How to Submit Your Writing for Children
Blog | writing for children and teens | writing for magazines
October 20, 2016
People writing for children will find that the number of agents, publishers, and contests open to receiving electronic submissions has continued to grow. On the one hand, this is great.
You save the postage cost.
You know your manuscript won't take days or weeks to arrive at the publisher.
And you can track how long a submission has been at a publisher with complete accuracy because email is nearly instant communication.
So are there any drawbacks to electronic submissions? Maybe. You do have to pay extremely close attention to the submission guidelines so you are sending an acceptable format. Highlights, for example, uses a submission management software called Submittable for all electronic submissions. Submittable allows you to send submissions in the "traditional" format with a double-spaced manuscript with clear headers and page numbers. In many ways, using Submittable is much like sending things through postal mail, only without the postage. You actually get to send your manuscript document.
Publishers using Submittable include the bug magazines (Cricket, Ladybug,
But not every publisher or agent uses Submittable. And that can affect how you send your material. Brilliant Star, for instance, requires a query first that is sent by email. On the other hand, Cadet Quest will accept full manuscripts via email but they must be pasted in the body of the email with no attachments). Not every magazine that accepts submissions through email gives specific requirements for the submission. The Friend will accept donated stories via email, but doesn't specify if the submission should be pasted in or attached.
So what's an author to do when in doubt?
Personally, I never send attachments unless I am
(1) using an upload submission app like Submittable or
(2) the guidelines specifically say to send attachments.
Instead, I'll paste in the submission and mention that a document file is available if preferred.
So, if you're cutting and pasting, how do you do headers and double spacing and page numbers? You don't. Submissions that are cut and pasted into email will be single spaced with an extra space between paragraphs. When you paste it into the email, you'll have the cover letter first (which will have a signature followed by your full contact information including email, address, and phone number). Then I normally do some kind of separating line. I might use --- or *** or maybe something else. What kind of separator you use isn't important. What's important is that you have some kind of separation between cover letter and manuscript.
I begin the manuscript with my title and my byline and my contact information AGAIN. This is so they can contact me even if they are looking at a printout of the manuscript. So that will look like this:
COOLEST MANUSCRIPT IN THE WORLD
by Jan Fields
my email address
my phone number
Then I'll double space and begin the manuscript itself. Again, it will be single spaced with extra spaces between paragraphs. This ensures that the manuscript is readable if it's printed out. If you try to manually double space an email, you're going to have a mess. And editors aren't patient with messes.
So as with most things related to submissions. Follow the guidelines to the letter when you can find them. And make it easy to find your contact information. Do that and you'll have electronic submissions that are easy to read and make a good first impression. After that, it's all up to the writing. And that's exactly as it should be.
Jan Fields is a full-time, freelance author and an Institute of Children's Literature Instructor. Would you like to have your own instructor teaching you on a one-on-one basis? Show us a sample of your work here.