Taking a Closer Look

Magnifying glass

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There are plenty of opportunities to write for kid magazines.  And with so many options, the topic possibilities are endless–just waiting on YOU to add your own fingerprint to the mix.  So today I thought I would share a few links where you can get started.  Well, actually, ONE BIG LINK where you’ll think you’ve found the mother lode. 

Did you know there is a website designated just for Kid Magazines?  It’s called “The Information Center for Writers for Children” and I think it’s the BEST place to start.  There, you’ll find listings and links, literally from A to Z.  There’s even a DEAD ZONE, keeping you informed on those mags you may have heard about, but are no longer in operation.

I suggest just taking some time to browse the many options out there.  The titles pretty much give away the audience and focus, but click on those that interest you and take a closer look. 

Oh, another great feature on this site is the guidelines link.  For most publications, the guidelines are just a click away.  However, some magazines require an email or snail mail request.  KidMagWriters.com keeps you informed on who shares guidelines online AND which ones are paying markets. 

If you are interested in writing for kids, magazines is the best place to start.  So take a few and check out KidMagWriters.com to see just where you can begin.

Writing for Kid Magazines

Magazines to read

As promised, here are some reminders for those wanting to submit pieces to kid magazines.

  • Know the Magazine–study several issues of the magazine noticing topics, article lengths, sidebars, age of audience, etc.  Most publications offer samples and back issues for a low price.  Or, check your local library.  Writing the perfect piece means a PERFECT fit for a specific publication. 
  • Guidelines–AFTER studying the publication, read their submission guidelines.  Most kid magazines list themes and special topics they’re looking for right on their website. 
  • Topic Twist–In today’s competitive market, you want to stand out.  Think about the topic needs of the magazine.  What slant can you take that would make the editor take notice? 
  • Be an Expert–Think about your special skills.  Specific experiences and/or special training in a particular subject will build your credibility as an expert in the field.
  • Submission Policy–Does the editor want just a query letter or the entire article?  By email or snail mail?  Make sure you read the fine print.  It pays to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.  If not, your submission will never see the light of day.

In other words, do your homework.  Plan, research, and organize your ideas.  Then, use this knowledge to provide the perfect piece for your intended magazine.  Editors will thank you.

Ready for a Challenge?

Just hours away at midnight on November 1st, novelists from around the world will press their pen to the paper taking the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel.  Are you up for it?  Then check out all the fun at www.nanowrimo.org to find out how you can be involved. 

There, you’ll find forums, pep talks, and even a store filled with fun stuff for writers.  Remember that little book by Sara Gruen that we recently found its way to the screen?  #1 New York Times Bestseller–Water for Elephants? Yep.  Those words began during NANOWRIMO, along with many other now published novels.

So, hope you take the challenge.  You never know just what’s beyond the next penned word.

Magazines, A Great Start

Magazine stand

Image by Tracy Hunter via Flickr

I’ve had many discussions with fellow writers about  just HOW to break in to the children’s book industry.  So I thought I’d share a little bit about MAGAZINE writing. 

Why start there? Here’s several reasons:

  • Writing in Demand–Think about it.  Most magazines run monthly.  This means they are filled with all sorts of information.  Magazines are always on the lookout for quality pieces with a fresh voice.
  • Specific Topics–Study any magazine and you’ll find they all have departments,many with special themes.  This is a great way for newbies who feel overwhelmed by too many ideas or worry with writer’s block where there’s no ideas at all.  This way you can find a topic you like and start there.
  • Word Counts— With these publications, there’s limited word space available.  That means every department/column must adhere to strict word counts.  For a newbie, this is great news.  First, you can breathe a sigh of relief–no pressure to write thousands of words like the latest YA bestseller. AND, it’s great discipline.  Strict word counts can teach new writers how to write tighter, keeping their pieces focused and clean.

So if a 50,000+ word count seems way out of reach or you’re just trying to get your feet wet in the world of children’s writing, magazines just may be the place for you to take the plunge.

With magazines, topics are endless and cycles continue.  Why not jump in and cycle along, too?  Next time, I’ll share a few more tips and links on KID MAGAZINE writing, so stay tuned. . .

Say Hello

Last week I mentioned the importance of keeping a writing schedule.  Well, here’s the TRUTH in hardback.  

Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich

You see, my schedule actually revolves around Millie, my dog.  Yep, she’s in charge and she knows it.

Dog owners will certainly relate to this fun story.  It’s about Mister Bud who sets his own household schedule. 

That is, until Zorro a.k.a Trouble shows up at the front door.

The front cover gives this one away–just look at those adorable faces–and that’s just what you’ll find throughout the pages.

Bookstores and Paperbacks

Bookstore in Florence, Italy

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Every single day–no exaggeration, here–I read someone’s thoughts on ebooks vs. paperbacks.

And with Borders officially announcing plucking up the FOR SALE sign to file bankruptcy, bookstores seem destined for doom.

But I disagree.  My problem with these big bookstore chains has nothing to do with Nooks and Kindles or even Amazon. 

In fact, it’s the opposite.  I long for hands-on browsing where I can ask for help or recommendations from BOOKish people .  You know, people who actually READ.  Not some teen running the register who can only recommend The Lincoln Lawyer and Water for Elephants well, because, he’s just seen the movies. 

Once upon a time I fell in love with a bookstore.  A small locally owned spot where I was greeted by the owner who knew every book in stock and could place his finger on just the book I was looking for. 

His passion for the written word filled the cluttered room and lured me in–I left with an armload of books I had never even heard of before.

Sure I love the convenience of Amazon– and ebooks are most convenient and readily available.  But I still need the paper.  Curled up in bed with my son, turning the picture book page.  Staying up way too late to turn one more page–even hugging those unforgettables close when the last page is done. 

I sit at a computer all day.  My kids look at tiny screens playing video games for way too long already.  Sometimes, we need the paper.  The feel of the books between our hands.

Are bookstores and paperbacks doomed to be replaced by techno gadgets?  I think there’s room for them all.

Pencil Me In!

"Classic" size Franklin Planner w Mo...

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Thanks to my teaching background I’m a stickler for schedules.–show up one minute late to pick up your kiddies from the library and you’ve shifted the entire school day.

Writing from home where I’m only accountable to ME has greatly increased this need for a plan.   

That’s why I keep a planner.  I have one of those large daily/monthly planners for students–yes, I like to write in longhand–where I have plenty of room to fill my day with everything from dentist appointments and paying the bills, to writing to word counts and visiting the local library.

My planner keeps me:

accountable–at the end of the day/week I look back to celebrate accomplishments and make changes for new attempts the following day/week.

motivated–writing alone, day after day, can be frustrating.  I jot down small goals along the way to keep me going as I head toward the big goal–a finished manuscript.

prioritized–if not for the planner, I’d drown in a heap of work– I can easily become consumed by thoughts and new ideas.  Knowing that I’ve planned out plenty of work time throughout the week, I’m able to take more time to relax and enjoy the other things in life–LIVING– so that when I do sit down to write I’m able to breathe real life onto the page. 

For me, I like things neat and tidy.  The planner provides a little of that to my hectic life.  Does my schedule always work?  No way!  In fact, most days are left with something to push forward to the next. 

But I have a plan.  I’ve set goals, decided on the best way to accomplish each, and scheduled time to make attempts at reaching toward them.  And little by little, I make my way toward the finish line.