Share this article on Facebook
Themed Writing for Childrens Magazines
by Shannon Caster
For the next year my writing calendar is virtually full. I have enough
ideas to keep several authors busy. No sleepless nights fighting writer’s
block and no worrying if my story idea is right for editors. I wake up
each morning, spend a few minutes on the computer and plan out my entire
day. I often schedule a month at a time. My secret? Themed magazines.
Publishers are constantly updating theme lists. I bookmarked my favorite
magazine theme lists on my web browser. When I’m short on writing
ideas, need to make a few extra dollars, or ready to start a new writing
project, I head to my selection of theme lists. I know the manuscript
I create following a suggestion on a theme list is more likely to grab
the editor’s attention and land me a paycheck.
Recently, Carus Publishing posted their upcoming themes for the 2006-2007
publishing calendar. You may recognize Carus Publishing by one or more
of their publications, such as Babybug, Ladybug, Cricket, Spider, or Cicada.
Many of us grew up reading Ladybug or Cricket at school and in the doctor’s
waiting room. While these literary magazines don’t have specific
theme lists, their history and science counterparts do. These magazines
include Appleseeds, Calliope, Cobblestone, Dig, and Faces – the
social studies and history versions. Of course, you might find Odyssey,
their science magazine, more your style. You can view their theme lists
at http://www.cricketmag.com/pages_content.asp?page_id=6. Or go to www.cricketmag.com
and on the top header, click on About Us. Then click on Submission Guidelines.
You can view upcoming topics and query due dates for each magazine.
BRAINSTORM THE POSSIBLITIES
Once you find a topic of interest, begin with an Internet search. For
example, one of Calliope’s upcoming themes is the Birth of Ancient
India. A quick Internet search on ancient India will reveal many websites,
including www.ancientindia.co.uk. Here you will find information on The
Buddha, Early Hinduism, Indus Valley, Hindu gods and goddesses, plus early
epics and myths. Once you find an angle of interest, you can narrow your
search. Maybe you find the story of Narayana the Creator captivating.
There’s your angle. Browse Narayana on the Internet to start your
CHECK SAMPLE MAGAZINES
Of course, every website and editor shouts from behind their computer
screen, “Check back issues for tone and style.” Carus Publishing
is no exception. A quick trip to your local library will help greatly
in your search for back issues of the magazine you are interested in writing
for. A wealth of information can be found in these back issues to aid
in securing a sale. If you’re writing a Buddha article for Calliope,
you will find the magazine usually features small clips centered around
one event or idea, rather than a full biography that briefly describes
dates, events, and accomplishments. You might write about one event in
Buddha’s life, like his journeys out into the town streets where
he met old, sick and injured men for the first time. It was these encounters
that led to his fundamental truths of life. I usually check at least six
back issues to see what slant articles take before typing my outlines.
ORGANIZING YOUR IDEAS
With the themes in the Carus network of magazines, and query due dates
out to July 2007, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make a
few extra dollars. Upon release of the new theme lists, I made a spreadsheet
of topics of interest to me. I set up four columns on my spreadsheet.
The first column contained the name of the magazine –so I could
remember which magazine to refer to later when sending my outlines. The
next column I listed the theme. The third column contained the query due
date. This way I can make sure I work on themes with earlier due dates
first. In the last column I listed possible angles for my articles. The
last column might have one idea or five, depending on how many queries
I am sending for each theme.
I like to use Excel to create my spreadsheet because of the sort feature.
Once my list is complete, I can ask Excel to sort the information by magazine,
due dates, or alphabetical by theme. My choice is always due dates. I
can see at the top of my spreadsheet, the theme with the nearest query
due date. To access this feature in excel, go to Data then Sort. From
here you can choose what method to sort your information.
SAVE TIME AND OUTLINE IT
Carus history and science magazines don’t require the full article
for consideration. They ask for 1) a brief cover letter, 2) an outline
of proposed topic, 3) bibliography of sources to be used, and 4) SASE.
If your idea is accepted, you will be notified about 4-5 months before
publication with a go ahead. No need to write the entire article until
your idea is a go.
Theme lists are a great way to break through writer’s block, seek
out new markets, and increase your chance of a sale. You still can make
the article your own by choosing a subtopic within the theme and using
your own personal slant. You might even get a great idea to use in other
magazines along the way.
© Copyright 2006, Shannon Caster
Shannon Caster resides in Portland, Oregon where she can be found
reading at the park, watching her kids at sporting events, walking
her dogs, or writing on her laptop. Shannon frequently writes for
children, parents, educators, writers, and any other audience willing
to listen. Shannon welcomes visitors to her website at www.shannoncaster.com.
Other articles by Shannon Caster :
Check out the latest articles in
How to Promote Your Book BLOG
Find out what works.
Join the Writing for DOLLARS! group on Facebook.
Writing for DOLLARS!
is a publication of