Week Eighteen - Writing for Children and Teens

From Inspiration to Publication

Learning the Language of Publishing


October 4, 2016


When I started this process of learning to write for children and teens, I thought I knew all the magazines out there written specifically for this age group. It was a little like thinking you know how to speak Spanish because you took it in middle school. Then, arriving in Barcelona only to find out they don’t speak your brand of Spanish and they certainly don’t slow down for you.

When the Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers 2016 arrives with the ICL text, I am stunned to see a 400 page resource book filled with 651 listings for places where I can submit my work. I can practically write two articles or stories a day for an entire year in an attempt to get published.

I think one of the biggest aha moments for me, at this point, is that there is a big world of people out there wanting to find well written articles and stories to publish. They are looking for me as much as I am looking for them.

Isn’t that astounding?

I think as writers we find ourselves feeling like beggars, hoping and pleading for someone to take the story we’ve labored over and with which we have fallen in love. The truth is that it’s a little like finding your soulmate. Each time I write a piece, I must spend equal time finding the perfect mate for it. There is a sentence that is part of a checklist for Assignment Seven in the ICL text that causes me to nod my head in agreement. It states:

“If major changes in content and structure were called for, have you gritted your teeth and made them? (p.249)”

It is this very real instruction that makes me love this course so much. I do have to grit my teeth and change a huge portion of the article I wrote for Assignment Four, but the revisions make my article much more readable and professional. The next grit your teeth issue for me is the research necessary to find the right mate for my article. I truly hate this work, but it must be done. ICL tries to make it easier for me by having several template worksheets for what to look for in a potential magazine market for my articles and stories. I copy it to use again because it is easier for me to find the answers to questions than to roam free through the book, looking for a magazine that might have the criteria my article contains.

In the first few chapters of the book Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers 2016, there is great information to help me make the best decision in the least amount of time. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. I am learning that there are many markets to submit to, ranging from writing for children to writing for educators. It also explores the current growth of digital magazine markets and need for regular blog contributors. These digital markets are making it faster to see your byline. I’ve heard this before, but it quickly becomes clear that I need to open my mind about where I look to publish my work if I am to move the process more quickly.

“Some publishing truths are unchanging: if you want to be a published writer, you must identify and study your potential markets, you must tailor your ideas to the needs of those markets’ readers and editors, and you must write well (Writer’s Institute Publications, p. 8).”

This reminds me of that declaration, “We find these truths to be self-evident.” I get it. I must put the work into it in order to get something good out of it. There is so much thought and consideration into understanding the big picture of writing for children and teens. I love the sitting down and rapidly writing my first draft of a great idea, but then there are some less thrilling (read: tedious) actions I must take in order to round out the process. I make a mental note to consciously enjoy the entire process because it is so necessary.

The great thing about the Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers 2016 is that it’s not just a resource listing. Yes, there are 651 listings that include what you’d expect, like magazine title, address, editors’ names, freelance potential, and submission requirements, but there are also many chapters explaining in minute detail how a writer needs to use this book and get a piece submitted correctly and to the right editor. This is critical to moving forward as a writer. I remember during Assignment One how much the text and my instructor stressed the importance and value of how a manuscript looks from the font to the margins. At the time, I found this to be trivial. I now know how editors view a piece that doesn’t conform to these standards. They tend to ignore it in the slush pile because they get sometimes hundreds of articles and queries a day and must use some criteria for elimination. That is why research and due diligence matters so much. I want my hard work to be read and loved. I don’t want it to end up in the trash just because I didn’t take the time to make it easier to read and completely appropriate for the editor I’ve sent it to.

Since I also write books, I find myself reading and marking up the thick, practical guide called Book Markets for Children’s Writers 2016. I can’t believe I’ll get through all 665 listings for places to submit your book to this year, but who knows! Maybe I will, since I’ve already gone through almost 70 pages of the nuts and bolts around how to consider who to market my manuscript to. I’m starting to see where I fit into this world, and the section called, The Year in Review, which contains articles about the current state of the children’s book publishing industry fascinates me. With my newly formed feeling of belonging, I find I am more engaged in understanding how it all works.

As I move from this portion of the Book Markets for Children’s Writers 2016, I locate the beginning of the listings. I actually do have a middle grade book manuscript that I’ve been revising and workshopping for a while now. I am finally ready to start looking for an agent who might think it could be sold. So the listing part is important to me these days. I read the listings introduction and find this bit of practical advice:

 “You can approach this book three ways: (1) Use the alphabetical index beginning to find a particular publisher, agent, or contest listing. (2) Browse through a given section of the book to review the needs of the companies of most interest to you. (3) Go to the category index and search out publishers in specific genres and categories (p. 64).”

This helps me understand how I should look at the information. How I should slice and dice my thoughts about how to get this research accomplished. This book makes the process feel less daunting to me and gives me the words I will need to be familiar with in this industry. I am far more accustomed to words like pitch, query, submission, and imprint than I was just four months ago.

Instead of making me feel panicky, these resources show me that there is a world out there for me. Like I would in Barcelona, I know that I must learn the language and the customs. I also know that no one is born knowing these things. Everyone must learn how to navigate the children’s book writing industry if they are to write for children and get published. These books are the map, guide, and language translation I need to get there successfully.

Kimberley Moran's site

Kimberley Moran is a gifted and talented teacher and freelance writer who lives in Hampden, Maine. She has two children and one very nice husband. Kimberley would like her bio to make her sound brilliant, witty, and kind because she knows that when you write and read you get to be anyone you want to be.





Denise W. McGrain
January 21, 2017

Thanks for the read and comments. I'm always up for all the information I can get, and any updates on how to update my writing and materials.

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