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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Educational Publishing: Steady Work for Career Writers

This article was originally published in Children’s Book Writer. Publishing professionals mentioned may have changed jobs, so please do your research before submitting any work.

When people first dream of writing for children, they typically imagine crafting original novels or picture books. However, few authors can sell enough original work – or earn large enough advances – to support themselves. Many writers who make a living from writing supplement their own projects with writing for hire.

For writers, the term “work for hire” (WFH) usually means freelance work done as an independent contractor. Most WFH pays a flat fee, although some publishers pay royalties. Payment can range from a few dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the project.

A contract is necessary to clarify the legal status of the work, including who holds the copyright – usually the employer. A written agreement also clarifies other terms. “Make sure your fee is clear and ask ahead of time about how soon you’ll be paid,” advises Shirley Duke, the author of many nonfiction books. In addition, “Get a contract and check out the publisher or packager to make sure they are reputable. Ask [your colleagues] if anyone has worked for them before.” These precautions ensure a satisfying experience for everyone.

Books for Teaching Kids

Educational publishing provides many WFH opportunities for children’s book writers. These books are frequently nonfiction, are often designed for classroom use, and are targeted at specific reading levels. For example, ABDO has three divisions: ABDO Publishing produces nonfiction for grades PreK-12; Magic Wagon produces fiction and nonfiction for grades PreK-8 and includes picture books, beginning readers, graphic novels, and chapter books; Spotlight licenses popular fiction.

Magic Wagon accepts original manuscripts from authors. Stephanie Hedlund, Editorial Director of Magic Wagon and Spotlight, says, “As a series publisher, we want to see an outline of how a submission can be a series of four to six titles.”

Only about 5% of authors are hired through original submissions, however; most ABDO books are developed in-house. “We accept author resumes and review them for work-for-hire assignments,” Hedlund says. “We are always looking to add graphic novel authors and illustrators to our author stable.”

Many educational projects are produced through book packagers. Bob Temple, President of Red Line Editorial, Inc., explains, “The lion’s share of the projects that we handle are complete, beginning-to-end book development projects for educational publishers. We work with publishers to develop ideas, then produce the books using our in-house staff and freelancers, including all editorial and design work.” 

Book packagers use many freelance authors. “We have a large database of authors who have worked for us in the past, or have been recommended to us, or have sent us their information,” Temple says. “When we have a new project, we search for authors who have experience in the subject matter, reading level, writing style, etc., that the project calls for.”

In this internet era, WFH jobs can come from anywhere in the world. Bender Richardson White is based in the UK but works with American and Canadian publishers. Editorial Director Lionel Bender says the company handles, “Both single titles and series of highly illustrated nonfiction for children grades 2 upward, mostly for the schools and library market but also some trade books.”

Fiction writers can also find opportunities. Alyson Heller, Associate Editor, Aladdin Books/Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, says, “Our work-for-hire projects are mainly with chapter-book and middle-grade works, particularly with our series publishing. We also do some in-house developed original stand-alone titles (also known as IP), and we use work-for-hire writers for those, too.”

Special Skills

While educational publishing can provide steady work, writers must develop specific skills in order to be successful. Classroom nonfiction requires detailed research, often with every fact footnoted. Writers may be required to provide an index, image captions, and extensive back matter, such as a timeline, glossary, additional resources, and more. Some publishers even ask the writers to do photo research.

Writers must also understand reading levels and be able to target them. “The ability to take sometimes difficult concepts and write them at the proper reading level is very important,” Temple says. “The ability to meet deadlines is crucial, as is the ability to communicate well with our staff. Another key skill is the ability to research a topic thoroughly. Also, our deadlines are generally tight, so the ability to do all this with some speed is helpful, too!”

“I’m looking for authors with huge imaginations who write quickly and consistently,” Hedlund says. “My favorite authors to work with understand writing for children and are able to get creative but keep the vocabulary, tone, and content for our young readers.” 

To work with Bender Richardson White, authors need to accept a detailed brief and follow it closely. Bender also offers a reminder: “You are part of a team, along with the designer, editor, picture researcher, which sometimes means being flexible and compromising.”

