Beginning children's writers are often told that the best way to break into print is to write for magazines. Even for established writers, the magazine market can offer many interesting opportunities. I first broke into print in 1982 with Cobblestone Magazine, an American history magazine for readers 9 and up. I went on to write a few more articles for them. One article was included in a desktop calendar published by the company. Several others were reprinted in individual state tests. Very cool.
Cobblestone Publishing has come along way since then. The group now publishes several magazines. At the 2008 Writers Day, sponsored by New Hampshire Writers Project, the editors from the Cobblestone Publishing group presented a workshop called The Inside Story on Cobblestone. This is a description of the workshop:
Meg Chorlian, Elizabeth Carpentiere, Beth Lindstrom, Peg Lopata, Marcia Lusted, and Lou Waryncia
If your goal is publication, then it’s time to think seriously about writing nonfiction for children’s magazines. Even if you have never written for young readers, you should know that opportunities abound to write fresh, kid-appealing articles about a range of topics, from science to history to world cultures, and more. The editorial staff from Cobblestone Publishing will introduce you to the company’s magazines, share the inside story on writing magazine nonfiction, and answer your questions.
Today and tomorrow, I'll post some of the quotes I harvested from their talk, which will also be featured in the New Hampshire Writers Project New Hampshire Writer:
Editorial Director of Cobblestone Publishing, Lou Waryncia had these general comments:
“Each of our magazines is published nine times a year, which means fifty-four issues a year. With 10 – 15 feature stories for each magazine, along with sidebars and activities, it's fertile ground for writers. It's also a good way for beginning or unpublished writers to break into print.”
Cobblestone. Editor: Meg Chorlian
On what she's looking for in a good query:
“What would make a child want to read your article? I'm looking for articles that
make famous people seem more human and real to our readers, for example, articles that show how they were real people before they were famous. And I want our readers to understand why an event is important, not just the facts of what happened."
“I like to see a hook that makes the query stand out from the others”
She then went on to cite an example for an issue she was putting together on the World Columbia Exposition. The author started his query by mentioning the amount of horse poop that was generated by horse drawn vehicles. The query showed the author (new to the editor) understands kids, and can write well.
“We ask for a complete bibliography with the query. If I see a couple of encyclopedia entries or websites, I usually don't use that writer. I go with someone who has cited more primary sources or experts in the field.”