I meet a lot of writers who want to write for children. They come to writers’ conferences with high hopes of making a connection with an editor from a publishing house who is looking for children’s material. Many of the writers I meet have written good stories. Some are short stories written in rhyme, others are slightly longer stories written in prose. But even though they may be good stories, well written stories, and stories with a strong, age-appropriate message, most of these stories will not be published as books. The hardcover premium picture book is getting harder and harder to publish, and very few houses are actively seeking them. The cost of publishing premium pictures books is high, which makes the selling point high, which makes parents think twice before buying. So what are these writers supposed to do with the gems they have written? Read on.
Years ago when I attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference as a part-time staff person and part-time conferee, I learned about writing for children’s magazines. No—it’s not quite the same as having your name on the front of a hard cover picture book with beautiful four-color illustrations, but it is a great home for those short, fun pieces that will probably not make it onto the bookshelf.
I revised a few short stories in rhyme that I had in my "hope-to-get-published file" and sent them to one of the editors at Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. Bingo! It was the perfect fit. Not only did they use my stories, they added great illustrations and some fun activities to the two-page spread.
The children’s magazines that accept submission have writers’ guidelines on their website. Stories can be anywhere from 200-700 words for younger audiences, and up to 1600 words for older kids. Both Clubhouse Jr. and Clubhouse magazines accept submission from writers and offer specific guidelines on their websites. Besides stories and poems, they need rebus stories, recipes, and fun activities.
I began writing for Clubhouse Jr. magazine several years ago and have now become a regular contributor.
Writing for kids’ magazines is fun, creative, challenging, and exciting. And here’s something else to consider—a children’s picture book may sell a few thousand copies or less. But kids’ magazines have a circulation of 40,000 or more. So the bottom line is this—do you want kids to read your stories? There is a big difference between a few thousand readers and 40,000 readers!
If writing for a children’s magazine is something you may be interested in, the best place to start is by looking at several issues of the magazine. Study the themes and style. Become a student of what they publish, then give it a try. I was surprised at how much I enjoy writing for the kids’ magazine market. You might be surprised too!