This is the second in my series about breaking into magazines with children’s nonfiction. Last time, I discussed picking a subject in which you are an “expert” to boost your chances of getting published. Today, I want to encourage you to choose a magazine that asks you to write and submit the whole article.
This may sound silly. Of course you have to write the whole article! But some magazines require only query. A query is typically a sample first paragraph, a brief outline, and a bibliography. Most magazines require new writers to send a resumé and writing samples as well. If the editor likes the query and has confidence in the writer, the editor will assign the article.
Queries are great. They take less time up front. If the editor doesn’t go for your idea, you haven’t wasted hours agonizing over each and every word. But here’s the challenge: where are you going to get those writing samples to attach to your query?
You may be tempted to send a picture book manuscript or a chapter from your latest middle grade. I’ve done that. But the voice and approach might not be appropriate for the magazine.
Sure, you could write up a mock magazine article to send as part of a query. But if you’re going to do that, you might as well send the piece to a magazine and get your first acceptance.
So pick a magazine that asks you to write the whole article. Once you’ve had that first acceptance, you can add that magazine article to your stack of writing samples you submit as part of a query. And now you’ll have confidence in the strength of your writing samples. An editor loved them enough to publish them!
In my next post, I’ll discuss some of the advantages of themed publications, and why I think they might be easier to break into.