Kim Cooper, editor of OWL Magazine, was on the faculty for our workshop Writing for Magazines. Here she shares some advice for writers about how to make sure their stories are ready to submit:
So you’ve written a potentially award-winning story and are eager to get it published by a children’s magazine. You’ve researched the magazines that are perfectly suited for it. Now, you’re ready to submit! But…hold up. You may have forgotten one very important thing—your target market.
It’s easy to assume that kids are going to love your story—most likely you’ve researched the market and know that there’s nothing else like it out there for kids and it has just that je ne sais quoi quality. But did you take the time and test it with readers in the magazine’s age group? This is key.
Here are three steps you can take to test your work before you submit:
1. Know the publication’s target reader. Pick up some back issues of their magazine and get familiar with other stories that have been published. How old are their readers? What are the personality traits of the kids? Is it mostly upbeat stories with happy endings that continually get published? Is it inspiring stories? Find out as much as you can about the kind of content the magazine is looking for.
2. Test your story with kids (then revise, then test again!). If you have kids of your own in the target group, ask for an afternoon full of snacks and reading fun. Read your story aloud to the kids and observe. Watch for their reactions. Ask for feedback when the story is done. Kids are honest, they’ll tell you! Better yet, you’ll probably know by the looks on their faces.
3. Befriend a children’s librarian. Librarians are constantly interacting with the readers you want to impress. They may be happy to give you some advice on your manuscript.
Taking these steps is just part of your amazing journey into the world of publishing for kids. What you learn along the way may surprise you!