Oh, I’m so excited to have Melissa Goodwin here today as part of her WOW! Blog Tour! She’s the author of a delightful middle grade novel called The Christmas Village, and she’s generously giving away a copy to one of my lucky commenters! Plus, she’s generously sharing her tips for entering the children’s magazine market! (I know that’s a lot of exclamation points, but I’m really excited.) So, heeeeere’s Melissa!
I began writing for children’s magazines about 10 years ago, after spending almost 30 years working in a corporate environment. After having focused so long on honing taut business writing skills, writing for kids demanded that I loosen up and rediscover a sense of playfulness in my writing style. I also wanted to build a resume that would later show agents and publishers that I had worked hard at my craft, persisted and succeeded. Since then, more than 50 of my stories, articles and poems have been published in children’s magazines and my middle grade novel, The Christmas Village, has just been released. I’d like to share some resources I used and some steps I took to get started, in the hopes that they will boost you along your writing path too.
Resources to Help You Get Started
Today, there are many blogs and websites with information for writers in every genre. But the two that helped me the most continue to be at the top of my list for writers trying to enter the children’s market:
Write4kids.com: This site has a terrific archive of helpful “how to” articles and videos, from which I mined a tremendous amount of information. They also have an e-zine called Children’s Book Insider, which provides market leads.
SCBWI: Similarly, The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has a newsletter with publishing leads and articles about writing for kids, along with information about the market.
Figuring Out Where to Submit Your Work
I put this before “Figuring Out What to Write,” because many magazines provide Theme Lists that are a huge help with that part – it’s great when you don’t have to guess what a magazine might want! So here are my suggestions for finding magazines to target:
Go to Amazon.com and search on children’s magazines. You’ll get a comprehensive list,.
Pick the magazines that seem like the best fit for you, based on the age group you’re interested in writing for and the type of writing you’d like to do (fiction, non-fiction, poetry).
Order several sample issues of each magazine.
Study the stories and articles. I mean really study them. Make note of the tone – is it light and fun, or a little more serious? How many words is a typical piece? Does there seem to be a consistent format to the articles?
Get the Theme List, if they have one.
Figuring Out What to Write
I wrote many pieces for the Fun for Kidz family of magazines, which consists of Fun for Kidz, Boys’ Quest and Hopscotch for Girls. This gave me the chance to write for both boys and girls. Sometimes I came up with ideas for their themes right away, but often I came up blank. One theme was “Fun with Rocks,” and I thought, I’ll never come up with anything for that! Then I did a search on “famous rocks.” The next thing I knew, I’d sold an article called, “If These Rocks Could Talk,” about The Blarney Stone, The Stone of Scone and The Black Stone of Mecca. So, if you don’t have an idea right away, don’t give up! If I could write about rocks, you can probably write about sticks!
There’s so much more that we could talk about here, but I hope that some of what I’ve shared will help you along your path to writing and publishing your work in the children’s market. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and continuing the conversation.
GREAT tips from someone who knows her stuff! And now, I’ve just got to share a little something something about Melissa and The Christmas Village.
I don’t always get my copy of a book that’s on tour in time to read it, but Melissa sent The Christmas Village early and I’m so glad! It’s such a charming story, and a cozy tale that will appeal to all ages. Jamie, a 12-year-old boy, dreams of escaping his troubles and wishes he could live in a simple town like Canterbury, his grandmother’s Christmas village that is spread under her tree. When his wish comes true, Jamie finds that all is not so calm and bright in the village, and it’s up to Jamie and his new friends to make a happy Christmas for all. And then Jamie is ready to go home again. But how?
I know you’ll enjoy this holiday story! It’s a fun mystery, and a perfect read for a winter’s night. Oh! And Melissa has promised to stop by today if you have anyquestions about entering the children’s magazine market, or writing a novel, or…you know what? I bet she’ll answer just about any question you have. Hmmm…maybe I’ll ask her what I’m getting for Christmas!