Compass Publishing produces educational materials for students learning English as a second or foreign language. These books offer additional challenges, such as writing from a limited vocabulary word list. Senior Editor Casey Malarcher says they like to see writers with, “EFL/ESL teaching experience, experience in writing educational materials, and familiarity with current practices and trends in EFL/ESL instruction.”

Because these books are used in classrooms in Asia, the Middle East, and South America, in addition to multi-cultural classrooms in the U.S., Compass looks for certain kinds of writers, Malarcher explains: “Writers who can envision how their materials are actually applied in classroom settings where both teachers and students may need extensive support and guidance, and writers who are sensitive to cultural aspects of both their work and classroom settings where their work may be used.”

Stop by next Wednesday for more advice on getting started in educational publishing– or subscribe to get posts automatically and never miss a post. You can use the Subscribe or Follow by E-Mail buttons to the right, or add http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/ to Feedly or another reader.


Chris Eboch is the author of You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Order for Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback.


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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Writing Nonfiction Books for Children: Market Research

I’ve been talking about writing articles for children (click the “writing for magazines” link in the labels list), but what if you really want to write a nonfiction book? The following is excerpted and adapted from You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers.

Many beginning children’s book writers want to write picture books or novels; they find nonfiction intimidating. However, nonfiction can provide many opportunities, and often writers who try it discover that it can be fun and fascinating!

Writing nonfiction for children covers a broad range of styles, topics, lengths, and age ranges, in both books and magazines. Exploring what’s being published will help you decide where you feel comfortable.

In addition, if you want to write for publication, you’ll need a good understanding of what editors are buying. Even if you are writing purely for your own enjoyment, or to share your memories with your family, studying other children’s literature will make you a better writer. It may also inspire new ideas!

Hit the Library

Maybe you are already an avid reader of recent children’s nonfiction. If so, great! If not, it’s time to start. You’ll learn a lot and get to enjoy wonderful stories at the same time. The library is an excellent place to explore children’s lit, but make sure you look for recent books or magazines. Styles have changed over the years, so it’s best to focus on books published in the last five years.

Try keeping notes on what you read, if you don’t already. Did you enjoy the book? Why or why not? What aspects did you think worked well, and what could have been stronger? The patterns you pick up will tell you something about the children’s book industry, but they’ll tell you even more about yourself. Maybe you are attracted to humorous articles for younger kids. Or perhaps you love picture book biographies with poetic language. If you are going to write, why not write what you love to read?

If you want to write for publication, you can also start researching agents and publishers here. When you read books you love, or ones that seem similar to your work, make a note of the publisher. You may also be able to identify the author’s agent in the acknowledgments, or from the author’s website. This will help you learn which publishers are producing what type of books. When you have something appropriate to submit, you’ll have a list of agents or publishers that are suitable.

Book Markets

Are you most interested in picture books? There are important differences between a picture book and an article, so you need to know which you are really writing and all the elements a picture book needs!

To prepare to write a picture book, you might review several of your favorite books, or see what’s new at the library or bookstore. It wouldn’t hurt to check out some of those magazines as well. They’re still a good source for understanding the interests and reading abilities of children at different ages. Plus, you might try comparing some magazine stories and some picture books to see if you can identify the differences.

Briefly, picture books are usually under 1000 words, often under 500 words, although nonfiction picture books may be up to 2500 words or so. They should have at least 12 different scenes that can be illustrated. Look for similar books at the library or bookstore and see who publishes them.

You’ll also find nonfiction in Easy Reader books, which are designed to help kids learn to read. They use simple vocabularies and short sentences, appropriate to a particular reading level. They may be a few hundred words long or several thousand words, depending on the reading level. Often they have a few illustrations, maybe one per chapter. Some publishers specialize in this kind of work, while others do not produce these books at all. They may also be called early readers, early chapter books, beginning readers, and so forth. For more on this kind of book, see Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Beginning Readers and Chapter Books, by Nancy Sanders.

