Monday, April 25, 2011

Make it Your Mantra

When pitching your picture book to a publisher, it helps to have credentials.  So you decide to build credits by writing a nonfiction article for a children’s magazine. 

You research a topic, write the article, compose a cover letter, and click—you email your submission.  Will you receive an acceptance?  As Nonfiction Editor for Stories for Children Magazine, I receive many submissions that well, need a little help.  A good majority require revision.  Some miss the mark completely by submitting fiction.  So how can you join the ranks of those who succeed? 

Before you begin your article, review the magazine’s guidelines to know what will be expected of you. Guidelines will indicate how to format your manuscript.  For instance, guidelines will state whether to single or double space the text.  Guidelines will usually give the word count and the age range.  They may also call for a bibliography and a biography. 

Each publication has specific guidelines.  Read them and follow them.  While this may seem obvious, I can’t stress this point enough.  An editor is not trying to make you jump through hoops.  She’s not trying to frustrate you or test you.  The guidelines are in place to help her review the many submissions that stack up on her desk or fill up her email. 

Never argue with an editor about the guidelines.  Yes, that’s happened to me before.  An editor doesn’t have time to re-format your work or find another source for your bibliography.  It’s your job to do it correctly. So make it your mantra.  Repeat after me:   I will follow the guidelines, I will follow the guidelines.  Good job!  You’ve just increased the change of an acceptance coming your way.

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