Judy Burke: Sell your story to a magazine

writing for magazinesIt’s no secret–selling a story to a children’s magazine isn’t easy. Editors consider hundreds of manuscripts each month, but they buy only a few. In such a competitive market, how can you make your submission rise above the rest?

1. Do your homework
Study the magazine’s guidelines, and follow them to a T–word count, format, what backup to include. Notice what rights the magazine buys. Does the magazine accept unsolicited manuscripts? If not, save your postage. Study the magazine you have in mind. Read three to five recent issues. What types of content does the magazine publish? What doesn’t it publish? Get to know its tone and attitude.

2. Polish your manuscript.
After you’ve finished your manuscript, reread it a few times. Your work should be free of all errors, but beyond that, ask yourself: Does it hook kids early? Is the writing lively? Is it tightly focused? Does it flow well? Will it ring true to kids? Here’s a trick: After you’ve written a story, ask a child to read it to you. If you watch and listen closely, it’s an excellent way to get your work critiqued by your target audience.

3. Learn to love the revision process.
Writing is an evolutionary process, not a one-step activity. If you get a revision letter from an editor, celebrate! Not sure if you want to make the editor’s suggested changes? Remember–editors know their magazine. If you really want to make a sale, then trust the editors and try their suggestions. If you don’t like how your manuscript turns out, you can always go back to your original and try a different market.

4. Be persistent.
Don’t get discouraged by rejection letters, and most importantly, don’t take them personally. They are not saying, “We don’t like you.” They are saying, “This manuscript is not right for us.” And there could be many reasons for that, many of which may be beyond your control. So keep writing, revising, researching your markets, and learning. Join writers’ groups and critique groups. Attend conferences. Read writers’ publications, Web sites, and blogs. And finally, work with kids whenever you can, and let your audience inspire you!

Posted on: August 21, 2015

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