Getting published in a children’s magazine is difficult, but not impossible. Though you may get paid for your work, it’s not likely to be a huge amount. That’s the bad news, but stay with me here, folks. The cool part is that you will be able to say that you are a published writer and you will get to see your work in print! You’ll also have something quite impressive to add to your resume, which can ultimately help you in getting a literary agent and/or getting the attention of a publisher for your book. Plus, you’ll have something to brag about at parties and you can even hand out copies of the magazine on Halloween to all the neighborhood children. Won’t they be delighted!
The most important piece of advice for when you’re trying to get published in a magazine is to be sure you’ve read the submission guidelines very carefully. Nothing annoys editors more than writers who submit work that’s inappropriate for their magazine. Except maybe papercuts. That might annoy editors even more. The point is, you’ll need to tailor your writing very specifically to the magazine’s audience and focus. Pay close attention to the target age group of the magazine as well as the general tone and subject matter. A few magazines may focus exclusively on fiction stories, while many have a nonfiction slant based on world cultures, nature, science, history, and so forth. Though you may be a fiction writer in general, nonfiction articles in most magazines greatly outnumber fiction so you may want to keep that under consideration when planning your submissions. Just sayin….
Before submitting to a publication, make sure you’ve actually read the magazine. You can write to request a sample copy or see if it’s available in the library or bookstore. They also may have some information and sample articles on their website. It’s important to review as many past issues as you can to make sure they haven’t recently covered the topic you’d like to write about. Be sure to target your submission so that it jives with the magazine’s overall mission. For example, the focus might be on keeping kids fit and healthy, so your story or nonfiction article will need to reflect and reinforce that mission. Don’t write about how much fun junk food is when submitting to a pro-health magazine. THAT will annoy editors more than papercuts…
There are a great number of magazines out there and it can be quite overwhelming to review them all. The best place to start is to narrow your focus to just a few magazines that publish the type of material you’re interested in writing. It might be helpful to purchase the latest edition of Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers. I have also compiled a children’s magazine list, complete with the magazine’s general focus, target audience, and a link to their submission guidelines. That list took me forever. You’re welcome…Anyway, if you narrow your focus to just a few of these magazines, you can really familiarize yourself with exactly what those magazines publish and you can increase your chances of creating an article that the editors simply must have for their magazine.
It’s important to come up with an idea that is both interesting and specific. Don’t just write an article about the Titanic, write an article about children on the Titanic or what kind of dessert they served. Something entertaining that hasn’t been done a millions times before.
Don’t talk down to the kids, whatever you do. Children’s magazine editors have tremendous respect for their audience and so should you. Also, don’t preach. You know, like I’m preaching to you right now? It’s fine when I do it. You’re not allowed to – at least not when writing for children.
Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, it is vital to conduct comprehensive research on your subject using both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources may include interviews, original documents, professional research, and so forth. Secondary sources may include books, articles, museums, science centers, and other sources that do not stem directly from an expert in the field. Though your bibliography will likely not be included in the actual print of the article that may be published, you’ll need to document your sources and send the information with your query and/or manuscript submission. The more good sources, the better. Wikipedia’s not gonna cut it, people.
Depending upon the individual magazine’s submission requirements, you may be required to submit a query, an outline, and/or the entire completed manuscript. If you need to send an outline, make sure it contains detailed facts, statements, resources, and it should cover the whole proposed article from beginning to end. Be sure to adhere to the stated word count limit. Staying on the lower end of the word count may be preferable, depending on the editor. Fewer words are cheaper – for the magazine. If you get paid by the word, don’t try to you know kind of intentionally and on totally on purpose stretch out the word count for as long as you humanly possibly can if you kind of know what I mean and totally get my drift. Editors, like teachers, are on to that trick….
Be sure to do your homework, kids. This article is like the Cliff’s Notes of getting published in a magazine. The next step is to read up on the actual magazines and maybe purchase (or get from the library) the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and/or the Magazine Markers for Children’s Writers. You can also join the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators.
Now come up with a cool idea. Research the hell out of that cool idea. Go get published and thank me when you’re famous.
My extensively researched and really time-consuming Magazine List I developed JUST FOR YOU.
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