Educational nonfiction, typically aimed at the school market, covers all school ages up through high school. Topics are usually chosen by the publisher based on what schools need. If you are interested in this kind of writing, the process is a bit different – you’ll probably need to submit a resume and writing samples instead of a manuscript or proposal. Then the publisher will contact you when/if they have a project appropriate for your skills and interests. You can submit new material every year or two when you have an expanded resume or fresh writing samples. You can still identify these publishers and get a feel for their preferred style by browsing books in the library.

Think about how to organize your notes so they’ll be useful in the future. Should you keep a reading notebook, set up a spreadsheet, or use color-coded index cards? Find a system that works for you.

Market listings:

Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market

Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers

Book Markets for Children’s Writers

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) provides members with THE BOOK, which includes market surveys and directories for agents. The quarterly SCBWI Bulletin provides market updates.


Stop by next Wednesday for more advice on writing work for hire educational nonfiction – or subscribe to get posts automatically and never miss a post. You can use the Subscribe or Follow by E-Mail buttons to the right, or add http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/ to Feedly or another reader.

You can get the extended version of this essay, and a lot more, in You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Order for Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback.

Sign up for Chris’s Workshop Newsletter for classes and critique offers

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Writing for Magazines: Start Small and Focused

I’ve been talking about writing magazine nonfiction for young people (click the “writing for magazines” link in the labels list). This week covers advice on how to get started. The following is excerpted and adapted from You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers.

While new writers often aim for the best-known magazines, it’s easier to break in at smaller specialty or regional publications. Highlights for Children may be found in homes, libraries, and doctor’s offices across the country, but because it’s so well known, the editors receive about 800 manuscript submissions every month. That’s a lot of competition.

Meanwhile, the lesser-known classroom magazine Current Health Kids only receives one or two submissions each month. Magazines with a narrow and unusual focus may have a hard time getting enough material, so when they find a good writer, they want to build that relationship. You’ll find thousands of specialty magazines listed in market guides.

Even if your focus is writing for children, you might also consider writing for publications aimed at teachers, parents, librarians, or local families. Maybe a city or regional magazine would be interested in an article about a children’s museum or a great family vacation spot.

Or consider profiling local kids who are doing something interesting. Local or regional magazines can be open to newcomers. “I believe in giving new writers an opportunity to write for our publication,” says Susan M. Espinoza, Editor of enchantment. The magazine, published by the New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association, is targeted at adults but sometimes profiles local young people. “It spices up the writing, and a new writer may have a new story idea we have never come across before.”

Just be prepared to work hard to get that first job. “Research the publication ahead of time,” Espinoza suggests. “What is the magazine’s target audience and focus? As a new writer, establish a relationship with the editor. Meet the editor’s deadlines. Don’t hesitate to ask the editor for feedback.”

What Are Your Strengths?

Consider your own interests, talents, and experiences, as Bobi Martin did. “When my daughter became interested in Junior Showmanship, a special class for young people at dog shows, I saw an opportunity to write an article for Dog World Magazine. I did my research and sold the article, happy just to have made a sale.”

Then the editor asked her to cover two kennel club shows a year for the magazine, which led to doing related feature articles and eventually to six years of writing a regular column for Junior Handlers. “Write about topics that matter to you,” Martin advises. “You can always research for more information, but if you don’t care about your topic, that will show in your writing.”

Was she incredibly lucky? Yes and no. A good way to build a magazine career is to cultivate long-term relationships with a few magazines. After you make that first sale, the door is open a little wider. At the Cobblestone magazines, Lusted says, “If someone has written for us just once or twice, they generally follow the same query process as everyone else, although the editor will definitely look at them more favorably because they’ve already written for us. They might also be more willing to give some feedback on a query or tweak it a little.”

Get in and Stay in

As the relationship develops, it typically gets even easier to make a sale. “Their queries might be slightly less detailed, and they won’t need to send a writing sample,” Lusted says.

Most editors are delighted to find writers who will take on regular assignments. Espinoza says, “You get to know the writing style of the writer, and know what type of stories to assign the writer. A regular writer knows what enchantment is about, who the readers are, so he or she knows what types of stories to pitch. Regular writers also understand your deadlines. We build a relationship over time.”