(P.S. You can get your own signed copy of The Christmas Village for the holidays if you leave a comment! I’ll draw a winner this time, next week!)
What excellent advice! I appreciate the concrete suggestions on how to research who’s accepting what.
Thanks for the tips on sources, I hadn’t heard of Write4kids!
Cathy, your excitement is contagious!!! (see all those exclamation points?!!!) Thanks so much for hosting me, and for sharing your thoughts about my book. I hope your friends and followers will enjoy it too.
Bonita – thanks for stopping by!
Robyn – Write4kids is actually THE BEST resource. I gleaned so much from them. They offer more “how to’s” than any other resource I found, and I got my lead to check out Fun for Kidz from their info.
Yes, Melissa, I do love the exclamation point! 😉
Thanks for stopping by y’all. I think Melissa will pop in during the day if you have questions, so fire away!
I’m a big fan of the exclamation point too…
This is great advice.I learned about submitting articles to magazines in a writer’s group, although I’ve yet to try it! I think it’s a niche not all writers think about, esp in children’s books, but it can build up writing credentials. Thanks for the link, I will check it out!
Thanks for the links and tips. I already have a copy of Melissa’s charming book, so don’t throw my name in the hat. I just wanted to come by and add my comment about what a great book it is and how gracious and generous both Melissa and Cathy are.
Good luck with your book!
Thank you for supplying additional tips and information. I’d like to win a copy of THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE.
Stephscottil, I definitely think that having a solid resume writing for children’s magazines helped me find an agent. Plus it gives you experience and confidence.
Hi Donna – always good to see you – thanks for coming by.
Patricia – nice to meet you, and good luck!
Thank you for the great advice!
I love a Christmas story, for any age. Thanks for all the great tips.
Hi Terry and Sally, I’m glad they were helpful. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi.
Thanks for the ideas. It never occurred to me to look at amazon for a list of Children’s Magazines.
I would love to win The Christmas Village.
Oh “The Stone of Scone” – now I am intrigued!! Great encouraging tips on how we can rise and write to a challenge like that ‘rocks’ theme.
I would love to win The Christmas Village for my daughter’s stocking!
I thought the EXACT same thing about the Stone of Scone, Cathy! (Great minds think alike. And have the same name, too. 😉
Hey, I dashed over! Lots of great advice here. Thanks for posting, Cathy. 🙂
Oh, yeah . . . don’t forget to put my name in the hat!
Consider your hat thrown in, Lisa! (Thanks for dashing!!!) 🙂
Hi Mary, Cathy and Lisa – thanks for stopping by.
The Stone of Scone has a very mysterious story … as do all the rocks I wrote about. The stuff of legends and kings and times long ago…
Enjoyed reading this and found the advice very helpful. I love the website write4kids. Their bootcamps are great also. Nancy McCorkle
Please put my name in the drawing!! This sounds like just the kind of book I would love, and I can think of a few kiddos in this house who would be staying up late to read it, too.
Melissa, thank you for all the great advice. I’m sure editors appreciate it when they can tell someone has done their homework. You’re advice was very encouraging and practical!
Cathy, I love the falling snow you’ve got going on here at Finders Keepers, and though it breaks my heart to say this, I think it’s time for cheesy cracker squirrel to go. 🙂
Thanks to you both! I loved this post!
Okay, I’m usually not that bad of a writer. I know it’s “your advice” not “you’re advice”. Oops. Although it could be a huge compliment to tell someone “You. Are. Advice.” 🙂
It’s not that easy to get rid of cheesy squirrel, Debra. As if I need to tell the Squirrel Writer that.
P.S. Your kiddos would LOVE this book! Good luck!
P.P.S. I think I rather like it as the compliment. 😉
Great advice! The Christmas Village sounds like a wonderful read. Even if I don’t win it, I will definitely check it out!
Now, THAT’S a fan!:-)
Thanks for dropping in, Jennifer–Good luck!