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Monday, June 13, 2011

Steps for Publishing Nonfiction Articles for Children, Part II

As mentioned on the May 30th blog, publishing nonfiction articles for children is like climbing a staircase.  You've got to take eight steps before reaching the top landing:  publication.  The first four steps are: follow the magazine's guidelines, review copies of the magazine, use reliable sources, and add something extra—write from personal experience.  Now let's take the final four steps.

Step #5:  Educate and entertain
Spin the well-researched information into a story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending.  The beginning should hook your audience and coax them to continue reading.  The middle is the meat of the story where you explain your topic.  Use similes to help kids understand complex issues.  Incorporate onomatopoeia to bring excitement to your writing.  Add alliteration and assonance to give emphasis to your words.  Lastly, complete your article with a satisfying ending.  Find a creative way to tie it in to the first paragraph.   

Step #6:  Edit your work
Read your article aloud.  If you stumble on a word, change it until the piece flows.  Allow another reader to peruse your work.  He may pick up a mistake that you’ve overlooked.  Use spell check, but know that it’s not always accurate.  Apply the Flesch-Kincaid grade level tool or another grade assessment when writing for a specific age.  In addition, find an expert to review your work.  Consider revising your piece based on the expert’s suggestions.  Doing so will add credibility to your article.  

Step #7:  Include a properly formatted bibliography
Even if the guidelines indicate that only a few sources are required, list those sources in alphabetical order with the author’s last name followed by a comma and the author’s first name.  Cite the title, the city (and state if the city is obscure), the publishing company, and publishing date.  When in doubt, refer to reference books like The Chicago Manual of Style for proper formatting. 

Step #8:  Keep the cover letter short
Now you’re ready to write a short professional cover letter addressed to the editor.  Compose a one-page letter.  Entice the editor with a strong hook.  Give the title, the word count, the intended audience, and an overview of the piece, plus a short bio.  Thank the editor for her time.  E-mail or mail in your submission with the cover letter (check those guidelines!)  

When I receive a submission, I make sure that the manuscript and the bibliography have been formatted correctly.  I check to see if the word count is correct.  If not, I may reach for a rejection slip.  But, if the magazine guidelines were followed, then a foot is in the door.   I will eagerly read on to determine whether the topic would be of interest to our audience.  And if you’ve taken those eight steps, I’m betting an acceptance will soon come your way. 

1 comment:

Jenny Sulpizio said...

Great blog and tips! I am a children's picture book author of "Mommy Whispers." Visit my site when you get a chance.

Jenny Lee Sulpizio