That can turn into steady work. At Cobblestone, some writers query for nearly every issue, and the editors may even ask these regulars to fill empty slots. “They know these people write well and will deliver a quality product on time,” Lusted says, “and there aren’t any unexpected nasty surprises when someone’s actual article doesn’t live up to their query. I can think of five or six writers for each of our magazines who are published in almost every issue, and some have even ended up doing regular departments. However, to get to this point, a writer has to be willing to write on any topic that the editor gives them.”

To build a magazine career, the path is clear: find your passion, explore a niche, target specialty magazines, and develop long-term relationships with editors.

And if you still dream of being featured in a well-known magazine? You can submit work there as well. But looking at less competitive magazines can help you build your skills, get some writing credits, and maybe even earn a few dollars.


Stop by next Wednesday for advice on writing nonfiction books– or subscribe to get posts automatically and never miss a post. You can use the Subscribe or Follow by E-Mail buttons to the right, or add http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/ to Feedly or another reader.

You can get the extended version of this essay, and a lot more, in You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Order for Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback.

Sign up for Chris’s Workshop Newsletter for classes and critique offers

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Writing for Children: Analyze Magazines for Content and Style

I've been talking about writing articles for children (click the "nonfiction" link in the labels list). Today I'll go into more detail on analyzing magazines, so you can target your work properly. The following is excerpted and adapted from You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers.

You've discovered a magazine you'd like to write for, perhaps by browsing a market guide. The first step is to pick up a copy of the magazine, if you don't already have one. Fortunately, today many magazines have sample copies online, so you won't have to order one from the publisher or track it down at a newsstand. By studying the magazine along with any writing guidelines on the publisher's website or in a market guide, you'll learn how to pitch your work to the magazine.

First study the cover and slogan (for example, Highlights has the slogan "Fun with a Purpose."): what is the magazine’s focus?

Turn to the table of contents. What can you learn there?

·    Are many articles written by one person? Is that person listed in the masthead as staff? Articles that are written "in-house" by staff mean you probably won't be able to sell something to that section.
·    Are there regular departments? Who writes these? They may have a regular writer, or it may vary.
·    This page may include submission guidelines.

Study the content:

·    What types of stories/articles does the magazine use? Be as specific as possible, listing genres, topics, types of activities, and so forth.
·    Does everything relate to one theme? Many magazines, especially those with a nonfiction focus, have a theme list for each month. For example, a history magazine may cover ancient Egypt one month and ancient Greece another month. You can typically find theme lists for future issues on the publisher's website, along with writer's guidelines.
·    What is the breakdown of fiction, nonfiction, activities, and regular departments? Many magazines are primarily or exclusively nonfiction, which is an advantage to nonfiction writers!
·    How long are most pieces? This will help you determine the length of your piece. Note also that short pieces have to be very focused on a narrow topic.
·    How are pieces illustrated? What kind of sidebars do they use, if any? (A sidebar is a short piece of extra information, possibly set off in a box. It may include fun facts, a bulleted list, an example, or other information that relates to the main topic but doesn’t quite fit in the main article.) Could you include photos or sidebar information, which would make your article even more appealing?
·    Does the magazine use advertising? What kinds of products are advertised? (This can give you insight into reader interests and the magazine’s goals.)

Study several stories or articles:

·     Are they geared toward girls, boys, or both?
·     What age range?
·     What can you tell about the magazine’s style? Is it wholesome or edgy? Is it focused on health, history, science, religion, or celebrity gossip? Is there a certain tone? As one example, if a magazine uses recipes, are they healthy, or very easy, or fun to look at, etc.

Appropriate ideas:

What kinds of stories would your target magazine want? You could start by figuring out what topics the magazine might like and see if any interest you. Or you could write down a list of your hobbies and interests, and then check which ones might fit that magazine.

When developing an idea, keep the focus narrow. Think “how hummingbirds hover” rather than simply “hummingbirds.” Try “the invention of the fork” rather than “a history of utensils.” You’ll only have a few hundred words, so it’s better to go deep into a narrow topic than to skim over a broad topic.

