While your book is percolating in your mind, in revisions or sketches, or under the scrutiny of your crit group buddies, you can explore ways to build your publishing credentials. Magazines and other media can be valuable, shorter-term ways to get your work seen.
Here’s a more-or-less “out there” example that’s pretty cool. Michelle Clay, a new member of one of my critique groups, won second place recently for her work of 3 minute future fiction in a contest run by Wisconsin Public Radio. As part of the stations’ “To the Best of our Knowledge” programming, they ran the sci-fi challenge “Imagining Possible Worlds,” looking for submissions set in the near future, using plausible science, and 500-600 words long. They received over 750 submissions. Not only was Michelle’s story Food Production posted as a winner on the station’s website, they also had it produced as a short radio play. Go here to read her story – number three on the list – and see what intriguing literary company she’s sharing space with (including Junot Diaz!). Then you can click “listen” to hear her flash fiction in 3D audio. Be advised that this story is not for the squeamish, but it’s tightly written, believable, and puts a subversive twist on a current trend. Since Michelle’s writing focus is sci-fi YA novels, the range of exposure for her work – all those public radio listeners and web surfers – is terrific. Looks great on her resumé, too.
Contests are one way to gain exposure. Magazines are another. Children’s magazines offer a wide gamut of options to submit work for writers, photographers, and artists. Look for magazines targeting the age group and subject areas you prefer by digging into the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books), which comes out every year. The section on magazines lists submission preferences and payment for more children’s magazines than you might think exist. Go to your local library to study actual issues of the ones you are interested in. Read submission guidelines on each magazine’s website, too. Highlights and the many magazines within the Cricket Group (now Cricket Media) are good ones to look into. You may submit story ideas or be assigned illustration/photography projects after showing samples.
You might think that YA writers won’t find options in the magazine market, which usually publishes short works, but you’d be surprised. Cicada Magazine for teens, which is in the Cricket Group, is running an excerpt from my historical YA novel, I Am Gudrid, as a novella. Look for it in the May/June and July/August issues. Years ago, I pitched an excerpt to Cricket (or Spider?) from the book Giants of Smaller Worlds, which I had written and illustrated for younger kids. After looking at several copies of the magazine, I cut and pasted a layout I thought would work for them and sent that in along with a standard manuscript version. They liked it. It gave me a bit more exposure and money for little effort, since the work already existed. One thing to know is that due to the current economics of life, you may have to wait quite a while to be paid. You can find your preferred age group, area of interest, and submission guidelines on their list of many magazines here: http://www.cricketmag.com/submissions
Some children’s magazine groups also publish their own books – offering additional opportunities for writers and artists. Their books may include reprints or anthologies of features already published in the magazine (which can earn you a small return too), but some also publish original works. In addition to receiving assignments to write and illustrate for Cricket Media’s (formerly Carus Corporation) many magazines, I have also illustrated three large-format paperback books published by Cobblestone Publishing, also owned by Cricket media. These came along as a result of the magazine work.
The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market contains a section on contests, grants, and awards. Contests and other competitions also exist on the web. Check out Kristine Asselin’s post The Truth About Twitter Contests in which she reveals that her entry in a Twitter pitch contest lead to her book contract for Any Way You Slice It, coming Fall 2014. It doesn’t get better than that!
Have you published short works as a writer or illustrator? Share your experiences in the Comments section.
Related post on Writers’ Rumpus:
Let the Marketing Begin by Carol Ekster
Thanks Patrice. I’m pleased it was so useful!
Great post, Joyce. A few years ago I sent out a submission, The Library Is the Perfect Place, to Upstart Books. It was submitted as a picture book. Their company focuses on reading and library related books. They contacted me and said that because of economic times they’d like to publish it in their magazine LibrarySparks, instead of as a picture book. This magazine is specifically for librarians. So I sold it to them in hopes that librarians would share it with their students. I had submitted it to other companies and didn’t get a bite, so decided try this magazine market. Magazines are a great place to get our work published. If there are any elementary school librarians out there, or interested writers who want to see what this magazine publishes you can find my story in the archives here:
The Library Is The Perfect Place is in the February 2010 LibrarySparks Magazine, in their web resources. Go to “previous web resources” to access this story which is great for librarians to read, especially at the beginning of the school year, to set up behavior expectations and tell all that a library has to offer.
Thank you so much for the tips. Every time I consider doing a contest I psych myself out, but this has definitely eased my mind about the whole process.
Be brave! And best of luck.
Your post couldn’t be more timely Joyce! I’ve been thinking of writing shorter MG and YA pieces but wasn’t sure of the forum for them. This is great! You just saved me lots of research! Many thanks.
Hi Liz, Excerpts are good too, since you are essentially selling the work to two markets. Your good work will look great in print!
Great tips thank you, I will check out some of these magazines.
Cool. Thanks and best of luck. Um-um, fairy cakes!