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Highlights - Non fiction style

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I submitted a non-fiction history story to Highlights and when it was turned down they recommended I read back issue to see their style. I have, of course, read many back issues. I went back and re-read them, but I don't see where I'm missing the mark on non-fiction style.

I now have another non-fiction history/holiday piece I'd like to submit, but I'm still left wondering if I'm missing something about the style they desire.

Does anyone have any insight for me?

#1 - April 17, 2008, 06:03 PM

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Highlights doesn't care for even remotely *encyclopedic* pieces.  All their NF sparkles with interesting tidbits and quotes from experts.  That said, a friend of mine had a gorgeous little piece that I was sure would fit Highlights but it was rejected.  I guess it just didn't suit the editors.  Personal taste and all.  I've had several pieces rejected that I thought were perfect for Highlights.  But they ended up being perfect for other magazines instead :)

Keep trying. And good luck.
Vijaya (who's had some luck with H inspite of all the rejections)
#2 - April 17, 2008, 07:56 PM
Max & Dagny, Why in the World, Tongue-Tied, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags


Naturally, the best way is to hear what they want directly from them:

Barring that (since I know it's not always possible), I'd recommend exactly what Vijaya did in her post. Keep trying, making sure your focus is tight and as personal as possible. They like that "human angle" that immediately allows kids to identify. They're big on primary sources as opposed to secondary, so the more of those you have the better. The bibliography is super important if it's a history piece, because Carolyn Yoder is a stickler for strong research. For holiday pieces, the more culturally oriented the better--they love pieces that introduce kids to different cultures while pointing out similarities between all people, everywhere.

I don't know if that helps.
Highlights is undoubtedly a hard market to break into, but their high standards are what make their product quality, and I applaud you for being wise enough to want that credit on your resume!
Good luck! :goodluck
#3 - April 17, 2008, 08:11 PM

The bibliography is super important if it's a history piece, because Carolyn Yoder is a stickler for strong research.

True, very true.

I've sold a couple of NF history pieces to them. They also prefer "slice-of-life", anecdotal pieces rather than sweeping overall views. If it's science-related, be sure it illustrates how kids can use the scientific method to discover their world rather than just "telling" them something interesting.

Good luck. I agree--keep trying!
#4 - April 18, 2008, 08:07 AM
Viking, 2013

From what I've gathered, reading all of the issues for about three years of HIGHLIGHTS

They like their historical with a strong focus, preferably telling the history through the people. And it's got to have quotes, lots of quotes. And still be 800 words or less. I recently sold them a piece on the Peary Expedition to the North Pole. I focused on the people and what the expedition faced physically with lots of quotes from Matthew Henson since he wrote about the sensory details of the experience and I knew Highlights generally liked that kind of thing-- putting the reader right into the moment.

So -- tight focus with human slant, tell the event through the people, lots of quotes.

Okay...I am not going to indulge in another unrelated emoticon because I think it's so funny :ban

#5 - April 23, 2008, 07:07 AM


Thanks so much for the replies and advice. I think I have a better sense of what they want now! I'll keep plugging away!  :eh2 :paper :oncomputer
#6 - April 23, 2008, 10:50 AM


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