I’m a big fan of theme-based children’s magazines like ASK, BOYS’ QUEST, DIG, and APPLESEEDS. These publications devote an entire magazine to one subject, like sushi, Germany, wheels, or Mars.
As a reader, I find it fascinating to learn about so many facets of one subject. As a writer, I appreciate the challenge of coming up with a interesting theme-based article.
I like to focus my work on theme-based magazines for a couple of reasons. First, I think most writers want to write what they want to write. They don’t want to be constrained by a theme. I would guess — and this is totally a guess — there is generally less competition when it comes to getting stories into theme-based publications.
Second, if a theme-based magazine rejects an article, it’s easier to pitch the same article to a general interest magazine like SPIDER or HIGHLIGHTS. I find it harder to do the opposite. For example, if you write an article about women sportscasters in the NFL, and a general interest magazine rejects it, it may be harder to shoehorn it into a theme at another publication.
Finding story ideas for theme-based issues can be tough. I would encourage you to go back to your expertise, which we discussed in the first part of this series. Think about how your areas of expertise might relate to the theme. If you volunteer at an animal rescue and the theme is wheels, how might pets use wheels? Oh, right, you’ve seen stories about disabled dogs in special wheelchairs. There’s a story that might captivate kids and be relevant to the theme. If you’ve lived in Germany where speed rules the Autobahn, how might you parlay that into a wheels story?
I can wholeheartedly recommend BOYS’ QUEST and its sister publications FUN FOR KIDZ and HOPSCOTCH as great markets for new writers. You write the entire article, allowing you to build your file of writing samples, and you write to theme.
What kind of experience have you had with theme-based publications?