Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No, I'm not delusional

In case anyone thought I was delusional when I said I've decided to make writing my new career, I'm not. I know it will take hard work and dedication. To get started, I am focusing on non-fiction: magazine articles to build up my CV. I have also started writing up proposals for educational publishers. I do not think my MG novel will be the next Harry Potter (although that would be lovely).


Writing non-fiction for magazines is actually a terrific way to get your foot in the proverbial door to publication. And yet... I have found very few resources that focus on writing non-fiction for children. Information on writing for magazines is targeted to an adult audience; information about writing for children is usually geared toward fiction writers. What I'm trying to do is somewhere in between.

How then, to begin? Well, I've been diligent about reading my Children's Book Insider and SCBWI Bulletin when they come out (this is one of my resolutions for the year—to make use of the information while it's still fresh and relevant).

I've written several articles on topics that are listed under "current needs" for their magazines. And I have done my homework by (1) reading every last letter of the submissions guidelines and (2) checking out old copies of said magazines from the school library. The latter has helped a great deal in terms of writing style, and the former I somehow failed to do for one of my first submissions (either that, or Highlights changed their submission requirements after I submitted; I suspect it was my error and the form rejection was a nice stinging reminder to pay closer attention).

I must say that the Children's Book Insider and the SCBWI Bulletin are essential tools for the children's author. If you write for children (or want to), you need them. I recommend both, since publishers advertise information in one, but typically not in both, at least not at the same time.

How have you found writing opportunities?


  1. Did you know that there exists a book called Magazine Markets for Children's Writers? It's used by students of the Institute of Children's Literature. You don't have to be a student to buy the book.

  2. Thanks Christie, it's a great reference. I was actually trying to point out the use of advertisements. If a magazine spends money to advertise, and a writer submits something that fits the specifications, it will earn them a closer look by the editors.

  3. Building up some magazine publication credits is a great idea - something I've often thought about but never quite had the discipline to carry out!

    It doesn't sound like you're delusional at all - in fact that sort of work is the bread and butter stuff which keeps many writers going.