have to submit the complete manuscript.  For nonfiction, requirements vary.  Some magazines (e.g., Pockets, Hopscotch, Spider) generally require manuscripts.  Some accept either manuscripts or queries (e.g., Boys’ Life).  Others (like many in the Carus/Cobblestone group) accept only queries. 




I love queries!  Although a query requires substantial research and thought, and you have to follow the magazine's guidelines, it’s never as much work as writing a complete article.  Then if the magazine accepts your proposal, you’ll have a clear assignment (including focus of your article, tentative title, and word limit). When you write the article, you’ll know it’s just what the editor is looking for. 


I hope this helps you find the right magazine home for your writing. Of course . . . if you already have a polished manuscript, and your research indicates it’s a good fit for a particular magazine – then send it out! Good luck with it, and let me know how it goes!









43 comments:

  1. thanks so much for this information. I have been considering articles as a further outlet for writing and for a source of income. Great links and suggestions. Thank You.

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    1. Hi Celia -- I'm glad to know it's helpful. I hope you have fun with magazine articles. I found that once I started, everywhere I looked I found new ideas for articles. As I mentioned in Part 1, however, you can't count on a lot of income from this!

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  2. LOVELY post! Great colorful artwork, too.
    Some day I will crack Highlights with a rebus or short story. Several of my regular facetime crit. group have moved ahead of me to publis with Highlights & it's a great experience. We celebrate each story, rebus, etc.
    This is a well-organized go-to post & I can't wait to share it with my group & others.

    Also, who is the cute editor sitting on top of the magazine group?

    Finally, this is the first GROG post that came up in my automatic feedburner-fueled subscription, so I will always, always remember it.
    Brava! Christy & thank you.
    Can't wait for your next post. And your next Highlights/Cricket/ etc piece. I hope you'll remember to post about it?

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    1. BIG typo above -
      ahead of me to PUBLISH ... embarrassment over my hurry & not catching that...

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    2. Hi Jan! Thanks so much. My editor is named Cheddar -- isn't she a sweetie? I appreciate your support, and I'm glad feedburner is working for GROG now!

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    3. Hi there Cheddar! You have a great name. And a dynamite professional pix.

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  3. Hey, you did it! Love the pooch. Now you can help me later in April. Maybe mine will have my cat in it. Great article.

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    1. Yes, who needs to search for Internet images, when we have our own gorgeous animals right under our desks? Thanks for your comment -- it means a lot coming from a writer who has sold to HIGHLIGHTS.

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  4. Hey, where's the caption for your pooch? LOL! Great info, especially about the themed issues...plus thanks for those helpful links!

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    1. It's Cheddar, the Eager Editor. :)

      Glad you liked it and good luck with your submissions!

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    2. Give Cheddar the Eager Editor hugs from me and my gang!

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    3. Yes, I love your photos with your two pooches also! Cheddar is enjoying her newfound celebrity and already working on new ideas for future posts.

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  5. Thanks for this post. In the past, I've written for magazines, but turned away to focus on getting a picture book published. This makes me rethink my straight lined focus and encourages me to take more than one path at a time. Thanks again!

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    1. Hi Mona,
      I like doing several projects at once, to keep things fresh . . . but then the challenge is staying focused on one project sufficiently to complete it! Sometimes I feel like I get sidetracked . . . but if a query results in a project, it seems worth it! Good luck with all you're doing.

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  6. Having to wrote on a particular theme always sparks my imagination as well. Thanks for a fun post!

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    1. Yes -- I particularly like when an unfamiliar topic grabs you, and you end up writing a great piece about something you'd never have expected.

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  7. Chris, Sound advice for those of us just contemplating this road. TY

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  8. Thanks Chris for a great post. I agree with your thought that a tightly worded query helps keep your article focused. I hope to break into children's magazines soon. Your "editor" Cheddar made an elegant addition to your photo!

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  9. Very helpful post and right on the money. Thanks.

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  10. Great round-up of information, Christy! I hadn't seen Evelyn Christensen's e-zine. I will definitely add that to my magazine writing resources.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Hi Pat -- There are so many people out there, sharing their experiences and the fruits of their efforts. The generosity of folks in the world of children's writing continues to impress me. Glad to help! (Just correcting typo in initial comment.)

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  11. I've never submitted to a magazine yet. Always scared I'd lose my chance of having that story into a picture book. thanks so much, Christy!

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    1. Yes, I understand that. But sometimes one of your manuscripts might work better as a magazine (or anthology) story than a PB . . . And in some cases you might be able to publish first as a story, and reserve your rights to publish later in a different form . . . Just things to think about -- it helps me not feel so stuck.

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  12. Just read Part I and Part II has really got me thinking about this. Now to deliver a fresh new perspective to my magazine of choice. This was great.

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    1. Yup -- fresh perspective, that's the key! I hope you have fun with it.

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  13. Great posting of so many resources! I love the pic w/your dog and the magazines!

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    1. Thank you Tina. Cheddar is enjoying the comments she has received, and I'm contemplating making her a regular GROGger!

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  14. Outstanding information with many great resources. Give Cheddar and extra treat from me.

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  15. This is all very helpful. I used to have a regular feature that I wrote for a monthly magazine, but it was a parenting magazine, not a kids' magazine, and I really just lucked into the post. The magazine was a new one and the editor approached me to write for them. I realize, if course, that this is not the way it normally works! lol!

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  16. Becky -- But it never works the way it's supposed to -- just enjoy it! Parenting magazines are a great option. I did an essay for my local parenting monthly -- it was one of the best experiences I've had working with an editor to revise and perfect my piece. (And they paid promptly.)

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  17. Appreciate the information on magazines. I have been wanting to attempt this but found the information pretty daunting. This helps.

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  18. Thank you for all this information. I have been shying away from magazine writing, but I realize some of my manuscripts will never be picture books. So maybe they could be magazine articles instead.

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    1. See, that's the thing, why not take a story (that isn't flying as a picture book) and seeing if you can get it published (and illustrated) in a beautiful children's magazine that lots of kids will read? Might be worth a try . . . .

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  19. A great article, Christy! Thank you for linking to my site. I hope it'll be helpful to lots of your readers. Ev

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  20. Ev, I'm so glad you like it, and thanks for supporting our GROG!

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  21. Great tips again. Thanks so much!

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    1. Glad you found the post. But don't forget, you'll need to check magazine websites for updated information . . . . and good luck with submitting!

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