Then Ask:

·   Is this idea appropriate for the magazine’s readership age? Will they understand and be interested in the topic?

·   Can I write this article within the magazine’s word limits? Do I need to focus it more?

·   What will readers take away from my article?

·   Why would the reader be interested?

Some types of articles:

Informational
Profile/Interview
Q&A
How-to
Craft/ Recipe
Puzzle
Personal Experience
Self-Help


Stop by next Wednesday for advice on breaking into the magazine market – – or subscribe to get posts automatically and never miss a post. You can use the Subscribe or Follow by E-Mail buttons to the right, or add http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/ to Feedly or another reader.

You can get the extended version of this essay, and a lot more, in You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Order for Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback.


Sign up for Chris’s Workshop Newsletter for classes and critique offers

Friday, January 15, 2016

Writing In No Time – Meeting Your New Year’s #Resolution

At our local SCBWI meeting this week, we discussed our writing goals – successes from last year, and goals for 2016. Since one of the big challenges is finding the time to make things happen, I wanted to reprint this article (originally from Children’s Writer).

Writing In No Time – Meeting Your New Year’s #Resolution

So many things demand our time – job, spouse, children, volunteer work, housework. It’s tempting to say, “I’ll write during vacation, or when the kids are back in school, or when the kids leave home, or when I retire ….”

Yet if you want to be a writer, you must find time to write.

Becoming a writer requires commitment. If you don’t take your work seriously, your family and friends certainly won’t either. Let them know how important writing is to you. Insist that writing time is your time, and you must not be disturbed. Carve out a few hours each week. Then close the door and ignore your phone and e-mail, or take your laptop to the library.

Finding even a few hours may seem hopeless when you have young children. Louise Spiegler, author of The Amethyst Road and The Jewel and the Key, said at that time, “It is impossible for me to write with my kids awake and active. I either tried to get both kids to nap at the same time or I spent my non-existent savings on two hours of babysitting.”

Try trading babysitting with other writing parents. Or start a play group/writers group: the kids play, the parents write or critique.

Molly Blaisdell, author of Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs and dozens of other books and mother of four, found another creative way to keep her kids busy when they were little. “I kept all the special toys in my office. When I wanted to work on a scene, I’d pull down that box and say, ‘This is quiet time for special toys.’ It would always be good for about half an hour and sometime would go for two hours.”

Involve older children in your writing activities. Brainstorm story ideas together. Have them draw pictures for your manuscripts. You’ll get more done, and they’ll learn to respect your work. Plus, your time together is research. Claudia Harrington liked driving the carpool for her daughter in middle school, because “the ride home is great for eavesdropping.”

No Use for a Muse

When your writing time is limited, you can’t afford to waste a moment. After having a baby, freelance writer Michele Corriel, author of Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery, said, “I still managed to get up before my daughter and cram in even half an hour. The problem with a shorter amount of time is you really have to ‘switch’ it on.”

Successful writers agree: no waiting for the right mood. Spiegler says, “As soon as the kids were asleep or safely dropped off, I would sit down and start working – no waiting for inspiration.”

The most productive writers work anywhere and everywhere. Jean Daigenau said, “I take advantage of the few minutes of downtime I have at school or home – while I’m eating lunch or supervising the homework group at our after-school latchkey program or soaking in the bathtub.”

If you can’t do serious writing in five-minute bursts, use the time in other ways. Daigenau suggests, “Get it written on the computer and then use those few minutes here and there to revise.”

Christine Liu Perkins, author of At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui, commented, “When I’m constantly being interrupted, chauffeuring, or sitting in waiting rooms, I brainstorm and prewrite. Wherever I am, I focus on a specific problem for that short session. What points do I want to include in this article? What happens next in the story?”

Compromise

The best organized life can sometimes just get too full. Spiegler, who also teaches college now, cautioned against buying into the super-woman myth. “It is almost impossible for me to work at a demanding job and take care of kids and write regularly. The only way I can write is to be teaching something familiar that I can spend less prep time on.”

