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How much time do you spend on a magazine query (NF)?

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Hi magazine writers,

I am curious how much time everyone spends on magazine queries, specifically for NF articles, especially when submitting for a specific theme?

I have written articles for magazines for adults (mainly professional journals) and some fiction stories for kids magazines. I am hoping to add NF children's magazines to my list of credits. I've recently submitted several articles. I do feel like I've spent quite a bit of time on these queries, especially since several of them have been topic-specific and therefore may be hard to find alternate homes for if the publication is not interested.

Does anyone have advice about this? Maybe as I gain credits in this genre, I can do simpler queries? How much time do you spend on a NF kids magazine query?

The professional journals I've written for work very differently -- the editors have mostly reached out to me for the article, and there are not really subs on spec. When I've written fiction for magazines, I feel like if one mag does not take the story I can always submit it elsewhere. I am sort of stumped on the topic of NF for kids mags.

Thanks for your advice!
#1 - June 02, 2015, 01:02 PM

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I don't write NF but in general I think of queries like manuscripts. The time it takes to write them is not the issue. The issue is whether it is ready to send out or not. You could post part or all of your query in the critique section if you are still unsure if it is ready to send. It might be wise to treat it like a mss. and put it away for a day or two and then look at it again and see what you think.

Good luck!
#2 - June 03, 2015, 12:05 PM
ROYALLY ENTITLED (inspirational/historical YA) and OOPS-A-DAISY (humorous MG) out now.

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I track all my time in at a Web site called SlimTimer (free!) and find a query generally takes me 3-4 hours. Note that I've been doing this for a few years now. My first few queries likely took much longer.

I really try to be efficient with my time these days because, as you noted, sometimes there may not be much of a market elsewhere for the story.

Hope that helps!

#3 - June 03, 2015, 05:26 PM
Kirsten W. Larson
WOOD, WIRE, WINGS, illus. Tracy Subisak (Calkins Creek, 2020)
THE FIRE OF STARS, illus. Katherine Roy (Chronicle, 2021)

Kristen - I will check out that site! I think I spend more than that amount of time, but like you said I may get more efficient.

Thank you both for the thoughts!
#4 - June 04, 2015, 06:37 PM

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Christine, you've nailed the problem. It's so detailed and specific, the query itself takes a long time. When I first started, it took me a couple of weeks -- I'm guesstimating about 6-10 hrs or so, but I got more efficient as I did more of these. The good news is that almost every one of my queries was accepted.

Sometimes these half-baked articles find just the right home when a new market opens up. You just never know who's looking for those obscure things that you're interested in as well.

Good luck, Vijaya
#5 - June 04, 2015, 07:39 PM
TONGUE-TIED (Heinemann, 2019) BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018) TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015) & 100+ bks/mags


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