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Pockets - Publication Journey, Questions, Answers

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Avvy

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I promised another blue boarder I would share my experience on being published with Pockets so others could find out a little more about the process. So if you’ve been published with Pockets, too, feel free to jump in and share. I’m not an expert by any means, but promised to share my journey.

First, I read the guidelines, themes, and all the stories on the website to get a feel for what Pockets was looking for. I took a few notes on “commonalities” as I read the sample stories. Of course these weren't "must haves" but items I saw here and there. Now that we have Donna’s wonderful tidbits of wisdom, we will all be armed with more writing power! Those are gems. Thanks Donna!

Then I drafted my story. When I began revising I looked back to make sure my story had those “commonalities” I wrote down. Those points were:
1.   Current character names (Donna, I was wrong, they used all the names as I had in my submission.)
2.   MC’s “conflict” obvious in the first part of the story (whether they are upset about something, not happy, wanting to do something but fearful, can’t figure out how best to give back to the community, etc…). This “conflict” will be the basis for what the story is about.
3.   I chose to use first person narration, but some stories are third person—about an even split.
4.   Action where the character sees, thinks, struggles with their dilemma. No quick solution, but he/she needs to be torn—Do I do it or not? What if I did this? How would the other person feel? Of course questions will differ based on topic, but something along those lines where the MC is really debating between options.
5.   Realistic dialogue that isn’t too trendy—no “He’s a hottie” or “I’m down with it”—but still very kid centered. Kids don’t preach to each other, so maybe some banter back and forth, but let the MC develop the “ah-ha” moment.
6.   Also within dialogue, I found examples where some characters were very blunt at times, like one might say, “I’m not sharing,” or “I don’t want to sit next to her.” I made up those examples, but not everything has to be sugar coated, because sometimes kids say those things.
7.   Some kind of prayer/reference to the bible/church group, while it can be brief. My story had a short paragraph where the MC acknowledges her prayers for a healthy family have been answered, but she wondered what another person prayed about—Mom to not have cancer, Dad to not work two jobs, Clothes to fit properly.
8.   An ending where the MC has grown, but realistically. Don’t go over the top for uber happy, but more “Ah, that was sweet.” 
9.   Parents are okay in small doses, but make sure they aren’t the focus or solving the problem for the MC.

After I sent off my submission I received a “story being held for consideration card” about 6 weeks later. The card stated a final decision would be made about three-four months after the theme closed. (For a theme closing in Nov. the final decision might be made in February).

Then I waited.

When the month came for the final decision, I didn’t hear until the very last week of the months (4 days from the end to be exact). Then I got a full-page letter in the mail telling me my story was accepted, the amount they would pay, and a contact. There were no revision requests and that was it.

I filled out the contract and got my check in the mail in less than 30 days.

I don’t mind sharing details, so my 1100 word story paid $165. They asked for 1 year, unlimited exclusive rights in all forms and mediums (so print, website, archival, that sort of thing).

When my story came out, I received 5 contributor’s copies in the mail a month before the issue date. (So October for a November issue.)

As for editorial changes Pockets made, they were very minor, but here’s a list so you can double check.
* They changed my reference of a purple Disney sweatshirt to “purple sweatshirt.”
* They added a paragraph about my MC having to pay for half the sweatshirt while back to school shopping. I didn’t have this paragraph, but it gave more “angst” to her wanting to find her missing sweatshirt, besides it just being her favorite.
* Took out a word here and there, such as “I called out,” to just “I called.” Yep, I should have caught that one anyway.

That was just my journey, so take it for what it’s worth. My story will appear in this November’s issue, called “From a Friend” on page 45-48. I didn’t do the illustrations, but they are too cute. I have to shout out for Ev, too, as her puzzle is in this November’s issue on page 16.

If you have a question, advice, or want to discuss something, please post it. This isn’t my thread, so everyone feel free to share what you have learned so others might make that sale!

Sorry this post was so long. Good luck everyone.


 
#1 - October 06, 2007, 12:05 AM
« Last Edit: October 06, 2007, 08:27 AM by Avvy »

Thank you! Taking time to go into so much detail means alot to me and I know to others. I've never subbed to Pockets but have thougt about it. This will definitly help.
#2 - October 06, 2007, 12:21 AM
The GILDED series (Skyscape/ACP)
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Some of their stories make no mention of prayers,  church,  etc.   I wonder how important it is to include that. 
#3 - October 06, 2007, 12:54 AM

Avvy

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Some of their stories make no mention of prayers,  church,  etc.   I wonder how important it is to include that. 

Yarnspinner,
You're right, not all of their stories have a prayer/church reference and I don't think it's vital to have one to sell a story to them. I just noted it as something I saw in a few stories, and it worked to include a mention of it in mine (not so much a "prayer" but mine was more of a reference to wondering about what others prayed about). I just did a quick glance through the November issue and noticed about 50% of the stories/profiles have a mention of prayer/church/God somewhere in them. Plus some activities/crafts mention God in some way as well as their Pocketful of Scriptures. I'd have to read more carefully to see if I missed anything. Some references were as brief as "the church" and others were more in depth.

If it feels forced or doesn't fit, I wouldn't include it at all in your story. Another one of my other stories was held for consideration and it didn't have any mention of prayer/church. Above all, good characters, strong plot, and excellent writing are key. The other stuff is all a matter of opinion, IMHO.  :)
#4 - October 06, 2007, 01:34 AM

MaudeStephany

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Thanks for sharing your experience, Avvy... I have been thinking of trying to send things to Pockets in the past but was uncertain because of the religious issues. I was afraid that some of my stories might not be quite right for them - and was concerned, as well, that they leaned heavily (maybe it was the stories I read) on specific scripture being quoted or references to church etc. I'm not a big churchy person, but find the teachings to be sound (sometimes more than others), which is why we teach our children about Christ (as well as other spiritual leaders).