You can’t do it all, so decide what’s most important. Then look for areas to cut back. Reduce your work hours, or cut commute time with a job closer to home. Commute by bus and write as you ride. Arrange car pools or play dates for your kids. Dictate into a tape recorder as you walk for exercise. Let the housework slide, and make quick meals. Cut back on email, web surfing or TV.

Put your family to work as well. Train your kids to do housework and cook one dinner per week – they’ll learn important skills while you get free time!

Don’t let volunteer work take over your life either. Blaisdell commented, “When my volunteer schedule [as regional advisor for SCBWI] burgeoned to 80-hour weeks before conferences, it occurred to me that I could be doing a lot more writing. Yes, I made contacts as a volunteer. I learned stuff from the best writing teachers in the world. Volunteering was a part of paying my dues, but not my lifelong occupation. My time was best spent writing.”

When a real crisis intrudes – sick kids, ailing parents, a job change or divorce – you may need to take time off from writing. Just don’t let it drag on forever. Plan how you’ll handle the crisis, and schedule a time to return to writing. In the meantime, read writing magazines or books for a few minutes each week to keep your focus. Spending even five minutes a day thinking about your writing can make it easier to transition back into writing more, without feeling like you’re starting from scratch.

How about your time? Where does writing fit in your life?

Decide, and make a commitment to your work. Then repeat this mantra: I am a writer, and writers write.


Chris Eboch writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, with 30+ traditionally published books for children. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy, The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; and the Haunted series, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs.

Chris’s writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog.

Chris also writes for adults under the name Kris Bock. “Kris Bock” writes action-packed romantic suspense involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Writing Nonfiction for Children: Magazine Market Research

Last week I discussed Why You Should Write Magazine Nonfiction. This week let's explore magazine market research. The following is excerpted and adapted from You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers.

A lot of people are intimidated by nonfiction but then find writing articles fun and interesting once they try a few. As a bonus, it can be easier to sell nonfiction because there’s more demand for nonfiction articles, but fewer people write them. Most children’s magazines use some nonfiction but not get many submissions. For example, Highlights publishes about equal amounts of fiction and nonfiction, but I’ve heard the magazine receives about 90% fiction submissions. And then there are many magazines focused on topics such as science and history, which only publish nonfiction.

Plus, if you are fairly new to modern children’s lit, studying magazines is a way to learn more about writing for different ages. The Cricket Magazine Group is a great place to start. They publish 14 magazines. Some are fiction and some are nonfiction, and they cover age ranges from birth to teen. You can read an online sample of each magazine on their website.

You may have a good idea of what you want to write; for example, maybe you are primarily interested in fiction for ages 4-6. But give the other magazines a look anyway. You may have a great idea that would be better for a different age range.

Magazines Everywhere

With some digging, you can find hundreds of other magazines targeted at children, or at parents or teachers. Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers and Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market have listings. (You can see if your local library has a copy, though it's nice to have your own copy so you can add notes.)

A search for “children’s magazines” will also bring up lots of links. Many are sites selling magazines, but they give you an overview of what’s being published. If you are interested in writing about a particular sport or hobby, you might find a children’s magazine that addresses it. Most religious groups also have their own magazines for children.

Learn from Reading

Once you identify a couple of magazines that interest you, check out their writer’s guidelines. An internet search for the magazine’s name plus “writer’s guidelines” or “submission guidelines” usually does the trick. It’s important to study those guidelines, and also actual copies of the magazine, before you submit work.

Even magazines that seem similar can be quite different in their requirements. For example, some religious magazines focus on Bible stories, while others want modern true anecdotes. In some, the message can be subtle and God need not be mentioned, while in others, the focus should be on God providing guidance.

You might also get ideas for how best to craft an article or story that will appeal to that magazine’s editor. Studying National Geographic Kids several years ago, I noticed that most articles were broken into short bites of information, such as “10 Cool Things about Dolphins.” If I wanted to pitch an article to them, I’d try to do something similar.

