My eleven-year-old decided to write her own retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. First, she went to the library to find as many versions as she could of the famous tale. She read each one, noting what characteristics they shared and what details made each unique.
She titled her version “Sea White and the Seven Starfish”. After several weeks of writing and revising, her story sparkled like sunshine on a salty sea. “Will you publish it on your blog?” she asked. “I could,” I answered, “but it might be more fun to see if you could get it published in a magazine.” She loved the idea. But where to start?
With my daughter in mind, here now are SIX tips for young writers (and their parents) on how to submit original kid-written work to magazines.
Select a publication destination. Only certain magazines accept work from children. For a comprehensive list, visit the NewPages Young Author’s Guide. Maintained by editor Denise Hill, a teacher who loves to encourage young writers, this great resource also includes a list of legitimate contests for kids. Each listing has a link to the publication’s website where you can find more information.
Read several issues before submitting anything. Once you have a short list of potential publications, be sure to take time to read several back issues. Not only is this a great chance for your kids to experience reading magazines, it will also give you and them a sense of the style and content of each. Does one magazine favor poetry while another favors prose? Are the illustrations also done by kids? How many pieces by kids are included in each issue? These are just a few of the questions you and your child will want to think about.
Follow the publisher’s guidelines carefully. Once you and your child have decided which magazine to submit to, revisit the publisher’s website and print out their submission guidelines. Make sure your child follows their protocol exactly so that she/he makes a good impression and so that the piece is eligible for review. Pay special attention to word length and format. For example, does the piece need to be typed, or is neat handwriting okay?
Send ONLY your BEST work. This should be obvious, but it warrants special mention because, as I’ve learned from visiting young writers in schools, kids often mistakenly think that once they’ve written something, it’s finished. But good writing requires revision, preferably multiple times, with a nice final round of polishing. And it’s always a good idea to proofread every sentence with care one extra time before sending.
Be patient. This is hard for kids, but waiting is the name of the game in the publishing world. Most magazines give a time frame for when to expect a reply. A nice way to help kids wait is to colorfully mark the possible response date on the family calendar. While they wait, encourage them to work new stories and projects!
Stay positive and remember rejection is part of the process. This is also hard for kids, but the reality is only a few of the multitude of manuscripts submitted will make it into print. Still, kids can remain positive because just taking the time to hone and craft a story and send it off – no matter the ultimate response – makes them a winner in my book! And if nothing pans out, there’s always the possibility of publishing it as an email to family members, or as a special blog post on a family member’s blog. Sounds like a win/win to me!
Happy subbing, young writers!