WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE?
by Donna L Martin
If I were to take a poll of the people reading this WRITERLY WISDOM series I would imagine most of them would be either children's book writers or novelists. Some may write picture books, others write middle grade or young adult but I believe the vast majority sees their path to publication through books as the preferred medium. I, too, am one of those people who are working toward the goal of becoming a published author of my own books one day. But if you are a beginner writer just starting to dip your toes in this professional writing pool, seeking to have a book published might be an extremely challenging goal. It also might make you wonder...
WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE?
When I started writing professional three years ago I knew in my heart I wanted to write books...picture books...middle grade...and young adult. I wasn't really sure how to go about it and I took the next two years learning as much as I could about the industry. I quickly found out winning a book contract is almost like winning the lottery...almost impossible to do and subject to a whole lot of luck!
So while I continued to write stories, I looked around to see what other avenues might be available to help me establish some publishing credits. I started to research anthologies and magazines as other possible paths. Not exactly a way to see my name on the cover of a book, but still a viable way to add to my writing resume.
It helped that I liked writing poetry, short stories and essays because that's what editors creating anthologies look for...writers whose portfolio includes those types of copy. And when my essay "Shortcut To Peace" was picked up by Chicken Soup For The Soul: Angels Among Us edition (published January 2013) I realized there was a whole other market I should consider. If my goal was to become published then hard bound books wasn't the only way.
AN ALTERNATIVE TO BOOKS
New writers may want to consider the possibility of focusing on stories and articles for magazines...at least in the beginning of their career. Magazines offer a number of advantages for the newbie writer:
1. The stories and articles are usually shorter in the word count department than say, a novel, so new writers could quickly feel a sense of accomplishment by completing an assignment.
2. Magazine publication cycles are much shorter than books so new writers must learn to work with tight deadlines. This challenges them to work consistently and streamline their entire writing process for optimum efficiency.
3. Even a small story in a small magazine with limited circulation looks good on an otherwise empty resume. I might only have one publishing credit to my name at this point, but you can bet I include it in my query letters. It tells the world that SOMEONE took a chance on me and my writing is worth considering.
4. Both fiction and non-fiction stories can be found in magazine which gives the new writer a chance to perfect their research skills.
So which magazine should you choose? Just like Agents or Publishers, you have to do your research. Resources like SCBWI (http://www.scbwi.org) or the latest Writer's Market book (http://www.writersmarket.com) provide a list of kid's magazines being published today and there is always a Google search.
HOMEWORK, HOMEWORK, HOMEWORK
Just like you would do for your book manuscript, you have to do your research when it comes to magazines. Visit their website, check out their submission guidelines, even buy a copy or two and READ what types of articles they are accepting. Determine which of your work would do well in a magazine format, sharpen your query letter and send it off with fingers crossed!
To get you started, here is a short list of children's magazines along with the link to their websites. Some of these names like Cricket Family of Magazines actually has a number of different maagazines to review on their website. Take your time, be thorough in your research and good luck!
And in the meantime?
Sports Illustrated Kids (http://www.sikids.com)
National Geographic Kids (http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids)
Kids Discover (http://www.kidsdiscover.com)
Boys' Lie (http://boyslife.org)
YUM Food & Fun For Kids (http://www.yumfoodandfun.com)
Girls' Life (http://www.girlslife.com)
Discovery Girls (http://discoverygirls.com)
Young Rider (http://subscribe.youngrider.com/Young-Rider/Magazine)
Cricket Family of Magazines (http://www.cricketmag.com)
U S Kids Family of Magazines (http://www.uskidsmags.com)