Study the magazines and submission guidelines, making a note of the type of content and target audience. Here are some questions to ask:

·                     What is the target age level?
·                     Do they use both fiction and nonfiction? If so, what is the rough percentage of each?
·                     What is their maximum word count? Do most of the stories/articles seem to be at the longer end of the range or at the shorter end?
·                     Are they open to submissions? What do they want (e.g., a query letter, a proposal, the complete manuscript, a writing sample)?
·                     Do they list any topics or genres they don’t want? (e.g., no articles about insects) Note that some magazines may use their own staff for certain items. For example, they may publish puzzles, but do them all “in house” so they don’t take submissions of puzzles.

Explore the Magazine Markets:


The SCBWI “Magazine Market Guide” is in The Book, included with membership: https://www.scbwi.org/online-resources/the-book/

Get magazine samples at your library, school, or house of worship; requests sample copies from the publisher; or visit publishers’ web sites to see if they have online samples.

A list of children’s magazines with links to their websites: http://www.monroe.lib.in.us/childrens/kidsmags.html


Stop by next Wednesday for more advice on analyzing the magazine market – or subscribe to get posts automatically and never miss a post. You can use the Subscribe or Follow by E-Mail buttons to the right, or add http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/ to Feedly or another reader.

You can get the extended version of this essay, and a lot more, in You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Order for Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback.

Sign up for Chris’s Workshop Newsletter for classes and critique offers


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why You Should Write Magazine Nonfiction

The following is excerpted and adapted from You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers.

Beginning writers often focus on trying to publish picture books or novels. However, many career writers – those who make their living from writing – do at least some nonfiction work for magazines. For example, in the tax year before this writing, I sold over a dozen articles, earning over $3000. That's more than I made from novel advances and royalties combined.

Nancy I. Sanders, author of Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career, describes the advantages of magazine writing. “There’s an unending opportunity to get published and build your writing credentials, especially in the smaller magazines. There are countless topics to write about for each different magazine’s focus, so it’s easy to find one that matches your personal passion. And finally, there are a significant number of magazines that pay and pay well.”

Author, instructor, and free-lance editor Bobi Martin says, “If I come across a topic that intrigues me, I study Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers to find magazines that my idea might be a good fit with. Next, I check to see if the age range and word limits of the magazines I’ve targeted fit with what I had in mind for the article. When I don’t have a topic in mind, I study the listings to see what magazine editors are looking for. When I have two or three magazines in mind, I visit their websites for their most current information. This is a great way to generate new topics to write about!”

Follow the Guidelines

Checking writer’s guidelines is important, because magazines often have strict rules for article lengths and the topics they cover. Some even use theme lists, with each issue covering a specific topic, such as a particular aspect of history or science.

Marcia E. Lusted is an Assistant Editor and Staff Writer for e-Pals Publishing, working with the Cobblestone group of children’s nonfiction magazines. “My advice would be to really pay attention to what magazines’ needs are, particularly if they are themed,” she says. “We get so many good queries that just don’t fit any of our upcoming themes and we can tell that the writer hasn’t bothered to notice that we are themed! The marketing aspect of writing – figuring out what a magazine needs and matching ideas – take time and effort.”

One advantage to writing magazine nonfiction is that you can sometimes pitch an idea instead of submitting a completed article. Even if a magazine only accepts finished articles, you can suggest other ideas in your query letter.

“When you submit a manuscript or query a magazine with your idea, it also helps to add a list of three to five ideas that might fit well into their particular magazine if your main topic doesn’t fit their current needs,” Nancy Sanders says. “I’ve landed more magazine writing assignments over the years by including a short list of other ideas in my query or cover letter for the editor to consider. Giving them the chance to choose another topic if they find merit in your writing helps avoid the constant stream of ambiguous rejections from editors saying, ‘Doesn’t suit our current needs.’”


Stop by next Wednesday for advice on researching the magazine market – or subscribe to get posts automatically and never miss a post. You can use the Subscribe or Follow by E-Mail buttons to the right, or add http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/ to Feedly or another reader.

You can get the extended version of this essay, and a lot more, in You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Order for Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback.


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