Maude  :jump
#5 - October 06, 2007, 03:14 PM

Donna

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Thanks for all this info, AVVY!  This is JUST the kind of thing I needed to read. It will help me tremendously. Thank you for being so generous!!

hugs,
Donna
#6 - October 06, 2007, 03:44 PM

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I'll share my experience, too.  I wrote a story for the upcoming May issue, Family Traditions theme.  I actually wrote the story before I knew about the theme--it was a story about a girl's family tradition of going to the cemetery for Memorial Day.  Then, lo and behold, I saw the Pockets theme list and I thought it would be a perfect fit!  That's why I think they accepted it (although it was a good story, too.  ^-^)

It did not have any spiritual references whatsoever in it, because I didn't have Pockets in mind when I was writing it.  However, it was solid on valuing family and tradition.

I too received the card, and had to wait about 6 months before they made their decision and notified me with a letter.  No revisions for me, either.

Hope this helps...

Sara
#7 - October 06, 2007, 09:21 PM
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Sara,
Congrats on your acceptance  :yay and thanks for adding your experience. I know a few people have wondered about the revision piece, as well as the spiritual part. This is awesome to be building a resource for people who want to write for Pockets.

#8 - October 06, 2007, 09:53 PM

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Yes,  thanks for all the info.   I've had two secular stories rejected by them,  but I didn't think the lack of religion was the reason.   Maybe I'll write something they like one of these days.    :)

Christine
#9 - October 06, 2007, 10:34 PM

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Thanks SO much, Avvy!  I've been trying to break into the "Pockets" market for a couple years.... The summary of your experience is appreciated more than you can know.  With gratitude, Carrots
#10 - October 07, 2007, 10:25 AM

Hello Everyone,

I can tell a bit about my experience of being published in Pockets but in a bit less detail, as Avvy's already said a lot of good stuff.  I've subbed six stories to them, four of which they've held for consideration.  Only one was finally published.  I've also reworked two and resubmitted them for different themes; they held one of those but ultimately rejected it again.  (I did eventually get it published in Cadet Quest.)  I've also subbed six or seven poems, one of which they held and ultimately bought. 

They made a few editorial changes to my story, although I didn't completely "get" those changes.  (If I recall correctly, they seemed to be trying to simplify my language a bit.) The only change that bothered me was a sentence which they awkwardly reworded so that it contained "maybe" twice.

I didn't mind those changes so much, but I was unhappy with how they reworked my poem.  They took out the work "I" in several consecutive lines, so that the meter was messed up.  (I had written: "For flowers in spring, I thank you bees...." and other similar lines, and their removal of "I" destroyed the iambic meter!)  I guess I just didn't see why they needed to change anything. 

Apparently, they don't ever consult authors about changes, which I think is too bad. 

Oh well.  They paid me, and that was nice!  (1400 word story = $200 and 16 line poem = $37.

I hope that helps someone. 

Ellie
#11 - October 07, 2007, 11:34 AM

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New!
Avvy, I've been out of town for the last three days so am just now seeing your thread.  You've been wonderful to share all this information with everybody!  I'm sure it'll be really helpful.

I loved your story!! Congratulations on it!  :yay  And your efforts to study the kind of writing the magazine used were reflected in your story because it seemed a perfect fit for POCKETS.

My 3 acceptances from POCKETS have all been puzzles.  I've subbed 1 poem and 6 other puzzles which have all been rejected.  I've finally found a type of puzzle they like, which helps, but sometimes even though they like this type and hold my puzzle to the final decision month it still gets rejected.  I think since puzzles are fillers sometimes it depends on available space and what other fillers they're using.

The rights they asked were the same for my puzzles.  I only got 3 contributor copies.  If you want to know how much I was paid, you can PM me.
#12 - October 07, 2007, 08:19 PM
« Last Edit: October 08, 2007, 07:35 PM by Ev »

Avvy

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Ev, Your puzzle was super creative and unique too.  :balloongroup: I don't know how you continue to put unique twists on your work and think outside the box! I admit, I sat down and completed your puzzle the day I got my copies of POCKETS. My nieces will be bummed it's already completed.  :eh: I always let my kids and nieces do the puzzles in the magazines I get, so this month they have to share with me.

Good luck to everyone on future submissions.
#13 - October 07, 2007, 08:40 PM

cdb

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         This thread has inspired me to try again. I just wrote a story to sub for the November deadline. I had almost given up on my efforts with Pockets in spite of the invitations to keep sending them stories. Thanks for the inspiration to persevere and for sharing all the information.


              Carole


             
#14 - October 08, 2007, 06:56 AM

I wanted to add one thing that I read somewhere (probably here) about their acceptance rate.  Of the stories that get put on hold with them, only 20-25% eventually get published.  (I can't remember what percentage of all stories get held in the first place, but it wasn't very high at all.)  It helped me when I read that stat, as I kept wondering why they kept holding and then rejecting my stories; I felt I was so close but still so far.  Once I read that, I felt like I just had to keep subbing until the law of averages meant that one of the ones that was held would eventually get through.

So keep trying, Carole and others.  If you feel you're getting close, you probably are!
#15 - October 08, 2007, 12:44 PM

cdb

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         My story is making the rounds with my crit group right now. Hope reigns supreme. There's hope. Always hope.


             Carole
#16 - October 08, 2007, 12:50 PM

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