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Breaking Into The Parenting Market
by Marie-Helen Goyetche

The parenting market provides a venue for all writers -- yes, all writers. There are as many parenting magazines as there are different styles of writing. Many parenting magazines have the 'normal' non-fiction informational style of article but turn the page and you'll discover other styles.

What You'll Find In Parenting Magazines

You'll find creative non-fiction articles for problem solving, a fictional story to make the reader relax, a poem or two for reflection. You'll find how-to articles such as how to get the children to behave or how to deal with their behavior, quizzes about parenting styles and relationships and personal essays for the "I've been where you are at now". You'll find articles written by mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other adults about relationships with children. You'll also find family humor to help the reader see that "things are not as bad as they seem".

Before writing for parenting magazines, you need to know there are two major categories in the genre: those with a regional and those with a national distribution.

The Regional Magazines

The regional magazines are publications of under 60,000 in circulation covering a limited geographic location. Many of these regional magazines want a local slant in their articles. Most articles run from 400-700 words. Their lead time is about 2-3 months but the pay is on publication. The pay isn't high but the editors will buy one-time (reprint) rights allowing you to sell your articles to other regional parenting magazines. This is the place to build a portfolio of clips to get the credentials to move up to the national magazines.

The National Magazines

A national magazine circulation can start from 100 000+ copies per issue and can be found across the nation. These magazines want articles that will suit a larger and more diverse population. You'll need to query your story idea providing a résumé and clips to the editor. Articles can run from 200 words up to 3000 words. Pay is usually acceptance. $.50+ a word is an average price. The higher pay compensates the fact that most buy all rights or FNASR (First North American Serial Rights). Due to the large number of writers submitting material to these publications competition is fierce. Many national publications demand that articles are submitted 8-12 months ahead of the event or holiday.

Study The Past

Knowing the differences between both styles of parenting magazines is not enough, you'll still need to send away for their guidelines and study past issues to get a feeling of what the magazine's styles and needs are. Some national magazines pay on publication. Some regional magazines do not accept fiction or personal essays. Their needs are vast and different. Are they looking for an academic approach or is their publication in a more popular vein? Do they serve a highly educated audience or one with limited education? Is the publication based on religious beliefs? Focus on the magazines' needs and their lead time.

What to Write About?

"When I started my full-time freelance writing career, this is the market I chose. I wrote about it (a family dilemma)...it was accepted and my relationship with parenting publications was born," says Marisa Trevino a freelance writer.

"I broke into the parenting market with a personal essay," says freelance writer Dana Nourie.

Parenting magazines, whether regional or national, focus on the daily relations with children. Knowledge about babies, children or teenagers provides an advantage. Are you a specialist in a field that involves children?

"The old writer's adage, "write what you know" is not one that I usually adhere to since I enjoy learning about new things, but writing for the parenting market comes naturally to me probably because I am a parent," says Marisa Trevino.

Medical, artistic or educational are some areas of expertise you could slant for parents. Have you, your family or friends lived through a traumatic event?

Maybe you have a special and successful parenting tip you'd like to share. Most parenting magazines will pay for fillers - advice or tips under 100 words.

How To Write The Articles

When writing for the parenting market, tone and style must offer support, inform the readers and be easy to understand. The words must be written in a straightforward manner, without jargon or a condescending attitude. For the best possible chances to make it into print give the reader more than solution or possibility. Include sidebars and additional information such as telephone numbers, support group addresses, web sites or books to deepen and encourage their own research. The reader will appreciate a sense of not being the only one facing this situation - be resourceful and comprehensive.

Other possibilities

A parenting magazine just like parenting in itself is a not strictly one domain. Consider writing crafts articles: for the parents to make as gifts, or for special holiday treats or as an activity to share time with their children. Activities, games, recipes are also popular article topics. Ideas for Halloween costumes, birthday parties and other celebrations will always have a place in the parenting market.

Where To Find Guidelines

I invite you to check The Writer's Place Guidelines Database at http://www.awoc.com where they list over 40 parenting markets (write parent or child as your key word in the search).

Dana Nourie along with Rachel Stassen Berger have created Writers' Guidelines Database http://mav.net/guidelines/family.shtml have at least 25 markets listed.

© Copyright 1998, Marie-Helen Goyetche

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